Introducing a New Photo Blog: Virtual Chicago

Welcome to the new Forward Chicago blog, Virtual Chicago. My name is Matt, and I’m a freelance photographer and owner of MBA Photography.

I’m a resident of Chicago (eight years), apartment dweller in the 47th Ward (four years), dog dad, and husband. I’m a Forward Chicago member because I care about my community and recognize the positive benefits of living in a place that is diverse in age.

By trade I work in education. By passion, I do photography. I’ve been all over the City of Big Shoulders with photos taken in all 77 of Chicago’s neighborhoods, from Rogers Park to Riverdale, from East Side to O’Hare. This blog is my contribution to Forward Chicago. With each post, I’ll share a new photo and a short sketch of the neighborhood.

I’d love to get feedback. If you know the neighborhood the photograph is from, what’s been your experience there? Are there any fun personal or historical stories you could share? I love Chicago history, so this is an open invitation to any history buffs!

For Week One, here’s a local shot of Lincoln Square from the roof of the new(wish) Mariano’s.

View from Mariano's rooftop by Matt Altstiel

View from Mariano’s rooftop (1800 W. Lawrence Ave.) / Photo: Matt Altstiel

No disrespect to Jewel, but I was beyond happy when Mariano’s opened its doors on Lawrence. The Jewel is two-minute walk, but save for its fried chicken, it’s nothing to write home about.

At Mariano’s, the ability to choose from 40 different types and cuts of meat for grilling, as well as seasoning and cooking options, is a godsend. If you’re like me, you don’t always have time to cook dinner. Doing your grocery shopping while your dinner is being made for you, at no extra cost, lets me make the most of my time.

Beyond the food, which is better than Jewel’s, I love the rooftop parking. Living in a garden level apartment, we don’t have much of a view. But the view atop Mariano’s is glorious. Depending on where you stand, you’ll see a completely different skyline. Gold Coast and the Loop are clearly visible. But so, too, are Edgewater and Rogers Park. To the west is a canopy of trees interspersed with roof decks. I love Chicago at the ground level, but it really comes alive from above.

This shot was taken with a LG Camera Phone. Believe it or not, there was very little editing required as the natural light of a beautiful sunset did most of the work.

About Matt A.

Matt A. is a Chicago-based freelance photographer living in the 47th Ward. An avid explorer of his city, Matt has been to all 77 community areas and documented the many sides of Chicago. Matt is also highly engaged in his community as is a member of Forward Chicago, One Million Degrees, Chicago Scholars, WITS, and the Chicago Gophers (UMN Alumni Group).

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