The Wrecking of Cabrini-Green

KennethHammond3.JPGThis is Ken Hammond. He was born on the fourteenth floor of the building being demolished behind him.

The building’s only official name was 630 West Evergreen, and it was part of the Cabrini-Green housing complex. Until earlier this year when he received a notice to leave, Kenny had lived there his entire life — first on the fourteenth floor with his mom and then on the sixth floor when he had a family of his own.

The city’s been tearing down Cabrini-Green in phases for a while, and it will probably still be coming down this time next summer. It’s part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.

I met Kenny last week when I stopped by to take some photos. He now works, ironically, for the wrecking company. The company is required to hire a certain percentage of CHA residents for the project.

Ken proudly pulled out his i.d. card to show me that he had lived there. When I asked how he felt seeing his former home come down he replied, “It’s a hurting feeling.” He admitted that he had shed some tears behind those sunglasses.

Gesturing toward the building as if it were inhabited and not being pounded by a wrecking ball, he said, “It’s been an honor to be among these people.”

Kenny will relocate his family into one of the new townhomes when they’re finished, but he wants to help keep the Cabrini-Green community together. Aside from working for the wrecking company, he does a lot of other work in the community at two nearby parks. He worries that many of the people who received Section 8 housing vouchers when they were dislocated from Cabrini-Green will be at risk if they fall behind even just a little on their payments.

But, when I spoke with him, Kenny was mostly focused on remembering the community he grew up in. He’s been getting a few bricks for his friends as mementos. He kept the “640 W. Evergreen” sign that hung over the building’s entrance so it wouldn’t be demolished.

The next thing he wants to do is finish a documentary he’s been writing about life inside “the block,” one of the many nicknames he and his friends gave the building.

6 Comments so far

  1. Alana (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 8:36 am

    Jennifer- This is one of the best articles I’ve ever seen on this site. Take the rest of the day off and go to the park. :)

  2. steven (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 11:26 am

    What a story. Nice job, Jennifer. Most of the articles I’ve read in the papers regarding this situation just state the facts. Yours gets in there, gets in your head, with the folks who actually experienced it. I think this one should definitely be one of the best of’s on the Metroblogging site.

    Alana’s right, take the day off. And, um, yeahhhh, tomorrow I’m going to need you to submit a full TPS report on the scandals swimming thru the corridors of City Hall.

  3. Rob Dee (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 11:49 am

    Tell Kenny to keep writing – His sound’s like a great goup of stories!

  4. That Darn Kat (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

    Well done. Great post.

  5. Jennifer Roche (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 7:25 pm

    Thank you for the kind comments. I really appreciate them. Happy Monday night, everybody.

  6. Alana (unregistered) on August 8th, 2005 @ 9:28 pm

    Jennifer’s having The Best Day Ever!

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