Friday, January 18, 2008

No, it's not that kind of 'green'

What would Frances Cabrini and William Green think? The remaining few red brick (the Reds) and white concrete (the Whites) highrise canyons known as Cabrini-Green are slowly but finally, resting in pieces. Sixty-five years after the inception of one of the least successful social experiments in U.S. history, closure, if not complete demolition, is finally in order.

Dotted along a stretch of land that was planned as an enclave of low income housing and actually occupied by Italian imigrants in its early days, the experiment hit the Near North Chicago landscape (and social elite) like a series of undefendable meteors over a twenty year period. The notorious Green, a community that in many way began decaying before its roots ever took hold, is all but gone now. Only a few skeletons and the ghosts and memories of a couple hundred thousand Chicagoans from a past era remain.

In another five years it will be as if Cabrini-Green never existed; just like the current intersection of Armitage and Sheffield, the cafe society ground zero of upscale Lincoln Park (Starbucks, Vosges, Rugby) that once was home instead, to five (5) liquor stores on four (4) adjacent corners and dozens of heroin 'shooting galleries' within spitting distance. I'm not saying one way or another which is better although I suppose if forced to choose, I'd rather be caught dead in a Polo shirt and Dockers in Lincoln Park in the year 2008 than in an alley with a needle in my arm in 1968. But believe me, both scenarios are pure fiction.

Anyway, here's to the future of Urban Development and responsible City Planning---may they eventually get it right so we can all move on to more pressing issues, like bringing the 2016 Olympics to town, saving the Public Transportation infrastructure, and watching baseball when the ivy is brown at Wrigley or the Autumn wind is blowing out over left-center at 35th and Wentworth...

images by technovelgy and me

Geno Petro

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