Chicago Gang History

Status: Demolished

Ogden Courts

Location13th Place on the north, Ogden Avenue on the south, Talman Avenue on the east, Fairfield Avenue on the west,...
NeighborhoodNorth Lawndale
Constructed1953-1954
Demolished2005

 

The Ogden Courts public housing project was the only project built in the North Lawndale neighborhood.  In the year 1953 it was noticed that North Lawndale had a very large and growing African American population; therefore, public housing was brought to the community for lower income black families.  The project was complete in 1954. 

The complex consisted on two 7 story mid-rise buildings with 10 apartments on each floor (except the first floors that only had 8 apartments) and there was a total of 136 units.   Similarly to all the projects at this point in time the Ogden Courts were comfortable and loved by the residents that moved into them in the earliest days, despite the fact that there were gangs inside these projects like the Vice Lords and Egyptian Cobras; however, the Ogden Courts were not overwhelmed by gangs.

In the mid-1960s the Chicago Housing Authority began taking in residents on a first come first serve basis which brought many unemployed and/or criminals to live in these projects which led to criminal transient groups coming into the buildings selling drugs in the lobby and over time residents feared going through the lobby just to get to their apartments because of the drug activity. The projects became neglected by the CHA of necessary repairs such as with the elevators that often did not work.  There were also protests from residents about lead poisoning found in children in these buildings in the mid-1990s.

Vice Lords continued to have a strong presence in these project buildings for 40 years although most of them were not residents but only came here to sell drugs in the lobby or outside the buildings.  

In the year 1993 New Life Security was hired to watch over these projects which were unarmed Muslim men which greatly deterred crime; however, by 1995 they were no longer in these buildings and crime returned (Chicago Tribune Jerry Thomas, February 22, 1994).

In the year 2005 these two buildings were demolished and nothing was rebuilt accept a parking lot where the buildings once stood.

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