Cabrini Green: Life before and after the high rises

June 5, 2012

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In December 2010, Annie Ricks was the last resident to leave Chicago's Cabrini-Green high rises. Chicago Housing Authority vacated residents from the near north side complex as part of their Plan for Transformation. While some residents moved to the mixed-income community Parkside, adjacent to Cabrini, others relocated to housing scattered throughout the city. The CHA and former Mayor Richard M. Daley cited squalid conditions and crime-laden areas as the reason to adapt from high-rise living to life with all income levels. For many residents, however, closing Cabrini-Green was about more than physical structures; it was about separating from neighbors and losing a sense of community. In a scene from the forthcoming film Cabrini Green: Mixing It Up, young people from the area present this sentiment best when they ask Mayor Richard M. Daley: "If you grew up in Cabrini-Green, would you want them to take your memories?"  

Reporter Ben Austen documents the end of Cabrini-Green in his article "The Last Tower: The decline and fall of public housing" in the May issue of Harper's Magazine. Austen talked to many residents who reminisced about life at the public housing complex, and others who were anxious to know where they would land after the demolition. Chalonda McIntosh was one of the residents who was displaced. She spent a year on Chicago's West Side but then returned to the area and now lives in Parkside. She joined Steve Edwards on Afternoon Shift to share her experinces living at Cabrini-Green, and what life is like now. Harper's Ben Austen and WBEZ South Side reporter Natalie Moore also explained more about the history and lore that surround what some residents just call "The Greens."