Gabriel Fowler discovered the glory of Lake Street shortly after he moved to town five years ago for grad school at the School of the Art Institute. "I was going to this place called the Butcher Shop--kind of a weirdo art gallery and event space. Someone told me to go there for this crazy party in this hyperindustrial weird area which also had the cool history of being the former home of all these butcher shops. And so then when I realized Lake Street went under the el all the way to the suburbs, I thought, wow, what a really strange monument."
Now the 29-year-old artist likes to saddle up his '89 Chrysler Fifth Avenue for the occasional dash down the belly of the steel snake. He hops on west of the Loop and follows the Green Line--the only train in the city that's always elevated--to its terminus in Oak Park. "It's a little dangerous because all the vertical pillars are kind of close to you, and you have this really intense one-point perspective that really reminds me of the scene at the end of Star Wars when Luke Skywalker is defeating the Death Star....The trains are going fast over you. And it's ideal if you're the only car."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joeff Davis.