America's Largest Public Housing Project Passes Into History

Robert Taylor Homes, the largest in a wave of urban public housing projects built during the 1960s, has finally fallen victim to the wreaking ball as part of the Chicago Housing Authorities massive redevelopment plans.

"The obituary for the Taylor Homes might read this way:

Born in 1962. Welcomed by politicians with fanfare. Doomed by age 5. Ailing for decades. Dead at age 44. Among the causes: mismanagement, shrinking federal dollars, government blundering, neglect, poor design, drugs and, above all, too many poor people packed in too little space.

Survivors: tens of thousands.

Taylor has been coming down for the past decade, building by building, part of a nationwide movement to rid big cities of decaying, dangerous housing that warehoused the poor.

Nearly 186,000 public housing units have been approved for demolition in Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia and several other cities, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. About 80 percent already are gone.

The federal government also has allocated about $5.6 billion to refashion former public housing areas into smaller communities that combine families of different incomes.

But among big cities, Chicago's public housing stands apart.

It has the most ambitious blueprint for starting over: a $1.6 billion, 10-year "Plan for Transformation" to demolish most family gallery-style public housing high rises (44 of 53 are already gone) and replace them with mixed-income communities."

Thanks to Andres Duany

Full Story: 1962-2006: The life and death of America's largest public housing project

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