Chicago's Gold Coast Says Bye to Poor Neighbor

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Just a few blocks from Chicago's affluent Gold Coast, the infamous Cabrini-Green Public Housing Project will soon be no more. On Thursday, the last highrise resident of what was once 15,000 people spread across 23 highrises and row houses on a 70-acre site, moved out.

Annie Ricks, 54, moved into Cabrini in 1990, two years after a rented house she lived in burned down, leaving her homeless, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Rent for her four-bedroom, fifth-floor Cabrini apartment at 1230 N. Burling, ranged between $3 and $300 a month during the two decades she lived there. Six of her 13 children still live with her.

As AOL News published, the highrises, "with their fenced-in balconies and horrific high-profile crimes, were a symbol of the failure of public housing in America. Their closure this month marks the end of an ugly era....where little boys were gunned down on their way to school and little girls were sexually assaulted and left for dead in stairwells."

Built in 1942 to house mostly poor Italian-American war workers, most of the buildings have long since been razed, including the 1160 N. Sedgwick open-gallery high rise known as the "Rock," which is where former Mayor Jane Byrne and her husband once "lived" for three weeks in 1981 to make a statement about her efforts to make the area safer for residents after a gang war had killed 11 residents in three months.

In 1992, a 7-year-old boy was shot while walking to school holding his mother's hand, and in 1997, a 9-year-old girl
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was raped and poisoned and left in a stairwell with gang graffiti scribbled on her body.

But those were scenes of violence that gripped national headlines. For those who called Cabrini home, they also hold some fond memories of their time there.

"I been here basically my whole life, like it's hard leaving when you've got so much memories of it, you knew everyone, you felt safe," said Ricks' daughter Rose, a Lincoln Park High School student, according to a report by WLS-TV, the local ABC affiliate.

Named after Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American canonized by the Roman Catholic church, Cabrini-Green originally housed a population of war workers, primarily poor Italians and the ethnic mix of Irish, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans, until by the mid 1960s basically only the blacks remained, according to history reports.

Demolitions began in 1996, but three, now vacant, high rises still stand, as do approximately 300 units of low-rise housing, reports We The People Media. The remaining high rises likely will be demolished in early 2011, but the fate of the row homes is still uncertain.

Rental apartments and homes for sale as part of a mixed-income community are already in the works for the transformation of the area. In the mean-time, displaced residents have ben offered homes in other public housing units or city-owned single-family residences.

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