City of Big Shoulders


Carl Sandburg was one of the greatest of American writers and poets.  He describes the hardscrabble nature of Chicago in his poem of the same name, referencing the “City of the Big Shoulders” and assailing critics who only care to see crime, poverty, and moral decay.  Sandburg responds:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.  Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;  Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,  Bareheaded, Shoveling, Wrecking, Planning,      Building, breaking, rebuilding, Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth, Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs, Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle, Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing! Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be the Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler of the Nation.


27 thoughts on “City of Big Shoulders

  1. Just great!! I like very much the b&w conversion, the composition, the lights, the atmosphere… An awesome shot!!

  2. Beautiful image of Chicago, my home, which I miss very much. Thanks for including the Sandburg text. He really does capture the esence of Chicago. I look forward to seeing more of your Chicago images.

  3. All my life I wanted to live in Chicago, and back in 98 I moved there and lived there for the next 10 years, I can say one thing about this amazing city, they may a myriad of cities in the world, but Chicago will always have a special place in my heart, a city which has seen me grow and become the one I am today. Great shot once again and thanks for posting something so beautiful about what I call my hometown….

    • Chicago is a strong, proud, and diverse city, as you well know. I thought this photo captured a slice of that spirit. Thank you for the wonderful comment, and I’m happy that I could conjure memories of your adopted hometown.

      • It’s always a pleasure to see and read anything about Chicago. What makes even more special, is art itself bringing out what most people, who live in the city, miss.

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