Friday, June 5, 2009

Chicago's Public Housing Museum

A series on historic residential buildings around the world that have been turned into museums.

Most historic housing projects on the Lower East Side, like Knickerbocker Village near the Manhattan Bridge, home to mobsters for part of the 20th century, and East River Housing, which replaced 13 acres of slums in the 1950s, are still occupied today.
Not so for one of Chicago's early public housing developments. Founded by social reformer Jane Addams during the Great Depression, it provided affordable one and two bedroom apartments for struggling Mexican, Italian, Jewish, and African-American families until the early part of this century, when the buildings were abandoned.
A group of social historians and preservationists are now converting this building into a museum modelled after "the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City, the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, and other social history museums throughout the world." [Public Housing Museum]
Check their website to learn more, as they work to "create a place for social reflection, public dialogue, and education for the future."

Affordable housing projects, here and in Chicago:

Left: The East River Housing Project near the Williamsburg Bridge. Right: The only remaining building of the Jane Addams Houses complex, abandoned in 2002, and now a museum.

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