Lisa Yun Lee and Sunny Fischer of the National Public Housing Museum.
I often tell of what I knew of Chicago when I first arrived in 1973.
My first job here was at Stewart-Warner, located at Diversey and Leavitt. My job was a wire winder for automobile gauges.
In those days, many Chicago neighborhoods had a local school, a church, a bar and a factory.
Chicago was still a destination city for people looking for good jobs and union work, whether they were African Americans from Mississippi, or immigrants from Poland or Mexico.
A block from Stewart-Warner was Lathrop Homes, a large complex of low-rise apartments that stretched along the the north branch of the Chicago River.
Anne and I had just met and we had planned a date at the F & Z, a country music bar on Milwaukee and California. She asked if I knew anybody to join us on a double date because her co-worker, Mary, was coming too.
Mary grew up and lived at Lathrop, as many Stewart-Warner workers did. They were all part of a neighborhood.
Steward-Warner is gone now. It was replaced by condos.
Lathrop Homes has been mostly emptied out. Although still owned by the Chicago Housing Authority, it is being rehabbed and is currently in the process of being replaced by a hundreds of market rate units.
In fact, Chicago’s public housing has largely disappeared.
Along with many of its neighborhood public schools.
And its industrial base.
And hundreds of thousands of African Americans who have left the region over the past 20 years.
Replaced by walled cities within the city for the rich.
Like the proposed Lincoln Yards.
On Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers we will be joined by Lisa Yun Lee and Sunny Fischer of the National Public Housing Museum, located where ABLA homes, another public housing project, once stood on the west side.
11am. 105.5fm. Streaming at http://www.lumpenradio.com. Later on podcast.