The Perfect City

Photographs Bob Thall

Foreword by Peter Bacon Hales

Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1994

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In The Perfect City, photographer Bob Thall explores the changing downtown landscape of America’s third-largest city – Chicago. In sixty-four duotone photographs, Thall provides a visual record of the changing architectural landscape of downtown Chicago between 1972 and 1991. Throughout, Thall’s photographs stress the concept of change and the importance of architecture in shaping our notion of place. They examine the great public spaces, buildings, and streets that have always served at the heart and soul of city life, culture, and commerce. And they show how the city in which modern urban architecture began becomes a metaphor for urban change throughout America. In the essay accompanying the photographs Peter Bacon Hales examines the notion of the city as museum (especially for visitors from the suburbs and rural areas), highlights the successes and failures of urban renewal in downtown Chicago, and assesses the city’s current character.

The New American Village

Text and photographs by Bob Thall

Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1999

100 pp., 84 black-and-white illustrations, 10½ x 8½”

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Revealing the architecture of our cities and suburbs in large format Black and White photographs, these common places are at once anonymous and completely familiar. Calling to mind the Italian photographer Basilico, but with a decidedly American feel, Thall has compiled a telling body of work that reveals a great deal about the modern landscape.

City Spaces

Photographs of Chicago Alleys

Photographs by Bob Thall

Text by Ross Miller

Center for American Places, Chicago, 2002

96 pp., 66 black-and-white illustrations, 12 x 9″

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“For more than thirty years, Bob Thall has been lugging his tripod and heavy view camera downtown. He has assembled a record of Chicago past and present that teases the memory and tests the eye. . . .” – from the Afterword by Ross Miller

At City’s Edge

Photographs of Chicago’s Lakefront

Text and photographs by Bob Thall

Center for American Places, Chicago, 2005

88 pp., 62 tritone illustrations, 11¼ x 9¾”

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An iron-gray slate on a cold and blustery day, a respite from the summer heat, the engine of the city’s notorious blizzards: Lake Michigan is an integral part of the landscape of Chicago. Bob Thall has been photographing the skyline and streets of Chicago for over thirty years, and here in At City’s Edge he chronicles the 25-mile shoreline where the asphalt meets the inland sea.

Courthouse: A Photographic Document

Conceived and Directed by Phyllis Lambert. Edited by Richard Pare

Joseph E. Seagram. Horizon Press, 1978

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Changing Chicago: A Photodocumentary

Photographs by James Newberry, Angela Kelly, Bob Thall, and many others

Texts by Naomi Rosenblum and Larry Heinemann.

University of Illinois Press, Champaign, 1989

224 pp., 52 color and 138 b&w illustrations,, 9¾ x 12″

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The Changing Chicago Project was inspired by the work of the Farm Security Administration in Illinois, and attempts to go beyond the postcard-like views of familiar sights in this major industrial city. The book is a collection of contrasting visual statements–detached, informative, satirical, celebratory, even inspiring–that honor past traditions, reflect present concerns and offer an exciting new potential for documentary photography in American culture.