Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

May 1997


Published in Great Plains Research 7:1 (Spring 1997). Copyright © 1997 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


In his rhapsodic introduction to this volume, in which he speaks of the grain elevators of the Midwest as "timeless cathedrals," Aldo Rossi quite accurately describes the power of these familiar icons. To artists, as Mahar-Keplinger notes, the elevator as an essentially industrial object has been transformed because of its intimate connections "with the land and the cycles of nature." While Le Corbusier saw the elevator as a universal building form, American artists such as Demuth and Sheeler saw it as a uniquely American object.

Recent American photographers have been fascinated with the way of life represented by the elevator. Because of their size, scale and longevity grain elevators have become symbolic landmarks in the rural and urban setting. The author has attempted to analyze both rural and urban styles typologically in terms of their constructional systems.