On the Republic of Apartments

Volume 03, Issue 1

When I was a graduate student, we would seek entertainment as graduate students do—that is, cheaply and without an overabundance of ethical concerns. One cool Chicago weekend, fortified with coffee and donuts, we trudged out onto the Lake Shore Drive median in the dawn's early light to witness a free if bitter spectacle of the turn-of-the-century United States, the destruction by implosion of one of the buildings of the Lakefront Properties high-rise apartments, among the city's notoriously troubled large-scale housing projects. People had lived there—many, despite years of crime, neglect, and problems with the police and with the lack of police, did not want to leave—but urban planners and city government had moved on. And so, we returned home covered in cement dust from what had almost unanimously become a symbol of urban dysfunction, though from that agreement etiological arguments might diverge into discussions of bureaucratic pathology, “the gangs”, de facto segregation and racism, or the evils of modernist overconfidence.

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