Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cabrini Green

After reading the book, "Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way", and our initial discussion of it in class, I took some time this evening to Google Cabrini Green. I looked at photos and watched a few videos on YouTube that were, in a nutshell, jaw-dropping. Seeing these images, someone (who is completely unaware of what "urban renewal" really means in most cases) would think that the Chicago Housing Authority is doing the "right thing" by demolishing this area and revamping it.

However, there are always two sides to every story. As I was scanning through some articles, I came across this one, "Two Tales of One City", from the Good Magazine website. The overview of the article is:
"For decades, the Cabrini-Green projects represented the worst of urban blight. Now, in the most massive public housing overhaul the country has ever seen, Chicago is tearing them down. But when you get rid of the slums, where do you put the people?"

It's an article that shed some light on the "other side" of the topic for me, especially when I read that in the new development, "20% [of the new units] have been set aside for affordable housing; 1/3 for public housing. The rest are selling for up to $850,000 a piece." We read in the book about how valuable the land the school and Cabrini Green was on, this just proves the point.

Having read up a little more on what has happened to Cabrini Green over the last several years, I began to wonder about the actual students from the book. They fought so hard to get a new elementary school in the community, and learn that the school was going to be closed anyways. It was a course that was already in motion (i.e. the school board changing the bus routes so that there was a subsequent decline in attendance). I wonder what has happened to them now. They were fifth grade students in 2004, which means that they are now at the high school level. With the redevelopment of Cabrini Green, thousands of families were forced to leave the area. Were these students caught up in the under-tow too?


  1. It's a truly sad development that, unfortunately, happens all the time. The creation of new developments in replace of affordable housing in disrepair continues to happen in the New York/New Jersey area too. In researching for my community inquiry project I came across an article that said the movement of more economically stable New Yorkers to Hudson county, NJ (along the Hudson river) has pushed poorer families inland to less nice housing.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Wow, what an eye opener. It has me thinking about what happened to all the people in the Newark projects that have been demolished. There were few people that contested the idea that the projects were a dismal failure but where did the families go? I may see if I can shed some light on that.

  3. Great blog. It truly is an eye-opener. These public housing overhauls do not really solve anything. I feel as though it just moves the problem somewhere else. This happens everywhere. You talked about how a lot of the new housing units were selling for $850,000. So clearly all the people that used to live here are not going to be around anymore. Where do they go? Eventually they will settle somewhere and the problem of poverty will still exist. I do not know what the answer is but I hope people realize that projects such as these are not helping solve the problems that face inner cities.

  4. I think it's great how our class motivated you to become more informed about Cabrini Green. Thanks for sharing what you found. I also wonder about those kids. It makes me sick to know that these projects are so well thought out for financial benefit, with absolutely no regard or compassion to the people most affected. I truly hope that the potential that overflowed from these kids during the school building project was not demolished as well.