This aerial shot of the Gold Coast and the Loop faces southwest from over Lake Michigan. Along with the Sears Tower, Hancock Building, and Aon Center, prominent buildings such as the Drake Hotel, Water Tower Place, the IBM building, One and Two Prudential Plaza, First Chicago, and the Montgomery Ward Building are clearly visible. Also visible, but partially obscured are Lake Point Tower, the Tribune Building, the Wrigley Building, and many others. This image is fairly accurate as of the fall of 2007, but as this book goes into publication, itâ€™s already out of date. Trump Tower has gone up along the river, sending a fourth large spire into the sky, and the Sears Tower has been renamed the Willis Tower.
While I didnâ€™t have a direct reference for the camera angle, I cobbled together enough material from various sources to infer what I needed. I roughed out the initial composition in pencil, using Google Earth with its low-resolution 3D models to compose the shot andposition the buildings. Then, using atwo foot ruler, I found the horizon and vanishing points (which extended well off the edge of the page), and outlined all the buildings in perspective. Using photos I had taken from the top of the Hancock Building (the tall, darker tower in the foreground on the right hand side) and from the Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier (which would sit off the left hand edge of the page), I slowly worked my way across the image, identifying each building and laying in the details. Ultimately, the shot took about 40 hours to put together over the course of a week and a half.