I remember driving south on 94 and each time there’d be another building gone. Think the Robert Taylor homes were visible from the highway too. I was always fascinated by the number of stories, figuratively and literally speaking, that were being destroyed.
The demolition of the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago was supposed to open up new opportunities for low-income families. But the community has disappeared:
The fifteen-story high-rise was known by its address, 1230 N. Burling. Already stripped of every window, door, appliance, and cabinet, the monolith was like a giant dresser without drawers. The teeth tore off another hunk of the exterior, revealing the words I NEED MONEY painted in green and gold across an inside wall. Chicago was once home to the second-largest stock of public housing in the nation, with nearly 43,000 units and a population in the hundreds of thousands. Since the mid-1990s, though, the city has torn down eighty-two public-housing high-rises citywide, including Cabrini’s twenty-four towers. In 2000, the city named the ongoing purge the Plan for Transformation, a $1.5 billion, ten-year venture that would leave the city with just 15,000 new or renovated public-housing family units, plus an additional 10,000 for senior citizens. Like many other U.S. cities, Chicago wanted to shift from managing public housing to become instead what the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) called ‘a facilitator of housing opportunities.’
“The Last Tower: The Decline and Fall of Public Housing.” — Ben Austen, Harper’s
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