Friday, March 10, 2006

Carl Schurz is Alright

I don't know why I never knew this, but it turns out that the cover photo of the Who's album "The Kids Are Alright," and album I have owned since childhood, was taken in my neighborhood. Today was unseasonably warm (though not exactly nice) so I went for a walk and verified it myself.

Here's the album cover:
And here's a picture I took of the same spot:No doubt about it, it's the same spot, though why they (or rather Art Kane, the photographer) picked this place I don't know. It's a nice spot, with a great view of Harlem, and a stone bench that radiates heat on a sunny day.

Apparently, there is a widely held belief that the album cover was taken at Grant's Tomb. It isn't, although, Grant's Tomb is about a ten minute walk away. In fact, this frieze is part of a monument to Carl Schurz, a German immigrant who became famous first as a Union general in the Civil War, and later as a progressive politician.

To me he is most noteworthy for being the namesake of a public high school in Chicago. Designed by Dwight Perkins in 1908, it is a masterpiece of Prairie School architecture, as the following images should demonstrate:

Lesser known is that the same year Perkins designed an extremely similar Chicago high school on the south side - Bowen High School, my father's alma mater. You can see that it is a wonderful building as well, though ill-advised renovations have diminished its charm.

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