D.B. Hunt | Chicago Reader

Recent Comments

Re: “They Didn't Think of the Children

There have been several interesting comments that I would like to address, especially involving youth density.

Preguica argues that public housing residents should be blamed for having multiple children that they could not support. While I would never support social regulation of childbearing, the broader issue here is how societies deal with their poor. Socities have always had poor families and have always had large families - and some both poor and large. The question is how to help these families. Public housing policy in Chicago in the 1960s made an unthinking choice to concentrate the large families in one place - high-rise buildings. It is important to note that when high-rises opened in the 1960s, the majority of families were two-parent and working-class. But the social disorder resulting from historically unprecedented youth density (read Chapter 6 of my book) drove out these two-parent, working-class families (they had options due to their income), leaving behind poorer, single-parent households by the 1970s.

This change over time is important, and it addresses Disco Dave's comment. In the 1960s, the fathers WERE there, and yet projects still experienced enormous social disorder problems. In the 1970s, fathers were more likely to be "missing" (or at least not on leases and not counted - but many were still around), but the number of children per household also dropped in the 1970s, as single-mothers had fewer children than the two-parent families of the 1960s.

Mitchco suggests that the CHA under Mayor Richard J. Daley was a racist institution, and I won't challenge the general racism that pervaded city government in those years (as well as most governments across the country).

But several large scale projects in Chicago were planned before Daley became Mayor in 1955 under far more progressive auspices (as I describe in Chapter 3). I argue that even if Chicago's city government had somehow been enlightened and progressive, we still would have had large-scale slum clearance accompanied by high-rise public housing in the 1950s and early 1960s. (We would also have had more low-rise housing on the fringes of the city, like Altgeld Gardens).

I appreciate the feedback and comments.
D. Bradford Hunt

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by D.B. Hunt on 05/26/2010 at 3:26 PM

Favorite Places

  • None.
Find places »

Saved Events

  • Nada.
Find events »

Saved Stories

  • Nope.
Find stories »

Custom Lists

  • Zip.