click images for larger viewWalk east of Halsted, a block or two north of Division, and you encounter crisp new upscale housing developments, complete with gated lawns, myriad "Private Property", "No Trespassing" and "Protected by Brinks" signs, and idyllic traffic circles.
Then you get to Burling, and at the street's far end you see this:
What do do? Obliterate all traces of it. Obliterate it from the face of the earth. Which was what finally happened to "Little Hell" during World War II, to be replaced, at first, by the Frances Cabrini Homes, a series of long, two-story townhouse blocks for war workers.
If some was good, more would have to better, yes? In 1958 came the Cabrini Extension, a series of nineteen-story highrises built by the Mies-influenced PACE Associates, a firm that had served as architect of record for such Mies van der Rohe projects such as 860-880 Lake Shore Drive and the Promontory Apartments in Hyde Park. In 1962, the eight Green Homes towers, 15 to 16 stories each, followed. At its peak, 15,000 people lived in Cabrini Green.
Although there were many other public housing projects, equally troubled, the very name, "Cabrini-Green" became shorthand for nightmare images of hell-hole high-rises. When the 1992 terror film, Candyman, portrayed the legend of an evil, murderous spirit, the writers made Cabrini-Green his home. But reality was the more horrifying. Just three days before the film's release, seven-year-old resident Dantrell Davis was murdered by a sniper as he was being walked to school.
Pruitt-Igoe complex in St. Louis in 1972 . . .
. . . just the methodological smash, tear and dismantle, grinding the structure to gravel as it disappears floor-by-floor.
Project Cabrini Green . . .
Jan Tichy and developed together with Efrat Appel . . . created in collaboration with youth from Chicago, most of them attending educational programs in the Cabrini-Green area and with students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.You can see a live video feed from the building here. It will also be on view at the Museum of the Contemporary Art during the demolition.
On March 28th, two days before the beginning of the demolition, 134 self-contained, battery-powered LED modules were placed inside 134 of the building's vacated apartments. The lights will blink every day from 7pm to 1am CST, for the four week duration of the demolition, and will be gradually erased with the building. Each blinking light has a unique pattern. These patterns are a visual translation of poems written and recorded by the youth who attended workshops developed and instructed by Tichy, Appel, and students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Crain's Chicago Business reports that Target is already negotiating for the large parcel just across from Green #1.
Fantastic article, Lynn. I've been in San Franciso for over20 years, but i still remember the darkness of Cabrini-Green well. Thanks for writing about this so eloquently.
I'm just reading this post today, in San Francisco. I used to live in Chicago 20+ years ago, and remember C. G. in the most chilling way. I wish I'd been more on top of it, and been able to watch the LED art installation when it was going on. Your post with pictures is terrifc. Superb writing, Lynn.
A very good photo essay. Sad to see a grand project fail so badly. Reminds me of Tower Hamlets Ronan Point. Tall towers to house those who would not qualify for housing, slum clearance. Specatcular failure 20 yrs later.
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