Our community’s history is one of the most extensive and complex of any in Chicago. We were within the city limits when Chicago was incorporated in 1835. Close proximity to downtown resulted in the area being a port of entry for many immigrants arriving in Chicago in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Physical and extensive social infrastructure developed and evolved to accommodate and serve the people calling this community home.
In the past, residents have had little voice in changes made through external forces. This led to distrust between the community, the City of Chicago, and the prominent institutions within our boundaries. Ours is a community of tremendous opportunity for positive change and development. C4C hopes to ensure that the community has a voice in decisions impacting our well-being, promoting positive discourse, and develop relationships between residents and the institutions located here.
Large institutions are and have been the predominant feature of our community. We were the site of the first federal public housing complex. In 1935, twenty-six acres of land between Racine Ave. and Loomis St. were chosen as the site for 1,027 units of public housing. In 1937 the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) was established as a municipal corporation, and in 1938 the CHA’s Jane Addams Homes opened. Title One of the Housing Act of 1949 started the urban renewal program to reshape American cities and expanded the federal government’s role in public housing. The state of Illinois and the Federal government passed several eminent domain bills in the 1940′s and 1950′s that drastically changed our communities’ landscape.
The Chicago Housing Authority’s ABLA (Abbott, Brooks, Loomis, and Addams) Homes were completed between 1940 and 1960. The Circle Interchange and expressway system were built; the Illinois Legislature adopted the Illinois Medical District Act establishing the Illinois Medical District, and the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois was established. Today, the institutional landscape of our community looks very different. In 1996 the University of Illinois at Chicago procured master development services for its extensive South Campus Development. This development along with public housing demolition and redevelopment dramatically altered the demographics of our community.
Of the original 3,623 units of the ABLA Homes – which occupied 98 acres – 3,167 were demolished. Three hundred thirty units of the one-story Brooks Homes just south of Roosevelt Road between Racine Ave. and Loomis St. were renovated in 1999 along with 126 units of Loomis Courts. Roosevelt Square, the name of the mixed-income redevelopment meant to replace ABLA, is one of the largest Chicago Housing Authority Plans for Transformation in the City of Chicago and one of the largest redevelopments of public housing in the nation begun under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOPE VI program meant to replace notorious, large public housing developments with mixed-income communities of hope and opportunity. The Illinois Medical District – a self-sustaining unit of local government, controls development and zoning throughout the 560 acre District. It is home to the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System, Miles Square Health Center, Rush University Medical Center hospital, the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and other large government facilities. The Illinois Medical District Commission has in the past frequently been controversial for poor management and corruption but is now under new governance and executive leadership that aims to expand innovation in healthcare, medical science, information technology, biotechnology, medical devices, clean technology, and supportive assisted living.