Clarence Darrow Homes
Clarence Darrow Homes

Clarence Darrow Homes

Hood(s) Oakland;

38th Street on the north, Pershing Road on the south, Evans Avenue on the east, Langley Avenue on the west

Lifecycle 1961 – 1961, Construction; 1996 – 2000, Demolition;
Controlling gangs Black P Stones; Gangster Disciples;

These projects were named after Clarence Darrow who was a lawyer who represented labor leader Eugene V. Debs during the Pullman Car Factory strike.  These projects were built as four 14 story high rise buildings that had 480 units between all four buildings, the construction was started and completed in 1961.  These projects were built right near the Ida B. Wells projects which were a rather successful project at this point in time which meant residents at the Clarence Darrow projects were satisfied as well in the earliest years, in fact, the Darrow projects were praised as being a very positive addition to this community as families were lined up to get in.

In the 1970s life in the Clarence Darrow projects began to change as gangs and drugs took over this complex and more so in the 1980s.  The projects eventually became deteriorated and full of transient drug addicts and transient gang members.  A big story came about in these dilapidated projects in 1994 when three boys were playing in one of the many vacant apartments and when 5 year old Eric Morse refused to steal candy from a store for two older boys aged 10 and 11 years old as they threw him out of the window to his death from the top 14th floor of one of the high rises.  The most disturbing thing about this case is that this was an ongoing conflict where the boys had told Eric Morse and Derrick Lemon to steal before this murder and the boys refused and told their mother and this caused the two older boys to target them and chase them until they finally caught them at the building at 3833 S. Langley Ave and proceeded to dangle to boy out of the window and drop him as his 8 year old older brother Derrick watched in horror as he was dropped from the window in apt 1405 (Chicago Tribune Susan Kuczka and Flynn, October 15, 1994).  This murder shocked the nation and brought attention to these housing projects that were the sight of vicious gang wars and drug problems.  The projects also had many vacant apartments that, despite being continuously resealed, were always infiltrated again and again by gang members hiding drugs and weapons.  In the summer of 1996 the first of four buildings 727 E. 38th St. was torn down then 3833 S. Langley Ave was torn down in 1997.  Between 1998 and the year 2000 706 E. 39th St and 730 E. 39th St. were torn down.