by noted Chicago architecture expert Lee Bey, Southern Exposure documents the remarkable and largely unsung architecture of the South Side. The book features an array of landmarks—from a Space Age dry cleaner to a nineteenth-century lagoon that meanders down the middle of a working-class neighborhood street—that are largely absent from arts discourse, in no small part because they sit in a predominantly African American and Latino
section of town better known as a place of disinvestment, abandonment, and violence.
Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum.
Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighborhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.
“Southern Exposure is a 35mm love story. Just like relationships, the buildings that Bey photographs reflect our affection and our neglect, and remind us of why we are so devoted to Chicago’s South Side. Through these truly awe-some images, we are inspired to stop, behold, and not take these treasures for granted.” —Mary Pattillo, author of Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City
"I can't decide whether I like Lee Bey's photography best, or the open-faced clarity of his writing, but either way, this is a book Chicago needs—an overdue public embrace of the South Side for those who know it, and an introduction for those who don't. Using the area's overlooked architecture as a way into its history and its people, he reveals treasures for the new Chicago." —Thomas Dyja, author of The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream and Walter White: The Dilemma of Black Identity in America
“Southern Exposure lifts the curtain on that vast architecturally ignored South Side. In his eloquent introduction, Lee Bey speaks bluntly about how prejudice and poverty have joined to virtually keep this section of Chicago out of its history. Most impressive are Bey’s stunning architectural photographs depicting treasures such as the 1941 art moderne Chicago Vocational High School, attributed to John C. Christensen; the Georgian revival former Wabash Avenue YMCA (birthplace of the Harlem Globe Trotters!), designed by Robert C. Berlin in 1911; and John Wellborn Root’s powerful Romanesque St. Gabriel Church, the cathedral of Canaryville. Looking at these precious survivors of South Side history, one is reminded again of how immensely important preservation is to understanding the cultural legacy of a particular community.” —David Garrard Lowe, author of Lost Chicago