Julia Lathrop Homes is the best public housing development that Chicago has ever built, representing a racially mixed and remarkably stable community for generations of Chicagoans. Beautifully sited along the Chicago River with a magnificent and mature landscape, the buildings are low-rise and gently ornamented, creating an intimate, humane atmosphere. The development is small scale, low-density and well integrated with the surrounding neighborhood.
During the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal government was determined to create much-needed public housing, and, at the same time, provide jobs for unemployed architects and building trades workers. To find a solution to the perpetual problem of creating livable public housing, the government assembled a “Dream Team” of the best and brightest architects from Chicago.
However, in July of 2006, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) announced its intention to demolish Lathrop Homes and replace it with an apartment-condominium-townhome development — this in a part of the city already grasping to maintain its visual, social and historical diversity under a wave of big-box and luxury condominium development.
In 2010, the CHA board approved an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) to redevelop Lathrop into a mixed-income community. The community residents and stakeholders continue to advocate for the complete physical and social preservation of their community. To date, no guarantee has been made that any of the historic buildings or landscapes will be preserved and residents continue to battle with the CHA leadership for the preservation of their community.