NPR Mapped Chicago Public Housing Article

National Public Radio nailed an online slideshow to represent the deconstruction of Chicago’s public housing projects. What did reporters use to place the story into context: a map.

Photo credit by NPR. Aerial map (U.S. Geological Survey).
Photo credit by NPR. Aerial map (U.S. Geological Survey).

Chicago’s poor first lived in privately-owned, dilapidated tenements until city hall attempted to improve those conditions. In the late 1940s through the early 1960s, Chicago built thousands of public housing units in modern high-rise apartment buildings, encouraging racially integrated developments in the working-class neighborhoods.

However, many of the city’s plans were concentrated in poor, black neighborhoods.

The original proposal of affordable housing for the working class was disregarded and, for the next 20 years, the Chicago Housing Authority demolished dozens of high-rise buildings, relocating thousands of families.

Reporters mapped an aerial perspective of the city’s “invisible” borders, as NPR called it. The map depicts the poor, black neighborhoods boxed in by expressways segmenting the city and often races.

Along with photos taken by a urban photographer, Evans, who was personally involved in the stories development, the slideshow shows how reporters can use visuals to create an interactive medium to tell a story.



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