Exactly a century ago, Charles R. Childs became Chicago’s first documentary photographer.
Starting in 1908 and continuing through 1912, Childs went block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood creating one of the most exhaustive photographic records in Chicago history—compiling more than 5,000 penny postcards that show what Chicago looked like.
Now, for the first time, Childs’ work has been gathered in the book Charles R. Childs’ Chicago, The Near South Side and Douglas, a comprehensive documentation of Childs’ work and a remarkable look at a city frozen in time. This first volume contains dozens of never-before-published photographs of street scenes in what is now called the South Loop and Bronzeville neighborhoods.
The book shows a very different city. Houses in the more affluent neighborhoods were still new; the automobile had not yet taken over the streets and the captains of industry still lived close to downtown. The city possesed an idyllic atmosphere.
The 114-page book, to be released in September, is the first volume of Childs’ work and shows many unique views of ordinary streets not documented by anyone else.
In 1908, the C. R. Childs Company was the leading manufacturer of real-photo postcards in Chicago. Childs captured thousands of neighborhood images, known as real-photo postcards during the postcard craze of 1908-12. Now, one hundred years later, these rare images are highly sought after by collectors. To create this book, three major photo collectors worked together to document and share Childs’ rich body of work. Perry Casalino and Greg Treharne compiled the book with an introduction by LeRoy Blommaert, a leading Chicago historian and preservationist.
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