井底之蛙

11/10/2013

City of big shoulders

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:40 am

So I spent some time at the library going through 圖畫日報 Although it is not a paper that lasted long (1909-1910) there is lots of cool stuff here connected to the it’s mission of exposing China to the world.

World

 

One thing that leaped out at me was the picture of Chicago. It’s part of an occasional series on famous places overseas.

chicago

Chicago is a city of skyscrapers, the ideal city ” built of  clouds.” (白雲砌成) including the 21 story 商務總會, (commercial association building, maybe the Chicago Stock exchange?) a 13 story 婦奴節用會 (Women’s holiday meeting place? Could this be Marshall Fields?) and an 11-story 大妓院 (da ji yuan) with 600 rooms. 大妓院 would, I think, mean a brothel. I’m guessing that this is a reference to Palmer House or one of the other big downtown hotels which were, as we all know, the haunts of  “adventuresses” in accounts of the city of sin.

adventureess

Since I heard about Chicago as the first city of skyscrapers while growing up in Chicagoland I found this interesting. The illustration is clearly not taken from pictures of the city, but it is also different from the generic pictures of foreign cities you get at this point. It is sort of a occidentalist picture. Chinoiserie seems to involve pulling apart elements of Chinese design and gluing them back together in ways that would look really odd to a Chinese person (compare your standard “westerner trying to do fake calligraphy” to Book From the Sky) and the same thing seems to be going on in this picture.

 

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