Lee Bey on Chicago’s South Side, Historic Preservation, and Race


The Gary Comer Youth Center / John Ronan Architects © Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing

The Gary Comer Youth Center / John Ronan Architects © Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

By and large, architectural photo books hew to a paradigm: big, glossy images of big, glossy buildings, paired with minimal text, shorn of any and all polemics. Context, in this environment, can be a distraction. Fortunately, Lee Bey’s new book, Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side (Northwestern University Press), is a notable exception to this unwritten rule. It’s an intriguing hybrid: a photo book of the South Side, a neighborhood history, a mini-memoir, and a polemic about systemic racism and historic preservation in Chicago.

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