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Ida B. Wells Homes

The Ida B. Wells Homes were a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing project that was located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It was bordered by Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on the west, Cottage Grove Avenue to the east, 37th Street to the north, and 39th Street (Pershing Road) to the south. The Ida B. Wells Homes consisted of rowhouses and mid- and high-rise apartment buildings and were constructed for African Americans from 1939 to 1941. They were demolished beginning in 2002 and ending in 2011.

Named for African American journalist and newspaper editor Ida B. Wells,[1] the housing project was constructed between 1939 and 1941 as a Public Works Administration project to house black families in the ghetto, in accordance with federal regulations requiring public housing projects to maintain the segregation of neighborhoods.[2] [3] [4] It was the fourth public housing project constructed in Chicago before World War II and was much larger than the others, with 1,662 units.[2] It had more than 860 apartments and almost 800 row houses and garden apartments,[1] and included a city park, Madden Park. Described as handsome [and] well planned, the project was initially a sought-after address and a route to success.[5] [6]

In 1961, the Clarence Darrow Homes were built adjacent to the Ida B. Wells Homes. In 1970, the last of the Chicago Housing Authoritys high-rise housing projects, the Madden Park Homes, were built north of the Wells homes.[7] The three huge, contiguous projects lined the northern edge of North Kenwood Park and Oakland.[8]

Like many other Chicago housing projects, the Wells homes were plagued by problems such as neglect by the housing authority,[9] gang violence, shootings, and drug dealing.[10] The Black P. Stones gang in particular asserted authority over the area and residents of the Ida B. Wells Homes; Eugene Hairston, co-founder of the gang, was shot dead at his home there in September, 1988.[11] One mother-and-son cocaine ring in the project