Ewing Annex Hotel
“On Clark Street south of Harrison, a block out of time with the monstrous high-rise and glass-skinned city of information that grows around it. There, a cage hotel, the Erwing, sits above a pawnshop, whose arrow you can see out the lobby window lit up in the night while the prison looms ominously across the street. In the lobby the men eat cans of soup bought from a vending machine; they play cards and watch videos, go to work if they have jobs, and wait for the condemnation orders to come from the urban renewal gods.”
The Erwing “is one of Chicago’s only remaining cage hotels that infamous genre of skid row domicile where for the price of a cheap steak dinner you get "a cabinet and bed, separated from the next cubicle with a partition topped by chicken wire."
“A cubicle room is generally seven by five feet, and seven and a half feet high. All rooms have a door and a lock and are partitioned by plasterboard or corrugated metal walls. There is a steel bed frame, three by six feet, with a mattress at least three inches thick. The room may have a stool or metal locker. Occasionally they have electrical outlets. To maximize ventilation, cubicles have wire mesh ceilings; this is also to impede unlawful visitors. A low-wattage bulb suspended from the chicken wire is the only light source. And there is a four-inch gap between floor and wall for further ventilation.”
These images touch on the invisibility of the disadvantaged in America and how the margins of society are narrowing making it even more difficult for the underprivileged to salvage a bit of dignity and get out of a difficult situation.
- Jeremy Damato
Watson, Carl. “Men in Cages (Reflection on Skid Row Society).” The Chicago Reader 05 Nov. 1992: 15. Reader News & Politics Web. 12 Aug. 2016.