David Sudler’s Chicago Igloo

001_igloochicago_010716David Sudler of Chicago works to fill the gaps between blocks of ice on the igloo he constructed on a median on Wacker Dr. at Columbus Dr. in downtown Chicago, early Thursday, January 7, 2016. Sudler, who resides in a high-rise near the intersection, is a retired boilermaker.

The Chicago media was abuzz today with an unusual tale of an igloo that seemingly sprouted up out of nowhere on a median on Wacker Drive. While it was first thought to have been constructed by a homeless person, it turned out that a retired boilermaker and local resident, David Sudler, was the craftsman of the wintery abode. Always a fan of the odd and out-of-place, I decided to take a quick drive up to the city and see / photograph the igloo for myself.

What I didn’t expect to see upon my arrival at 1 a.m. was Sudler himself (whom I immediately recognized from all the news coverage) still toiling away at his creation. I could immediately see how he was mistaken for homeless when the story broke. Clad in a filthy coat, Sudler worked as his long, wispy, unkempt beard and hair were taken in opposite directions by the biting Chicago night wind. After shooting a few overall wide shots, I couldn’t help but go over and introduce myself and pick his brain as to why exactly he was doing this. The answer? “I was bored.”


“I have a tugboat in Alaska, and a chateau in France.”

It quickly became apparent that I was speaking to someone quite intelligent and ambitious, if perhaps landing a bit left of typical social norms. We discussed his volunteer work with two local fire stations (gardening and shoveling snow), his steam-powered tugboat he currently owns in Alaska, his relationship with the inventor of the fluid head camera tripod, along with his brush with Dodi Fayed (who perished with Princess Diana). Had I put more time on my parking meter, I’m sure the stories would have continued!

He also took great pride in the tools he was using to construct the igloo, showing me how solidly constructed they were. He said that superintendents from neighboring high-rises (Sudler lives in a building just across the street from the igloo with his wife) often come to him to borrow tools.

I asked Sudler if the police had bothered him about his project, and he said they hadn’t. I also asked if he would re-construct the igloo throughout the winter as it melted. He assured me that, given his technique of sealing it off with more snow and ice, the igloo was likely to survive intact until the spring. Time will tell.

002_igloochicago_010716David Sudler of Chicago continues work on an igloo he constructed on a median on Wacker Dr. at Columbus Dr. in downtown Chicago, early Thursday, January 7, 2016.

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Thoughts On Life by Guy Rhodes on January 7th, 2016.

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