Concrete Traffic – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Concrete Traffic

An actual 1957 Cadillac De Ville, encased in 15 cubic yards of concrete. 


Casual observers could be forgiven for mistaking this object, which is in a parking space in the University of Chicago’s Campus North parking structure, for a representational sculpture of a car. In fact, it’s an actual car—a 1957 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, to be exact—encased in 15 cubic yards of concrete. 

Named Concrete Traffic, the piece was created by German artist Wolf Vostell in a January 1970 “happening” at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Vostell was associated with the international art movement Fluxus, with which Yoko Ono (whose 2016 installation “Sky Landing” is located in Jackson Park, approximately 1.5 miles away) was also affiliated.

After about six months on display at the MCA, the artwork was moved to an outdoor location in the Hyde Park neighborhood at 60th and Ingleside, where it remained for four decades. Eventually, Chicago winters began to take their toll on the piece, and in 2016 it was moved to its current location inside the parking structure. If you crouch down, you can see the original whitewall tires, hubcaps, and underbody of the vintage vehicle.

Know Before You Go

Although the street address of the parking structure is 5501 S. Ellis Avenue, the entrance gate (where the concrete car is located) is actually on Greenwood, one block east. The parking structure is also home to a bowling alley (Seven Ten Lanes), which, under a previous name (Lucky Strike), was once frequented by Barack and Michelle Obama.

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