1949: Chicago by Stanley Kubrick

“Before he started making movies, Stanley Kubrick was a star photojournalist. In the summer of 1949, Look magazine sent him to Chicago to shoot pictures for a story called “Chicago City of Contrasts.”

- Chicago Tribune

47 Responses

  1. BJMe

    I don’t know how these pix rate as photojournalism or how they satisfied LOOK’s assignment, but having my own memories of Chicago and some of the actual locations I can say they they capture nothing of the essence of Chicago as I experienced it.

  2. RKW

    I believe the pics commented to be from the Merchandise mart, were actually at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Although by name, easy to confuse, they are significantly different locations, and of course, different businesses.

  3. Wivita

    Looks amazing, I’m curious about the stories behind the photo’s. Who were these people, and where are they now?

  4. Schmutzli

    I cannot find the first image of State Street at the LOC website. Anyone else? Is it part of the same collection?

  5. mclaren

    Yes, those pictures of guys shouting and making hand gestures are from the pit of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest largest derivative (options) market at the time. Interestingly enough, it’s never been automated, because they’ve never been able to work up a computer system as efficient as the shouts and hand gestures.

  6. Allan

    There are all amazing, but photos 21, 33, 27, 29, 6, 22 are have been mislabled by you. The Merchandise Mart is a shopping center. These pictures are actually of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or Chicago Board of Trade. Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar of Chris

      Hi Allan – Thanks for raising this. I took the labels from the Library of Congress, which uses the term “merchandise mart”, as you can see:null

  7. Allan

    Thanks Chris…looks like I need to talk with the Library of Congress about this (NOTE: I work for CME Group). I’ve shared the post internally and with a number of traders who all love this great find of yours.

  8. Al from Chgo

    Thank you for putting this together. I am the same age as the schoolgirl, my father and uncle worked at Armour & Co and in the stock yards, an uncle and cousin at US Steel at 79th and the Lake, my wife as a teen lying about her age as a uniformed usher at the Chicago Theater. Great place to grow up in in the 40′s and 50′s.

  9. Al from Chgo

    Oh forgot, the blond wrestler operated under the name “Gorgeous George” had a great following along the housewives.

  10. Barneylovesyou

    Photography, just like sports… is all about being at the right place at the right time.
    Something cops are never able to do.

  11. amin

    these are very amazing!if you had seen behind the scenes of “shinning”, you see his photo-sensitive talent.

  12. clancy sigal

    Everyone has his or her own Chicago. It’s great to see Kubrick’s.

    clancy sigal

  13. Harman Design Imaging

    Interesting stuff. I particularly like the chiaroscuro styled shots.
    Obviously a talented individual from the start.

    RIP Stanley Kubrick… Gone but not forgotten!

  14. Will Ando

    These shots show that he had an eye but not the technique. Early days.
    I do think the man’s talent is over-rated somewhat and that his contribution to the sum of human knowledge exaggerated.

  15. somercet

    James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, confessed that one of his sartorial inspirations was the one and only “Gorgeous George” Wagner. Nice to see him here.

  16. philip wizenick

    The photos captioned “Men working at Merchandise Mart” are incorrect. They are trading at the Chicago Board of Trade at LaSalle & Jackson. The Merchandise Mart was then a wholesale exhibitors building at and is at Wells & the river.

  17. Tara Jantzen

    The second to the last shot with the child doing chin ups is actually my parents and my oldest brother. The shot was not taken in Chicago, but was taken at our home in Southern Illinois for Look Magazine. Thanks for sharing these — always wonderful to see that shot reappearing.

  18. Bob

    For any of you jazz fans, the cornetist in #24 (“Club”) is quite clearly Muggsy Spanier.

    Nice images–interesting to see what Kubrick focused on way back then.

  19. Jorge

    Anyone no where I can find this photo on the LOC ,web site I found all the others but not this one.

  20. michael jantzen

    The photo of the man, women, and the baby chinning himself are my mother, father, and older brother. This was not taken in Chicago but in southern Illinois. This photo was part of a 4 page spread for Look magazine in 1947.

  21. lason

    Beautiful. Sad to see African Americans living so poorly then. Love the shots of State Street; loved all of them really. My husband tells me about Gorgeous George. Nice to see his pix as well. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Gilberto Train

    A beautiful, powerful and poetic vision of a urban landscape in the 40′s.

  23. tedstrutz

    What great photos… Damn, that was Gorgeous George the wrestler! I saw him wrestle once when I was a little kid.

  24. Color Me Unimpressed

    Too many of these dishonor Kubrick’s legacy. Someone should have used his/her head and removed the all too many snapshots that any seven year old with a Kodak Brownie would have taken.


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