High Rises

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The goal of public housing was to provide decent housing for poor and low-income families. In Chicago, there were two different types of public housing. There was low-rise housing, which was later replaced by high-rise housing during the final years of World War II. Low-rise housing can be best defined as housing that was no more than three stories tall that contained stairs rather than elevators for tenants to use to get to the upper floors of the building. These buildings were also known as walk-ups. On the other hand, high rises can be best defined as multistory elevator buildings. Most families preferred to live in low-rises, but were eventually forced to move into high-rises when city dynamics changed in the post World War II era. According to several sources, high-rises came to replace the low-rises, but were not viewed in the same way. Many believe that high-rises were not suitable places to live, for they were not structured to safely and comfortably accommodate tenants. In the 1940’s, after World War II had ended, the creation of the “second ghetto” began as a result of over-population in the “first ghetto”. One of the major changes that were brought into the public housing community was high-rises. The main purpose of building high-rises was to accommodate more tenants within a single building. Many people and organizations, particularly the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), were involved in the construction of such projects. Some of the projects were located on the near north side while others were built on the southern and western sides of the city. Most of the high-rises were built within close range of the city to offer tenants easier access to resources that the city provided— resources such as job... ... middle of paper ... ... This resulted in a decrease of funds that could be used to maintain the property. This is what ultimately led to the deterioration and demolition of the high-rises later in the century. After 1950, public housing began to deteriorate more rapidly. All of the high-rises were overused and were badly maintained, which accelerated their deterioration. Then, CHA managers stopped screening applicants and the socioeconomic mix of tenants changed, for the CHA began to accommodate all families who had been displaced by slum clearance, especially those who were displaced by urban renewal and expressway construction. In the late 1950s, it was apparent that there were serious physical problems in the high-rise projects. In 1968, the CHA stopped constructing high-rises in black areas because the federal government stopped funding the construction of high-rise buildings.

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