Lee Balterman’s Chicago in the 1950s

His Chicago captures the city's beauty in moments

Lee Balterman (1920 – March 16, 2012) was born in Chicago, took night classes in drawing and painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago – the only formal training of his career – and until his death lived and photographed almost daily in Chicago for newspapers, magazines and his own pleasure. He photographed the space race and two moon landings (Apollo 11 and 12), the big fights Sonny Liston vs. Floyd Patterson, the 1959 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox, and sores of photographs for picture magazines like Life and Sports Illustrated.

When asked why he took so many pictures of his home town, he replied: “I was born that way.”



“Downtown Chicago. Muhammad Ali. I don’t know. Just the street. He killed a man. In a parade. New Year’s Eve. Just a man at a restaurant. Maxwell Street. Randolph Street. London House. Just faces.”

– Lee Balterman explains his photographay style to the NYT in 2011


Old woman Chicago

Woman at Fairground, Smoking Chicago Smiling Woman holding face

Baseball chicago


In 2010, Balterman was interviewed by famous Chicago Cubs fan Jerry Pritikin, known as the Bleacher Preacher. During the interview, Balterman and Pritikin discussed Balterman’s Cubs’ stories and historical photo assignments.[3]



Chicago man

Jazz Pianist Billy Taylor



Chicago Chicago at night


via: Stephen Daiter gallery, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago,

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