This week I traveled to the Riverdale Community on the far south side of Chicago. I took the Red Line South to 95th St, and then I hopped on the 34 Bus to 130th street. The Altgeld Gardens, Murray homes are really isolated from everything else in Chicago. The Gardens are bounded on the North by a Sewage Treatment plant and on the other side of the river, by industrial dumps.
Altgeld Gardens is a Chicago Housing Project built in 1945. There are 3,400 current residents living at Altgeld. The fact that these "PROJECTS" or "HUMAN EXPERIMENTS" still exists is really quite shocking. I spoke to a few Altgeld Residents to get a sense of the community. The first place they told me to visit is called "The Wall."
"The Wall" or "The Wall of Death" lists the names of deceased Altgeld Residents --- going back decades. It's a tradition at the Gardens to write the names on the wall, so the person's name will be set on stone and never forgotten. This is social capital at its finest. In the Pullman community, residents that live on a different tier of the Socioeconomic laddar, hang fancy art work on the gates in their alleys. At the Altgeld Gardens, the local residents write names on the wall. Beauty can't be stratified.
To Chicago's credit, there are a lot of Social Services offered at the Gardens. There weren't opened the weekend that I visited, which was quite confusing, but I got a sense from the residents that these services are truly appreciated. One resident told me that the social services should be offered to all Altgeld residents, not just CHA residents. According to him, if you're not a CHA resident, you can't use the computers, or job placement programs.
President Obama would be happy to know that the people of Altgeld Gardens still remember his presence. He touched a lot of folks lives out here. The lady below told me a story of how she shook President Obama's hand once. She said "Back then, Obama was a community activist and his hair was all black." I could tell that this was a memorable moment in this lady's life. She told me that I reminded her of the "Old Obama." It's an honor to walk in the footsteps of President Obama. He's my role model. Maybe he'll put his Presidential Library at the Altgeld Gardens, Murray Homes.