How Chicago Became The Deadliest City In America

Things are pretty grim in Chicago following its deadliest summer in recent memory.

By Oct. 21, Chicago had recorded 435 murders, ahead of 339 in New York and 241 in Los Angeles. The Windy City has the highest murder rate of all Alpha world cities, according to NBC Chicago.

And while things are finally starting to slow down, the mood in the city definitely isn't great.

As an Illinois ex-pat living in New York and looking on at one of my favorite cities from afar, I have to wonder, how did we get here?

What Happened?

While most cities in America have become safer over the last decade, Chicago is the exception to the rule. In the early 2000s, Chicago demolished its inner city project housing, hoping to break up the gangs that ruled them, and scattered its residents throughout the city. While the towering buildings of the projects were certainly a horrific place to call home, and were ruled entirely by the gangs that lived there, they were actually serving as a kind of dysfunctional insulator for gang activity, shielding the majority of the city from the violence within.

After the projects were demolished, the residents that lived there were given Section 8 housing and relocated. Suddenly, hundreds of warring gang members were uprooted from their homes and placed in the middle of rival, unfamiliar territories. That's when the violence began.

In addition to poorly thought-out city planning, former Chicago gang members offer another explanation for the sudden uptick in gun violence: pride. In a VICE documentary on Chiraq an anonymous gang dropout says, "We weren't brought up to shoot people. We were decent with our hands." Another ex-gang member said, "Add in high unemployment levels, failing school districts, the closing of mental facilities, and the foreclosure crisis to the already volatile housing situation in Chicago, and you have a deadly recipe for complete and utter chaos."

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