Very few of the more than 1,700 families who were relocated from the development to make space for the Plan for Transformation were subsequently able to reside in the mixed-income housing developed on the former Cabrini-Green site. The final Cabrini-Green high-rises were demolished in late March 2011.
Cabrini-Green was an urban renewal project that began in 1965 when the city of Chicago decided to remove all blight from downtown Chicago. Over 10,000 people were moved out of their homes and into subsidized or market-rate housing as part of this plan. The project included replacing it with parks, schools, and community centers. However, this plan was not completed until many years later. In 1994, the City of Chicago declared bankruptcy due to excessive debt incurred from other public projects. This caused the cancellation of plans for more public housing, which led to the closure of off-site facilities. By 1999, only 14 of the original 26 buildings were still occupied. In 2000, the last family left the development.
Today, the site is home to several large public parks and sports facilities used by residents of adjacent neighborhoods. The redevelopment has been praised for its green design and use of sustainable building techniques, but also criticized for its lack of affordable housing. Only one out of every ten units at Millennium Park are reserved for low-income tenants.
The majority of them relocated into section 8 subsidized housing on the city's south or west sides, or in the suburbs. Many Cabrini-Green residents were also of retirement age and relocated into the CHA's senior housing units. However, a few families chose to stay in their homes and have them rehabilitated by nonprofit organizations that specialize in preserving historic buildings.
Cabrini-Green was abandoned after the Chicago Housing Authority lost its federal subsidy eligibility in October 2016. The CHA had been paying for its own maintenance costs while seeking a new source of funding to maintain the properties.
In May 2017, a plan was announced to convert eight high-rise public housing developments into luxury apartments, townhouses, and small blocks of attached houses. This is expected to increase the number of available rental units by about 5,000 over five years while maintaining affordability. The CHA plans to demolish the remaining 18 high-rises within Cabrini-Green as well as several other large development projects within the neighborhood.
Demolition has already begun on some of the larger buildings, such as the one shown here in an image taken in August 2017. The demolition is expected to continue through at least 2019.
In addition to destroying evidence of drug activity and other criminal behavior, the demolition will make it easier for developers to build more expensive homes in the area.
March 30, 2011 On March 30, 2011, demolition teams demolished the last Cabrini-Green public housing tower. While smaller row buildings remain, the last tower to fall was a powerful emblem of the site, which originally housed almost 15,000 Chicagoans.
Cabrini-Green was one of the largest housing projects in the country when it was built in the late 1950s. It was designed by Robert Maillart and Louis Sullivan, who were both renowned architects at that time. The project consisted of thirty-one square blocks with identical rows of tall apartment towers. It included more than 9,000 units - mostly apartments but also including some townhouses - and 1.1 million square feet of space, which makes it equal in size to about half of downtown Chicago.
The choice of location was deliberate: It was supposed to be a new suburban community for poor blacks moving out of overcrowded urban centers. But once it became clear that there would be no white tenants, the city decided to sell the land to a real estate developer. The development company hired an architect to design houses for sale to black families who could not afford to rent individual rooms in the complex.
Construction on Cabrini-Green began in September 1957 and was completed six years later. It was considered a revolutionary concept for its time: A large number of low-income residents living in one place.
It's true, as he claims, that Cabrini-Green became a symbol for failing public housing partially due to a geographical accident. In actuality, Cabrini-Green was neither Chicago's largest nor its worst housing project—by the 1990s, 92 percent of CHA residents had moved elsewhere—but it was one of the most visible and controversial projects in an urban area filled with them.
Cabrini-Green was built on land that was once part of a private country club, and when construction ended in 1976, nearly 1,000 apartments were ready for families who would never live in them. Most were given to CHA tenants who were being relocated away from the violence of the South Side to make way for new housing developments.
The name "Cabrini-Green" comes from the order of Catholic saints whose bodies are buried in Rome, but it also refers to the green space within the project designed by John L. Pettey and Thomas M. Hines. The park is the largest of its kind in Chicago (larger than Washington Park), covering more than 100 acres with baseball diamonds, playgrounds, and gardens. It's been called the city's best recreation center - until recently, when plans were announced to replace it with a mixed-use development.
Pettey and Hines also planned two 23-story apartment buildings for the site of the park.
|Location||Bordered by Halsted and Larrabee Streets, Clybourn Avenue, Chicago Avenue, and Orleans Street, Near North Side, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Coordinates||41°54′1.5″N 87°38′24.5″WCoordinates: 41°54′1.5″N 87°38′24.5″W|
|Status||140 of 584 Units (Rowhouses; Renovated)|