In 1981 this Near North Side public housing strip broke national headlines when 11 people died there during a three-month span.
One row house resident even calls Cabrini-Green’s legacy of violence the reason why some refer to it as “Chi-raq” today.
It also remains to be the biggest example of how American public housing went wrong.
Shortly after 11 people died in 1981, then Mayor Jane Byrne moved into one of the Cabrini apartments in an effort to prove that it was safe to live there. But as the above linked New York Times article states, the problems continued right after she left.
The least of its problems included daily situations where mothers would be forced to pay gang members money so they would not beat up her children if they chose not join a gang.
Cabrini made national headlines again in 1997 when a nine-year-old girl (Girl X) was left for dead after being raped inside the 1121 N Larabee St building.
Two years later, the Chicago Housing Authority began its Plan For Transformation which includes demolishing most of Cabrini, rehabbing what remains, and building a mixed-income building where former CHA residents can live in the same area as market renters.
Today all that remains of Cabrini-Green which started in 1942 are its row houses (pictured above). I took the above photos while on a shoot for WYCC’s In the Loop.
Episode 115 attempts to explore what has happened in the days since 15,000 residents were left displaced after the wrecking ball came down on the last of the 24 original towers in 2011.
Modified on August 23, 2013.