Snow Piles in Downtown Chicago, Cold Organic Shapes In A Cold City

The Snow piles scattered around Chicago really intrigued me, their organic shapes contrasted with the rigid structures of the cold city.

This winter was my first time visiting Chicago during the winter. Andrea and I go up there every summer and I love it every time we go. It was really interesting being there during this time of the year. Luckily for me, it snowed a lot the day we arrived which left Chicago covered in snow the day before New Year’s Eve.

The city looked beautiful to me, the soft layer of white over all of the streets and buildings was sublime. I went out and walked all over downtown with my friend Todd. I captured tons of photos of the city. Interestingly though, it was the isolated piles of snow that really caught my attention. I can’t remember ever seeing that before. I’ve never lived in a city where it snowed enough to need snowplows.

About The Snow Piles

Snowplows create the mounds of snow by pushing it out of the road into convenient little mounts. Most snow piles weren’t as neatly condensed as the ones in my photos, most were just small rows of snow on the side of the road.

What really struck me about these mounds was the contrast of their organic shapes with the rigid structures of the city. It was interesting thinking about their current state. How they are awkward masses of snow, compared to what they were a few hours prior, a smooth spotless blanket of white on the ground. I also thought about how this snow was naturally made but their piles were made by people with machines.

It may seem funny how I’m thinking so much about snow piles in Chicago but it’s these odd little things in life that sometimes capture my attention. These random things cause my mind to think deeply about something as fleeting and momentary as a pile of snow.

Snow pile in Downtown Chicago
Snow Pile in Downtown Chicago
Snow pile in Downtown Chicago
Mound in Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago


  1. Thanks for sharing Matt. Chicago is a beautiful city in the winter. Specifically, Michigan Avenue with snow is pretty spectacular. Another photographic winter city I would suggest is Salt Lake City…cheers!

    1. Yes it is, I agree, I’ll posting the rest of my photos in another post. That’s cool about SLC, I’ve never been there. Definitely need to visit now. Cheers to you too!

    1. That’s really interesting Mike, I can see how they do look like that. I think the piles with the stark black and white photos gave it a bit of tragic feel to them.

  2. Matthew, I had to smile at your attention to the snow piles. 20 years ago we left NJ and moved south for many reasons but the final straw was when we had to pay to have a dump truck come in an take away the massive snow piles that had developed after weeks of plowing heavy snow in our driveway! They are only interesting for a short time, then they become a constant reminder of winter’s drudgery. On the other hand, nothing beats the beauty of freshly fallen snow so I suppose you have to take the good with the bad. Enjoyed your scenes of Chicago in your other post and appreciate your joining our challenge. Hope to see more of you in the coming weeks.

Let me know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Matthew T Rader

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading