During the lowest points of the Great Depression livable affordable housing was in high demand. During this time federal government decided to build a much needed public housing project near the Northwest area of Chicago in 1938. At this time segregation was still in effect leaving the projects to only white citizens. Later on the area became one of the most diverse areas throughout Chicago.
The construction also provided jobs for unemployed architects and building trades workers. Chicago created the “Dream Team” of the greatest architects at the time from Chicago, including Hugh M.G. Garden, Thomas E. Tallmadge, Vernon Watson, E.E. Roberts, Charles White and Hubert Burnham, with landscaping by Jens Jensen.
An excerpt of a press release from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency via Blair Kamin:
The Julia C. Lathrop Homes is one of the largest and most architecturally elaborate of the 52 initial public housing projects in the United States constructed as part of the New Deal in the 1930s. The federal government sought to create public housing with well-equipped units that had access to well-designed exterior spaces. This dedication to beautiful and useful indoor and outdoor spaces as used in the Lathrop Homes came to dominate affordable housing construction until after World War 2.Famed landscape architect Jens Jensen created small parks and kitchen gardens within the dense Lathrop Homes neighborhoods, providing poor Chicagoans with open space and the chance to plant and tend their own gardens.
Julia C. Lathrop
The projects were named after American social reformer Julia C. Lathrop. She focused on the area of education, social policy, and children’s welfare. She was also the first woman to be a director of the United States Federal Berau.
The Lathrop Housing project was the best ever built in Chicago, being settled along the Chicago river with lush landscape and humane environment. The plans are still set to demolish around half of the historic buildings even after being within the National of Register of Historic Places. Leaving the rest of the buildings for over-due restoration.
Images (Taken on March 28, 2013)