Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Gap - Calumet-Giles-Prairie District

Calumet-Giles-Prairie District..
Address: 3100-3500 blocks of Calumet, Giles and Prairie Avenues
Year Built: 1870-1910
Architect: Various..
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: July 13, 1988..

The three city blocks between 31st and 35th Streets - known as the "Gap" - is one of the few surviving collections of rowhouses on the South Side, dating from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. It's referred to as the "Gap," due to its survival in the midst of other areas that had been cleared for redevelopment in the 1960s. It includes the Roloson Houses..

In recent years, the area has undergone substantial rehabilitation, including construction of many new "infill" residences.

In 1941, the Chicago Housing Authority constructed the Ida B. Wells public housing project south of 35th Street. It which was the first CHA project built specifically for black residents. Those days public housing was officially segregated by racial covenants. Several square miles of late 19th and early 20th century small scale, residential housing were demolished to make way for huge, low-income, high-rise developments all around Calumet, Giles and Prairie Avenues. The three blocks of Calumet-Giles-Prairie District also had it's share of demolition.. although many buildings still survive and showcase the rowhouses during the late-19th and early-20th centuries..

The Chicago Housing Authority [CHA]..
was founded in 1937.. It is responsible for all public housing in the city of Chicago. It is a municipal not-for-profit corporation, governed by commissioners who are appointed by the mayor.

Prior to World War II there were four projects, all composed of low-rise [two-to-four-story] buildings...
- Jane Addams Houses on the Near West Side
- Julia C. Lathrop Homes on the North Side
- Trumbull Park Homes on the far South Side..
- Ida B. Wells Homes, in the South Side..
The Ida B.Wells Project was different from other projects, as it was for the Blacks. It was also far larger than the other projects.

The racial segregation embodied in these developments was in compliance with federal policy [the “Neighborhood Composition Rule”], which required that the tenants of a housing development be of the same race as the people of the area in which it was located. Managers were selective in choosing among the thousands of families who applied for apartments. There had to be one employed breadwinner and the tenants had to behave according to prescribed rules..
[REf:Chicago Housing Authority.. Encyclopedia of Chicago..]

I have yet to see the Ida B. Wells Apartment..
and will post it's photos, when I see them..

However, it seems that just across the S Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. street, from the Calumet-Giles-Prairie Avenue, was the slums area.. and the Lake Meadows Apartments were built on slum clearance, between 31st and 35th Streets..

The Illinois Institute of Technology and Michael Reese Hospital organized the South Side Planning Board, which planned the community and secured funding from New York Life Insurance Company. The ground breaking was held in 1952, and the units were built between 1953 and 1968. Initially, Lake Meadows stood as an example of an interracial, middle-class community, although now it has became a largely black community.

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