Four years ago, a new Web site called Flickr debuted with an invitation to photographers—
amateurs and professionals alike—to share their photographs online with family, friends, and (if desired) complete strangers. Since then, some 20 million people from around the world have joined up (there’s no charge for most accounts) and uploaded nearly 2 billion photos—and nearly 1.9 million of them have a Chicago connection. Here are the 13 standouts from our picture-perfect city.

PLUS: Check out The One That Got Away (aka honorable mention) in’s newest blog, Snap!


(Flickr alias: peterbaker)
Chicago Federal Center (Adams Street between Clark and Dearborn); fall 2004
Inspiration: The ratio of police to protesters at an antiwar rally was amazing; it seemed like the protesters were outnumbered four to one, so most of the photos that day were of nothing but cops.


(Flickr alias: chicagoeye)
Title: Welcome to Bronzeville
Where/When: The corner of 43rd Street and Michigan Avenue; June 7, 2005
Inspiration: The signage exemplifies the struggle of Bronzeville: a neighborhood that wants to be a hot, marketable upscale area, while it still bears the scars of years of disinvestment.


(Flickr alias: lucy_nka)
Title: City of Angels
Where/When: Michigan Avenue during the Taste of Chicago; July 3, 2007
Inspiration: Carleton the Roving Angel roller-skates up to unsuspecting pedestrians, surprises them, and offers a photo with an angel for a donation. He makes just about everybody he runs into smile. 


(Flickr alias: kimball_homan)
Title: The Death of the Greens
Where/When: Cabrini-Green (the corner of Larrabee and Division streets); December 9, 2006
Inspiration: This photo documents the exact time and manner of death for a piece of old, raggedy, despised Chicago—and the exact moment of birth of the new, shiny, overcelebrated version.


(Flickr alias: chicagoeye)
Title: We Saw the Future. Didn’t Like It
Where/When: Near 49th Street and Lake Park Avenue; April 23, 2005
Inspiration: There was a time when we couldn’t wait for the future—and then the future came and it scared us. This view of 50-year-old towers designed to embrace the future AND set against a row of ten-year-old buildings designed to look like something from 1918 embodies that shift.


(Flickr alias: dreamerofmeaning)
Title: Campbell Nights
Where/When: Campbell Avenue at Catalpa Avenue; March 2, 2006
Inspiration: The complete, serene loneliness one feels while walking the streets at night: no one around—just you and the shadow, streetlights, and the quiet sleep of humanity


(Flickr alias: peterbaker)
Title: Spectrum
Where/When: Museum of Contemporary Art (220 East Chicago Avenue), at the exhibition “Massive Change: The Future of Global Design”; late 2006
Inspiration: A room was turned into an exhibitION of photographs depicting every wavelength of the visible and invisible light spectrum. It was a little overwhelming—and very cool.


(Flickr alias: merrickb)
Title: Chicago Blue Line Train
Where/When: CLARK/LAKE Blue Line stop; May 14, 2007
Inspiration: You can’t go wrong with a good subway shot. This stop in particular is nice and grimy. I was visiting Chicago at the time of this photo, but later moved here and now live within blocks of this subway station—so the image of these dirty walls has become part of my everyday experience.



(Flickr alias: eschlabach)
Title: A Fool and His Bike Are Soon Parted
Where/When: At Adams and Clark streets; April 11, 2007
Inspiration: Walking past this lonely wheel every day made me chuckle. I wondered why the owner didn’t come back to take the wheel. Shame?


(Flickr alias: Shboom)
Title: Well-waxed Floor
Where/When: Museum of Contemporary Art; November 26, 2005
Inspiration: The glow and buzz of the neon, the gloss of the floor, the thrill of shooting a stranger without his knowing (or maybe he did; he sat there for quite a while). I’m a fan of light trails, but I usually create them rather than have them presented to me.


(Flickr alias: ElectrikCandyland)
Title: Untitled
Where/When: Lake Michigan at Fullerton PARKWAY; March 2006
Inspiration: I had spent many nights walking past this area. I always loved the light around there and was really interested in how it would look with a really long exposure. I wasn’t disappointed.


(Flickr alias: Primeau)
Title: July 12, 2001
Where/When: Jacob Riis Elementary School (since demolished), 1018 South Lytle Street; November 2006
Inspiration: My photographs are an attempt at reversing the unproductive trend of neglect and demolition. This photo reflects the frustrations I have about Chicago’s public education system.


(Flickr Alias: Andy Marfia)
Title: Standee’s
Where/When: 1133 West Granville Avenue; December 2003
Inspiration: This photograph combines two things that I love as both a photographer and a Chicago resident: old signs and inclement weather.