Friday, May 13, 2011

A Grand Experiment

"..(O)ne of the principal problems...with mixed-income neighborhood development in Chicago has been its mistaking the look of the city for the underlying processes that can sustain busy, congenial neighborhood life. The new urbanist builders of the mixed-income neighborhoods talke the Jacobs talk, but walk the upscale residential developer's walk."

Larry Bennett,The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism

Bennett's chapter on Chicago's Plan for Public Housing Transformation is the best in his book. It weaves a fascinating story containing the intellectual assumptions about concentrated poverty, the variations of housing advocacy and policy, and the real life of mixed-income communities for low-income residents. I remember a hsouing developer friend who described Chicago's Plan as "breathtaking." What comes across is a breakthtaking experiment in social engineering of a different sort.

One long time public housing resident observed,"Once you see dogs coming in, then you know the neighborhood is gone...."

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