Interpretive Resource

04. Diversey Housing Project (later, Julia Lathrop Homes), Elston, Damen, and Diversey Avenues, Chicago, IL, c.1938.

04. Diversey Housing Project (later, Julia Lathrop Homes), Elston, Damen, and Diversey Avenues, Chicago, IL, c.1938.

As unemployment spread across the U.S. in the early 1930s, housing deteriorated and slums multiplied. Exacerbating this trend was the almost complete cessation in new home construction; at its nadir in 1933, only 137 new units were built in Chicago, compared to 42,637 in 1927. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 authorized the creation of an emergency Administration of Public Works (PWA) whose head, Winnetka resident Harold Ickes, created a Housing Division in June 1933. One of the principle objectives of the PWA's Housing Division was "to deal with the unemployment situation by giving employment to workers, especially those in the building and heavy-industry trades." The PWA finished construction on its first demonstration projects in Chicago at the end of 1938, including the Addams, Trumbull Park, and Lathrop Homes.

"Chicago Looks Ahead: 100 Years of Planning, 1909-2009," Case 3, Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, September 29–December 1, 2010
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Robert Seeley DeGolyer

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