Julia C. Lathrop Homes
Julia C. Lathrop Homes

Julia C. Lathrop Homes

Hood(s) North Center;

Clybourn Avenue and Wellington Avenue to Oakdale Avenue on the north, _Damen Ave and the Chicago River on the south, Clybourn Avenue to Damen Avenue on the east, Chicago River on the west

Lifecycle 1937 – 1937, Construction;
Controlling gangs Gangster Disciples; Black P Stones; Latin Kings; Insane Deuces;

The Julia C. Lathrop homes are the first project in the city of Chicago.  The projects were named after Julia C. Lathrop who was a social reformer who was the United States Children’s Bureau director from 1912 to 1922.

In 1937 the Chicago Housing Authority got together with a highly skilled team of architects to build this well made public housing complex of 925 units within 31 buildings of both 2 story row houses and 3 and 4 story apartment buildings, to house white and unemployed architects during the Great Depression years.  This was meant to be public housing for these people and their families until they could get back on their feet again.

When World War II broke out and after it ended these projects housed veterans that just returned from the war and needed a place to live until they could find work and get their own place to live.

In the 1950s white greaser gangs like the Blackhawk Hoyne Outlaws and the Barons developed in these projects in the 1950s to protect them from invading greaser gangs.  In the late 1960s African American and Puerto Rican families were now moving into these projects and many black and Puerto Rican youths joined up with the Junior Barons which was the younger group of Barons, there were also many members of the Young Lords living in these projects.

In the year 1970 a member of the Morgan Deuces street gang from Pilsen got together with the Junior Barons and created the “Insane Deuces” street gang that now controlled the projects and fought against nearby gangs like the Simon City Royals and Paulina Berry Community.  The Latin Kings arrived in these projects by the early 1970s and befriended the Insane Deuces and together they protected this mixed race project complex and they did not allow other gangs to develop in the complex until the 1990s when the two organizations went to war.

The Insane Deuces were known to sell large amounts of drugs in the projects in the 1980s, then after the Latin Kings became jealous, war erupted between the two gangs which allowed African American gangs to move into the complex like Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones; however, Latin Kings took over the projects.  Vicious gang wars happened in these projects especially in the 1990s; however, this project complex was still one of the safest projects comparatively to the other towers of death in other parts of the city.

These projects were always maintained and residents received repairs if needed.  These projects are also considered a landmark which makes them higher on a list of priorities for city renovations.  The neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and North Center are also higher income class neighborhoods which make the need to renovate these buildings important for the community because they did not want to deal with eyesores, not only that these neighborhoods produce higher tax dollars from higher income residents and businesses that makes higher CHA funding more justified.  Chicago police pay more attention to crime in these buildings because they do not want the rest of the higher class community to deal with crime; this has also led to the Lathrop Homes having their own security guards. These projects are also unique because this is the only public housing project that still has white residents and one of the few to house Latinos making this a mixed race complex.

In the year 2006 the majority of the projects were closed down and boarded up as CHA planned to level these but by 2007 that idea was shot down, now there has been ongoing plans again to level them and make them into mixed income apartments.