Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stateway Gardens, formerly located along State Street from 35th to 39th Streets, was among the most dangerous public housing projects in the city. Before Stateway was built between 1955 and 1958, the area was a low-rise African American community. While not a great neighborhood, it had a grand history near “The Stroll,” and many of its mid-century problems were due the racial covenant policies of the city, which had caused severe overcrowding in the African American districts. Like all public housing, Stateway was built with good intentions, but through both problems of design as well as persistent neglect and disinvestment, the eight sixteen-story highrises became severely run-down. By the 1970s, they were a hot spot for murder and drug sales that not even the police could control. In fact, the police often took part in the problems rather than solved them.

Public housing is a topic I am fascinated with, so you will see more on it on this blog in future posts. For now, enjoy these pictures I took of the demolition of the last building in this complex, in 2007. Note the bright colors a lot of the tenants painted their units – a way to fight the dark conditions that surrounded them in life, perhaps.

Good books to read if you are interested in the history, architecture, and sociology of public housing in Chicago:

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh, 2008.

The Poorhouse: Subsidized Housing in Chicago, 1895-1976 by Devereux Bowly, 1978.

There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz, 1992.

Posted by Posted by The Loosh at 10:34 PM