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Lathrop Homes

Bounded roughly by Clybourn Avenue, Leavitt Street, Damen Avenue and the Chicago River, Chicago
(Robert DeGolyer, Jens Jensen, et. al., 1935-38)

 

The Julia C. Lathrop Homes are one of the city’s oldest and most unique public housing complexes. In an attempt to eradicate Chicago’s Depression-era slums, Mayor Edward Kelly allocated WPA funds to the design of humane public housing complexes. An architectural “dream team”, headed by Robert DeGolyer, was assembled for the task which included landscape

 
 

 

architect Jens Jensen, Prairie School architects Hugh M.G. Garden and Tallmadge & Watson, along with Hubert Burnham (Daniel Burnham’s son). Thirty buildings—a combination of two-story row houses and three- and four-story apartment blocks—were built on 35 acres of near-north side riverfront land. Expansive open spaces, curving walkways, and beautiful vistas characterize the site.

 

In July of 2006, the Chicago Housing Authority announced plans to raze the entire complex to build 1,200 new mixed-income apartments, condominiums, and town homes—a plan opposed by some of the Homes’ current residents and local neighborhood associations. In an area of Chicago now defined by big box developments and gated communities, Lathrop Homes features a still-innovative site plan with structurally sound brick buildings that could be reused. Only three developments of this type were constructed and, with the recent demolition of the Jane Addams Homes on Chicago’s near West Side, the loss of the Lathrop Homes would erase one of the last remaining examples of the city’s early public housing legacy.

 

  What Can I Do? Urge the Mayor and Alderman Manny Flores to push for a redevelopment solution that includes preservation. Contact Mayor Richard Daley, Office of the Mayor City Hall - 121 N. LaSalle, Room 507, Chicago, IL 60602 and Alderman Manny Flores, 1st Ward, 2058 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 / ward01@cityofchicago.org.

 

 
     

 

 

 

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