Empty Streets of Chicago, The Cold Last Two Days Of 2020

The empty streets of Chicago during the very cold last two days of 2020 were stark contrasts between eerie and beautiful.

Reflection of a silhouette of man in downtown Chicago
Reflection of a silhouette of a man in downtown Chicago

They perfectly reflected how living out 2020 felt. Because of that, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to finish this year walking around the streets of Chicago doing what I love, making photos. It made for a nice ending to a rough year.

I had never been so glad to see a year come to a close. Usually, the end of the year and the cold winter weather remind me that I’m aging and that life will eventually end. But this year, 2020, at the end of the year I felt a bit hopeful. I looked forward to moving beyond the current political climate and the pandemic. I sincerely hope that 2021 proves to be a healing year for us as individuals and for our country,

Snowing in the empty streets of Chicago at Night, 2020
Snowing in downtown Chicago at Night, 2020

Andrea and I spent the last two days of 2020 in Chicago. It was nice being away from home as we transitioned into the new year. It snowed a lot the day we arrived which covered the city with a beautiful layer of white for those last two days of 2020. Maybe that also contributed to my positive feelings about the future. Even though the city was mostly completely shut down due to COVID-19, we still had a good time visiting a couple of friends there.

Chicago’s Empty Streets

My friend Todd and I met up and spent those two days walking all over the empty streets of Chicago. We both bundled up and enjoyed the empty sidewalks and remaining Christmas decorations. During our walks, I made as many photos as I could of the cold mostly empty city. I captured normally crowded spaces that were sparsely populated with people or no one at all. Interestingly, in all that emptiness there were plenty of large snow piles scattered around the city.

We walked in and out of empty buildings and rode on vacant L trains. The city had an almost post-apocalyptic feeling. Usually, I would find that unnerving but this time I found it inspiring, it was an opportunity to capture Chicago during a unique time in history.

Snowy empty streets of Chicago
A snowy street in Chicago
Downtown Chicago in Black and White
An L Train bridge above the empty streets of Chicago
Under the L Train bridge in downtown Chicago
The empty streets of Chicago
Empty street in Chicago
A mother pushing her baby in downtown Chicago
A mother pushing her baby in downtown Chicago
Graffiti and snow in Chicago
Graffiti and snow in Chicago
Buildings in Chicago
Snow on the sidewalk in downtown Chicago
Snow on the sidewalk in downtown Chicago
Old newspaper stand in downtown Chicago
Old newspaper stand in downtown Chicago
An old car turning in an empty streets of Chicago
An old car turning at an intersection in downtown Chicago
Boarded up McDonald's in downtown Chicago
Boarded up McDonald’s in downtown Chicago
Two people texting with masks on in downtown Chicago
Two people texting with masks on in downtown Chicago
A bicyclist at the train station in Chicago
A bicyclist at the train station in Chicago
Two women walking on a snowy sidewalk in Chicago
Two women walking on a snowy sidewalk in Chicago
Todd Sinelli in downtown Chicago
Todd Sinelli in downtown Chicago
The empty streets of Chicago at the Chicago Theater
Chicago Theater At Night
Woman walking in downtown Chicago at Night
Woman walking in downtown Chicago at Night
Downtown Chicago at Night, 2020

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13 Comments

  1. Dang man that’s a lot of good photos. The super low shot of the snow with blurry BG and the ones directly above and below it are my favorites. Also I love Todd’s post-apocalyptic padded and shielded jacket

    1. Thanks a lot Michael! The city was very photogenic those couple of days. That’s cool you like those photos, I love playing with different and unexpected perspectives of the environments I’m in.

  2. Great perspectives, Matthew. These images work so well in b & w. Perfect for the evening shots and to evoke a mood. You brought back wonderful memories of Christmas in Chicago. It was our tradition to go there when we lived in Michigan. The streets seem so quiet and lonely! But they are beautiful as always. I love your opening image of the river walk reflection–among many others. Beautiful collection, Matthew! Welcome to the challenge. I’m glad you joined us!

  3. Great monochromes of the “Apocalyptic” city. Important to document these very special times. Thank you for sharing!

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