Peter Bacon Hales

Born in Pasadena, California, and raised in Guilford Connecticut, Peter Bacon Hales received a BA in English and American literature and creative writing from Haverford College.  After a year spent photographing, writing, and making music in Philadelphia and New York, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he received MA and PhD degrees in Photography and American Civilization, studying with the photographers Russell Lee and Garry Winogrand, and with the cultural historians William Stott, Robert Crunden, and William H. Goetzmann.  He served briefly as an editor of Darkroom Photography​ magazine, then taught at California State University, Fullerton, before taking a position in the History of Architecture and Art Department at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He remained there for more than three decades before leaving in 2012. He has written a number of books and essays on American culture and its history.  Silver Cities:  The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839-1915 appeared in 1984 and won a number of academic prizes;  it was rereleased in a much-revised and much expanded form as Silver Cities:  Photographing American Urbanization, 1839-1939​, in 2006. ​William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape ​appeared in 1988. A string of collaborative projects followed, notably with the photographers Mark Klett and Bob Thall, and with the Art Institute of Chicago's centenary commemoration of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  During that time, he also exhibited a series of documentary photography projects, at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, the Chicago History Museum and other venues, and contributed to two major documentary projects-- Changing Chicago, and City2000.  In 1997, Atomic Spaces:  Living on the Manhattan Project appeared;  it won the Herbert Hoover Prize for the best work of twentieth-century American history, and the Small Press Book Award that year and was the first-ever runner-up for the Francis Parkman Prize. As a professor, he crossed between the histories of architecture and urbanism and contemporary art history and the history of photography, and moved between the studio arts program and the art history department until the two were wedded as the School of Art and Art History during his time as chair of the art history department. His website Looking at America is a response to the international alumni of the American Studies Institute which he directed for seventeen years under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State.   Today he lives in the Hudson Valley of New York, where he writes, photographs and makes music.