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Photographs From Atop The City’s Highest Tower Crane by Ken Derry

Copyright Š 2009 by A. K. Derry All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner what so ever without written permission from the copyright holder except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. ISBN: 978-0-9797042-2-2 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009932561 For information visit Book design and production: Marie Gilbert Printed in the United States of America

Photographs From Atop The City’s Highest Tower Crane by Ken Derry

During his 30-year career as a heavy equipment operator, Ken Derry has developed a unique perspective on the city of Chicago. From the famous Deep Tunnel project 300 feet below ground to a perch atop the city’s highest tower crane, Ken has viewed a Chicago that the rest of us will never see. While working on one of the city’s tallest skyscrapers, Ken began to photograph the city as he saw it, from the center of Chicago’s Loop, and over 1,300 feet in the air. He witnessed and photographed spectacular sunrises over Lake Michigan, special events like the Air and Water Show, and the everyday workings of this great city. Ken is passionate about taking photographs and loves to share his work with others. To see more photos, visit

for Marsha, Star and Brad. I pray for you with every sunrise and every sunset.

The crawler crane I’m operating is below the Chicago River level, where we are preparing the core mat for the historic concrete pour for Trump International Hotel and Tower – Chicago.

Erecting the tower crane. The 33,070 pound weight of the operating cab section causes the boom of the hydro-crane to deflect (bend), as it should.

Jim gives Ken a thumbs up!

I am at the controls of the tower crane, approximately 200 feet above the deck. “Chewy” waves while taking a coffee break. Mark Wilson, “Say cheese!”, while “Bates” gets last minute concrete orders from the boss.

I often glanced at the Wrigley Building clock. In fall of 2006 the hands were removed for building repair work.

 Looking at the Chicago River from atop the “Rooster Tail�, the highest point of the crane.

Boats usually wait for the water cannon to stop, but this one drove right through.

Steve is checking the cable on a -3° day. “Hurry up Ken, trolley me back in!”

Looking down over 1,300 feet to the Chicago River.

Navy Pier is always bustling.

My sincere thanks go to‌ James McHugh Construction for all my years of employment. Dale Hendrix and Jim Payne for the opportunity to be part of this amazing project and for our many years of friendship. Jim Horton, for posting my photos on the internet and for all his expertise in helping me share these photos with others. Without Jim, none of this would have happened. Rick Perkins, for all his assistance with many of the details while creating this book. Jose Hernandez. It has been my honor and pleasure to be partnered with you on this job. To everyone on this job who made coming to work every day a memorable and enjoyable experience. Marie Gilbert. What more can I say but thank you. You have been such an important part in the creation of this book. You have a wealth of knowledge and an amazing eye for detail. This started out as a business arrangement then turned into a friendship. Ed Gilbert for having faith in this project and for supporting your wife, Marie, in all her efforts. To my daughter, Star, and my son, Brad. Without you I never would have known how to turn on the computer. You both have taught me so much. Thank you for your patience and the contributions you both have made to this book. To my beautiful wife Marsha. After 28 years of marriage you are still the love of my life. You are the reason I get up in the morning. Thank you for all your faith in me. God. Without God none of this would have been possible. Through Him all things are possible.

“Ken Derry has a view of Chicago that is unparalleled. From his perch atop Chicago’s highest structures he has captured images of the city that transcend ordinary photography. His pictures are dazzling, brawny and breathtaking. Derry captures the range of the city’s character: from hard-working and down-to-earth to reaching for that which is beyond our grasp. In this book Derry invites you to sit next him, high above the rest of us and seemingly, just a few feet below the Creator.” Phil Ponce, Host Chicago Tonight “As you study these captivating bird’s eye views of Chicago’s North Loop, one fact makes the images even more extraordinary: These photos were not taken from a helicopter by a professional photographer. Derry illustrates the argument that a camera is just a tool. It’s the photographer who creates the image. With a modest camera, Derry mixes composition and height to capture intriguing images that compel the viewer to linger, taking in every detail.” Steven Dahlman, Editor “Even in the crane industry, few people get a chance to see a growing city from a tower crane operator’s perspective. Ken Derry has been working with giant cranes for thirty years, and taking photos from his cab throughout his career. They give a unique insight into a life worked above the clouds. Derry’s photos give a new appreciation of the work that goes into building the modern city: days that start as the sun rises and ends as its sets, ironworkers who spend their lives among the lattice work of cranes hundreds of feet above the ground, and crane operators who view it all from their swaying perches. From this height, the city is seen with new eyes. Instead of the canyons that soar above us as we walk along Michigan Avenue, Derry sees the city’s skyscrapers as glass and steel islands in an ocean of cloud; where the city might feel cramped and enclosing on the ground, from the sky Derry sees an open prairie of twinkling lights.” Will North, Deputy Editor Cranes Today “The view from a tower crane is one of astounding depth, and within these pages, Ken Derry shares with the world his truly unique perspective from high atop Chicago. Derry skillfully grasps the aura of the city from the daily bustle in the business district to the serenity of the sun rising over Lake Michigan. The images of construction workers shaping the skyline are a tribute to the men and women who build Chicago every day and night.” James M. Sweeney, President-Business Manager International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO

Chicago A View From The Top  

Photographs From Atop The City's Highest Tower Crane by Ken Derry

Chicago A View From The Top  

Photographs From Atop The City's Highest Tower Crane by Ken Derry