Chicago Photography Guide Part 4 - Alt Chicago

Chicago Photography Guide Part 4 - Alt Chicago

James R. Thompson Center Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Federal Government

Written and Photographed by Mike Lindle


Heading out to Chicago but don’t know where to shoot? If you’ve made it this far through the series, you must be pretty curious what other photogenic nooks and crannies Chicago has to offer. Read on, and you won’t be disappointed! This is part 4 of the 4 part series on the best photography locations in Chicago:

Part 1 - The Classics

Part 2 - Waterways & Boats

Part 3 - CDOT Trains & Parking Lots

Part 4 - Alt Chicago

I’ve also included a few tips, the gear I used, and how to get to each location through Google Maps!


Spiral Staircase at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Established in 1967, this Contemporary Art Museum is one of the world’s largest. While it’s highly recommended that you spend time in the museum and actually enjoy the modernist sculptures and installments, photographers flock here to photograph the building’s staircase. Unsurprisingly, it’s well worth the trip out!

Abstract Staircase Modern Art Chicago MCA Museum of Contemporary Art City Illinois
Abstract Staircase Modern Art Chicago MCA Museum of Contemporary Art City Illinois
Abstract Staircase Modern Art Chicago MCA Museum of Contemporary Art City Illinois

West Calhoun Alleyway

A nearly hidden Alley in The Chicago Loop, come check this place out during early blue hour to catch the perfect lighting when staring straight up at the sky cracks.

Alleyway West Calhoun Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois
Alleyway West Calhoun Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois

The Northern Trust Green Pipe Lookup

Another quirky view in The Chicago Loop, the historic Northern Trust Building is veneered with Blue paneling and green pipes running up the side of it. Push your wide angle right against the pipe and stare straight up to enjoy a unique view in the heart of a well-photographed city.

Northern Trust Alleyway Madison Ave Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois

Alleyway Near Double Q-Loop

Next to the Double Q-Loop (immediately south), you’ll find an unassuming alleyway. Head inside and look up to be treated to a slightly symmetrical alley view.

Alleyway West Calhoun Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois

James R. Thompson Center Interior

Constructed and opened in 1985 the James R. Thompson Center houses offices of the Illinois State Government. It has a public foodcourt inside, though the building follows normal business hours, closing M-F at 6pm. Unfortunately, the building is closed on the weekends.

James R. Thompson Center Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Federal Government
James R. Thompson Center Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Federal Government
James R. Thompson Center Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Federal Government
James R. Thompson Center Chicago Loop Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Federal Government

John Hancock Center Alleyway Lookup

Slip in the alley directly east of the John Hancock Center for this astonishing lookup of the tower sandwiched between the surrounding buildings.

John Hancock Center Chicago Magnificent Mile Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Long Exposure Light Trails
John Hancock Center Chicago Magnificent Mile Lookup Urban Street Chicago City Illinois

Calder's Flamingo

Unveiled in 1974, this avante-garde sculpture was designed by Alexander Calder. Commissioned by the United States General Services Administration, it currently sits outside the Kluczynski Federal Building in Federal Plaza.

Calder's Flamingo Chicago The Loop Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Government Federal Plaza
Calder's Flamingo Chicago The Loop Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Government Federal Plaza

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Popularized skyline view of Chicago over a small pond under the abstract gateway. This area also offers a safe haven for local wildlife such as fish, turtles, and birds.

Nature Boardwalk Lincoln Park Zoo Chicago The Magnificent Mile Urban Street Chicago City Illinois
Nature Boardwalk Lincoln Park Zoo Chicago The Magnificent Mile Urban Street Chicago City Illinois

Chase Tower Lookup

Stand at the base of Chase tower at the intersection of your choice to be stunned at the curving architecture at the base of the skyscraper.

Chase Tower The Loop Lookup Chicago Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Perspective Architecture
Chase Tower The Loop Lookup Chicago Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Perspective Architecture

ORD Terminal B - C Pedestrian Transfer

This Pedestrian Tunnel connects United Terminals B and C. Since the HQ of United is in Chicago, I suppose they rolled out the red carpet for travelers passing through their biggest operating airline hub.

  • Pro Tip - Arrive to the airport early to allocate yourself enough time to photograph this colorful location!

  • Cost - Cost of airplane ticket.

  • Camera - Nikon D750

  • Lens - Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art

  • Location

United Pedestrian Bridge O'Hare International Airport Chicago Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Perspective Architecture
United Pedestrian Bridge O'Hare International Airport Chicago Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Perspective Architecture
United Pedestrian Bridge O'Hare International Airport Chicago Urban Street Chicago City Illinois Perspective Architecture

Next Time:

Milwaukee Art Museum (Day Trip from Chicago)

Bahá’i House of Worship (Day Trip from Chicago)


If you enjoyed this, check out Focal Collective’s other content on the Focal Points section of our website. Feel free to look through our Artist Interview Series as well!

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