The Fall of Cabrini-Green

by Christopher Foltz

Cabrini-Green, the “famous” Chicago Housing Authority development, setting of the show “The Good Times” is almost a memory. The last building is not far from being gone. For many this is a sign of good things, for some it is a loss. I went over there in the early afternoon to take some shots before it is gone, and a young man said to me as I was shooting “Why you guys come over take pictures of our hood, like we are something bad.” Well this is not why I went to take these shots. It was to catch a glimpse of history, to capture something that will leave a lasting memory of what was and now is. His attitude towards me shows the controversy and history left with “Cabrini-Green.”

A quick history of Cabrini-Green: (Taken from Wiki: Cabrini-Green

The development officially began with the Frances Cabrini Rowhouses built in 1942. Frances Cabrini was an Italian-American nun who served the poor and was the first American to be canonized. Additions were added until 1962 when the full development was completed to its full state. At its peak, over 15,000 residents lived in the Cabrini-Green complex. Through its history it became synonymous for what is wrong in America with Public Housing. Gangs took control of certain buildings and violence was prevalent. Buildings were not taken care of, graffiti was everywhere, and residents lived in fear and poverty. In 1981, Jane Byrne, then Chicago’s mayor, moved into Cabrini-Green in a demonstration to make the development safer. backed by a number of security guards and police, she lasted on three weeks.


This was all that was left standing as of Tuesday April 12th, 2011. What will come of this area next? We will wait and see.