Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

September 7, 1967

On September 7, 1967, the Chicago Defender reported that the winning teams in the Cabrini-Green Homes softball and basketball tournaments were awarded trophies at a banquet. Over 500 boys and girls participated in the tournaments, as well as a number of adults. First-place trophies went to the Tigers (girls 8–13 years), the Northside Raiders (girls 14–17 years), the Clowns (boys 8–13 years), the Creepers (boys 14–17 years), the Five-Niners (senior men), and the Naturals (men 18 and over). “Mothers of the community prepared over 150 friend chicken dinners for this special occasion which were served by an energetic corps of volunteer teenage waitresses,” the Defender noted. (Click to view article PDF.)

The Cabrini-Green public housing project was built on Chicago’s Near North Side over a two-decade period from 1942 to 1962. Historian Amanda Seligman offers this overview of Cabrini-Green at the Encyclopedia of Chicago

Neighborhood in the Near North Community Area. Formerly “Swede Town” and then “Little Hell,” the site of the Cabrini-Green public housing complex was notorious in the early twentieth century for its inhabitants' poverty and dilapidated buildings. During World War II, the Chicago Housing Authority razed Little Hell and built a low-rise apartment project for war workers, naming it the Frances Cabrini Homes after the first American canonized by the Catholic Church. CHA further transformed the area with the high-rise Cabrini Extension (1958) and William Green Homes (1962). The original population of Cabrini-Green reflected the area’s prior ethnic mix; poor Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans lived among the war workers and veterans. Racial segregation overtook Cabrini-Green by the early 1960s.
The large new apartments and large swaths of recreation space failed to mend the area’s poverty. The difficulty blacks had finding better, affordable housing gave Cabrini-Green a permanent population. CHA failed to budget money to repair buildings and maintain landscaping as they deteriorated. Cabrini-Green’s reputation for crime and gangs rivaled Little Hell’s. The murders of two white police officers in 1970 and of seven-year-old resident Dantrell Davis in 1992 drew national attention.
Increasing real-estate values in the late twentieth century led housing officials to propose replacement of the complex with mixed-income housing. Residents argued however that such a move would displace them permanently, completing the slum removal effort begun with the building of Cabrini Homes half a century earlier.

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