Historic Artifacts in the City of Steel

Last week I was back in Chicago for the workshop meetings of the Connected Learning Research Network. During two days members of the different research teams discussed some of the emerging themes we have been finding in our studies about youth, learning, and digital media. Besides having a great dialogue and feedback, experiencing the downtown of the city of steel was very inspiring. In this occasion I was particularly surprised by the amount of historic artifacts that I found during my short stay.

For instance, a Mail Chute System designed to transport letters to the different floors of a building was still in place embedded inside of the walls of the hotel where I stayed.

mail chute

In the lobby of the Carbide & Carbon Building, the remaining of an art-deco directory hosted a digital telephone hub.


And inside the Harold Washington Library Center, in the third floor near to the computer commons, a metal shelf plenty of telephone directories stood up at the entrance of the reference room.

directorios telefonicos

Interestingly, all of these three artifacts reveal how telecommunication systems have become embedded in the architecture and the physical space of a city. Walking the streets, exploring its buildings, and contemplating the skyline of Chicago is quite a learning experience. The architecture is impressive in its small and big scales, in the structure of the skyscrapers, and the details of the decoration.

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