Dearborn Park, the South Loop’s blight and savior

According to Lois Wille’s “At Home in the Loop” account:

“This is Dearborn Park, one of the most successful urban renewal efforts in the country, home to a multiracial, multi-ethnic community of 3,500. Its residents talk as if they’ve discovered a secret village, their own private sanctuary that gives them special entrée to what is good and exhilarating about live in a big city, while shielding them from its dangers and disorders.”

As you’ll see in the video, the shield designed to keep the city’s dangers away from Dearborn Park I was a wall of brick and wrought iron that’s become a permanent blight on the State Street streetscape. Dearborn Park II, with the exception of the single-family homes built by MCL Companies at its northern end, also ignored the lessons about building safe spaces taught by Jane Jacobs and Oscar Newman.

Travel back in time, and ask whether the market would have reacted as positively to a community that wasn’t walled off from the devastation surrounding it. Could Dearborn Park have been the South Loop’s savior without also blighting it?

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