A remarkable work of journalistic and literary merit, High-Risers braids personal narratives, city politics, and national history to tell the timely and epic story of Chicago's Cabrini-Green, America's most iconic public housing project.
Built in the 1940s atop an infamous Italian slum, Cabrini-Green grew to twenty-three towers and a population of twenty-thousand--all of it packed onto just seventy acres situated a few blocks from Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast. Cabrini-Green became synonymous with crime, squalor, and the failure of government. For the many who lived there, though, it was also a much-needed resource--it was home. By 2011, every high-rise had been razed, the island of black poverty engulfed by the white affluence around it, and the families dispersed.
In this novelistic and eye-opening narrative, Ben Austen tells the story of America's public housing experiment and the changing fortunes of American cities. It is an account told affectingly through the lives of residents who struggled to make a home for their families as powerful forces converged to accelerate the complex's demise. Beautifully written, rich in detail, and full of indelible portraits, High-Risers is a sweeping exploration of race, class, popular culture, and politics in modern America that brilliantly considers what went wrong in our nation's effort to provide affordable housing to the poor--and what we can learn from those mistakes.
Ben Austen has written for many publications, including Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and New York magazine. He lives in Chicago.
Alex Kotlowitz is the author of the national bestseller There Are No Children Here, which the New York Public Library selected as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. His second book, The Other Side of the River, was awarded the Heartland Prize for Non-Fiction. For his documentary film, The Interrupters, he received an Emmy and a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. Kotlowitz's work, which has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and on public radio's This American Life, has been honored with two Peabody awards, two duPont-Columbia University awards, and a George Polk Award. He is a writer in residence at Northwestern University. Kotlowitz lives with his wife, Maria Woltjen, and their two children, Mattie and Lucas, in Oak Park.