A wrecking ball is marking the end of an era this morning at 1230 N. Burling St., otherwise known as Cabrini-Green. The tower there is the last of the housing project's high-rise buildings to be demolished.
A Target Corp." href="../topic/economy-business-finance/consumer-goods-industries/target-corp.-ORCRP014887.topic">Target store may be built on the site, according to published reports. And even though some row houses remain, many consider this the end of Cabrini Green, judged by history as one of the most notorious housing projects in the country.
Cabrini-Green gained a well-earned reputation for gang crime and almost daily violence. Police officers were gunned down there; a sniper snuffed out the life of a 7-year old; a 9-year old girl known as Girl X was found beaten, raped, poisoned and left for dead in a stairwell. Other factors highlighted its problems, specifically its proximity to its wealthier neighbors in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast.
Perhaps lesser known, there were its outspoken residents, who learned tenant management and became landlords. They fought for Cabrini's survival.
In a way, so did former Mayor Jane Byrne" href="../topic/politics/local-authority/jane-byrne-PEPLT007435.topic">Jane Byrne. She moved in for a brief time to draw attention to the problems at the complex. But it became only a matter of time before the dream of "urban renewal" would be replaced by new ideas.
Now all but the 1230 building has been razed. It will start to come down today, and it will take about a week to complete the job.
Cabrini-Green was dedicated in 1942 by a mayor who had high hopes for project that would occupy seven acres of high-rises.
Construction spanned 20 years. Cabrini began as row houses, but construction on hi-rises began in the 1950s and finished a decade later.
At one time 15,000 people resided there. Now where hi-rises once stood lies mostly vacant land. The residents, some who were moved out more quickly than others, relocated either to nearby low-rise affordable housing, to the suburbs or to other parts of the city.
The 1230 building's last resident, Annie Ricks, moved out in December, a lone holdout living with her daughter, Rose. Ricks lived there for 20 years and faced the prospect of moving to the West Side, a place she considered more violent. She is now living at Wentworth Gardens, a rehabbed public housing complex on the South Side.
Target hasn't commented on the possibility of acquiring the site and building a store there. The story was was first reported in Skyline, a publication for residents of Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast.
A crowd of people held a vigil Tuesday night, some dancing along with men playing drums, others gathered, wiping tears from their eyes.
Last Cabrini-Green high-rise coming down today
Demolition begins on the last of the Cabrini-Green buildings on Wednesday. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)