In case you didn't know, the photo that headlines this blog is the Cincinnati Union Terminal, unquestionably one of the world's top 10 streamlined Art Deco buildings. Back in the 1930s, the terminal was one of America's major transport hubs and in the 1940s many thousands of soldiers passed through the terminal on their way to or from World War II.
With the decline of passenger rail the station fell into disuse. The rear concourse was demolished and the enormous mosaic murals depicting Cincinnati industries were moved to the airport.
I first saw the terminal late at night. I got into Cincinnati in the evening and with an appointment to photograph Cincinnati Bell Telephone the next morning I was eager to get as much done as possible.
Ignoring warnings to stay out of the area at that time of night I got to the terminal around 11pm. It was so immense that even from far back in the parking lot I needed a 65mm Grandagon on my 4x5 camera (about equivalent to a 24mm lens on 35mm). The area was deserted but the station was lit inside and there were no cars, anywhere. Short of a glorious sunset, things were just about perfect.
What I didn't know was, the lights in the parking lot were on a timer and just as I got ready to shoot, I heard the click of a switch and...absolute blackness. It was so dark, I had to feel my way back to the car and switch on the headlights, just to see the camera, so I could disassemble everything.
The following night, I was back at sundown and made the photo. Having a 4x5 original proved useful as the photo was made into a big print for the American Art Deco show at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian.
|American Art Deco exhibition, Washington D.C., 1988|
Until recently, I didn't think there was a color photo of this installation and I thank my friend Bob Rose for providing the one you see here.