See a videotape of this program on CSPAN's Book TV.
Built in the 1940s atop an infamous Italian slum, Cabrini-Green grew to twenty-three towers and a population of 20,000—all of it packed onto just seventy acres a few blocks from Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast (and the Newberry Library).
Cabrini-Green became synonymous with crime, squalor, and the failure of government. For the many who lived there, it was also a much-needed resource—it was home. By 2011, every high-rise had been razed, the island of black poverty engulfed by the white affluence around it, the families dispersed.
In this novelistic and eye-opening narrative, Ben Austen tells the story of America’s public housing experiment and the changing fortunes of American cities. The account is related movingly through the lives of residents who struggled to make a home for their families as powerful forces converged to accelerate the housing complex’s demise. Beautifully written, rich in detail, and full of moving portraits, High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing is a sweeping exploration of race, class, popular culture, and politics in modern America that brilliantly considers what went wrong in our nation’s effort to provide affordable housing to the poor—and what we can learn from those mistakes.
After the talk, Mr. Austen will sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase.
Download a PDF flyer for this event to post and distribute, and explore related Newberry materials with our Collection Quick Guide on Chicago, Segregation, and Public Housing.
Ben Austen has written for many publications, including Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and New York magazine.
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Excuse our dust!!!
Beginning January 2018 the Newberry is undertaking renovation of much of the ground floor. Ruggles Hall will not be affected, but please check this link frequently for the latest conditions - which exterior doors are open or closed, where to find an accessible entrance, which restrooms are available, etc.