Our community’s history is one of the longest and most complex of any in Chicago. We were within the city limits when Chicago was incorporated in 1835 and close proximity to downtown resulted in this area being a port of entry for many immigrants who arrived in Chicago in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Physical and extensive social infrastructure was developed and evolved to accommodate and serve the people who have called this community home.
Ours is a community of tremendous opportunity for positive change and development. In the past, residents have had little voice in changes made through external forces. This unfortunately sometimes led to distrust between the community, the City of Chicago and the prominent institutions that now reside within our boundaries. C4C hopes to improve these relationships by ensuring that the community has a voice in decisions impacting our well-being and by promoting positive discourse and interactions between residents and the institutions located here for our mutual welfare.
Large institutions are and have been the predominate feature of our community. We were the site of the first federal public housing built in Chicago when, in 1935, twenty-six acres of land roughly between Racine Ave. and Loomis St. were selected 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 that would reshape American cities and expanded the role of the federal government in public housing. Expansive powers of eminent domain contained in a set of bills passed first by the Illinois legislature, and later by the federal government in the 1940′s and 1950′s, were used extensively in our community.
Between the 1940′s and the 1960′s, the Chicago Housing Authority’s ABLA (Abbott, Brooks, Loomis and Addams) Homes were completed; the Circle Interchange and expressway system was built; the Illinois Medical District was founded when the Illinois Legislature adopted the Illinois Medical District Act; 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 have 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 that controls development and zoning throughout the 560 acre District – is home to the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System and its new Miles Square Health Center facility, a new 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 and aims to expand innovation in healthcare, medical science, information technology, biotechnology, medical devices, clean technology and supportive assisted living.