chapter  15
16 Pages

The Myth of Concentrated Poverty

All of us have stories that shape our worldview and lurk behind our scholarship. In 1996, I went to Chicago with my son, who was applying for admission to the University of Chicago. We stayed in the Marriott Courtyard on the edge of the Loop and took a taxi to campus. Th e driver told us that Lakeshore Drive was congested with traffi c, and he made a detour through city streets. Within minutes, the window of the cab framed Cabrini-Green, identifi able by a massive rectangular sign in the middle of an open plaza. Th ere it wasCabrini-Green-the “project” that had achieved iconic notoriety through sensational press reports of anarchy and violence. Th e realization that Cabrini-Green was situated on the edge of Chicago’s legendary Gold Coast provided an epiphanic moment: It was obvious why Cabrini-Green was slated for demolition. It occupied immensely valuable real estate that was in the way of the growth machine. As two geographers (Wyly and Hammel 1999, 711) put it, Cabrini was “an island of decay in seas of renewal.”