Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=143727
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Altgeld Gardens Google Map

Layton Ehmke and Justine Jablonska/MEDILL

An interactive Google map shows key points of reference in Altgeld Gardens, as well as the closest services to the neighborhood. Click on 'Related Links' to access the map.


The desert of Altgeld Gardens

by Layton Ehmke and Justine Jablonska
Oct 28, 2009


Altgeld Gardens RTA Graphic

Regional Transportation Authority

A trip mapped from Altgeld Gardens to the closest Chicago Public Library, West Pullman Branch. Click image for larger version.

The Altgeld Gardens Phillip Murray Homes community is boxed off from the rest of Chicago – a trapped 190-acre island between highways, trash heaps, pollution and industry.

It is the Far South Side – the end of the city.

While one CTA bus line is injected into the public housing development to take residents to and from the services they need, it is a neighborhood apart. While greater Chicago feels the pressures of a public housing shortage, much of Altgeld is boarded up and vacant. Of the approximate 1,500 barracks there, more than half are unoccupied as they sit waiting to be refurbished by the Chicago Housing Authority.

Chicago’s main sources and carriers of pollution encircle Altgeld Gardens. The polluted Calumet River blocks Altgeld to the east and south. To the immediate north is the Metro Water Reclamation District, a wastewater treatment facility. Beyond all that: a rolling landfill mountain range. Beneath the houses is more of Chicago’s trash, as Altgeld was built atop the landfill.

Host to much of Chicago’s heaviest industry, the area has seen the likes of steel, automotive, byproducts, slag, oil and – most of all – chemical companies.

This interactive map (accessible under Related Links) shows key points of reference in Altgeld Gardens, as well as the closest services to the neighborhood.