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Sun, 07.30.1939

The ‘Ida B. Wells Homes’ Are Built

*On this date in 1939, The Ida B. Wells Homes are celebrated.  It was a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing project. It was located in the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood of the city.  

Named for Black journalist and newspaper editor Ida B. Wells, 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. 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.  It had more than 860 apartments and almost 800 row houses and garden apartments 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. In 1961, the Clarence Darrow Homes were built adjacent to the Ida B. Wells Homes and in 1970, the last of the Chicago Housing Authority's high-rise projects, the Madden Park Homes, were built east of the Wells. The "three huge, contiguous projects" lined the northern edge of the Oakland community area. It was bordered by 35th Street to the north, Pershing Road (39th Street) to the south, Cottage Grove Avenue to the east, and Martin Luther King Drive to the west. The Ida B. Wells Homes consisted of row houses, mid-rises, and high-rise apartment buildings, constructed to house African American tenants. They were demolished beginning in 2002 and ending in 2011.  

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