Chicago Gang History

Status: Demolished

Lake Park Properties

Also known asOlander Homes and Washington Park Homes
LocationOakwood Boulevard on the north, 42nd Place on the south, Lake Shore Drive on the east, Lake Park Avenue on...
NeighborhoodOakland
Constructed1952-1963
Demolished1991 except 3983 S. Lake Park Avenue

 

Construction began in 1952 at 3983 S. Lake Park Avenue to build a large 15 story high rise with 150 units for public housing that was completed in 1953.  The project was named after Victor A. Olander who was a labor leader for sailors.  In the year 1954 an extension was built for the Olander projects with another 15 story high rise at 3939 S. Lake Park Avenue that also had 150 units.  In 1961 construction began on the Washington Park Homes at 4040 S. Oakenwald Avenue which was completed in 1962, this building contained another 150 units and was also a 15 story high rise.  Construction began in 1962 on a series of three more high rises at 41st and Lake Park Avenue that would consist of 16 story high rises that would have another 457 units between them. 

These projects were well maintained and taken care of by the CHA in the earlier days as they were all a part of Lake Park Properties.  The Oakland neighborhood became a rougher place to live as the 1960s progressed bringing gang activity and crime to the area and by the mid-1970s CHA funding was having a hard time keeping up with repairs to these projects as they began to deteriorate, by the late 1970s these buildings began to crumble and became infested with drug and gang activity, the 1980s were the worst times for these projects and gang members roamed freely in and around these buildings. 

In the year 1985 the CHA offered to relocate residents while the buildings were going to be rehabbed in order to bring in mixed income tenants.  This was the very first attempt of CHA doing this plan that became highly prevalent in the 1990s and 2000s after the Hope IV grant was given to Chicago in 1993; the Lake Park rehab was the earliest and only renovation plan before that grant (Chicago Tribune Stanley Ziemba and Cheryl Devall, September 26, 1985)

Residents in these projects did not want to leave so CHA cut off the water and electricity and stopped repairs to flush tenants out and gradually tenants left the buildings until the majority left by 1988.  renovations were made at 3983 S. Lake Park Avenue, that still stands today, all the other 5 project buildings were torn down in 1991 (Chicago Tribune Steve Johnson, August 15, 1991).  This was the first Chicago public housing project to be torn down and the original plan was to replace the area with mixed income housing, which became a common promise after the Hope VI Grant was bestowed upon Chicago in 1993.

Published: Updated: