The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Public Housing in Chicago

This seminar will explore the troubled yet still hopeful history of public housing in Chicago from the 1930s to the present day. Starting with the earliest visions of public housing, the seminar will move through the goals behind the mass expansion of the program in Chicago in the 1950s, the reasons for its neglect through the 1970s and 1980s, the origins of its destruction in the 1990s, and the values in its new incarnations in the 21st century. Readings, lecture, and discussion will range widely, including ideas on design and community, race and class, rules and rights. The voices of public housing residents, the eyes of planners, and the ambivalence of the general public will be part of the conversation. Finally, we will put Chicago's public housing experiences in national and international context to try to understand alternate paths in state-sponsored efforts to better house citizens.