A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the National Public Housing Museum at 1322 W Taylor Street in the Near West Side. Located on the corner with W Taylor Street near the SOM-designed Little Italy public library and the upcoming Chicago Fire FC facility, the project is part of the larger Roosevelt Square Plan hoping to bridge the Taylor Street corridor. Developers Related Midwest and the Chicago Housing Authority are working with local firms HED Architects and Landon Bone Baker Architects on the one-of-a-kind institution.
The museum will be contained within two-thirds of the only remaining building of the once sprawling Jane Addams Homes, who’s demolition left a large swath of empty land in the area as well as displaced many of its residents. The structure opened in 1938 as the first federal government housing project in Chicago as part of the Public Works Administration Act before closing in 2002. Now after nearly 15 years of planning, the facility will be moving forward and include three commercial spaces as well as 15 residential units.
The museum hopes to tell the story of public housing not only in Chicago but nationally, while also creating a dialogue on its importance, conditions, and how issues prevail. Inside will be three restored apartments with artifacts portraying the life of various families during different eras of public housing. These will be joined by a gallery displaying everyday objects collected across the US and their stories, an oral history archive, and a music room curated by DJ Spinderella according to Block Club. Other support spaces along with room for temporary exhibits will be included.
Although the site will include 37 vehicle parking spaces shared with residents, visitors can easily access the museum via CTA bus Routes 12, 60, and 157 within a five-minute walk, as well as the CTA Blue Line at Racine station via a 13-minute walk. To make it a reality, the facility received $14.5 million in funding from various public sources with the groundbreaking being attended by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, board members, among others. With work underway, the museum hopes to welcome its first visitors by the end of next year.