Look at Five Lonely Houses on Chicago’s South and West Sides

Developers cleared the city’s land for big projects, but when the housing bubble burst, nothing was built. Now, homes stand alone in Chicago’s depopulated areas, as these haunting images from David Schalliol’s Isolated Building Studies show.

As the “The Latest Chicago Home Price Data” charts in our “Real Estate 2014” story show, while housing prices in Chicago are recovering from their seven-year postbubble decline, that recovery has been far from uniform. Nowhere is this more evident than in parts of the city’s South and West Sides. There, developers knocked down scores of buildings during the real-estate craze to make way for new ones, which never got built, and the city fast-tracked demolitions in depopulated neighborhoods. The result: houses and apartment buildings surrounded by vacant lots, eerie in their isolation.

They reminded David Schalliol of what he had seen growing up on the outskirts of Indianapolis. “I spent a lot of time biking and driving out to these little farmhouses that basically had been abandoned,” he says. “They’d been purchased by developers [to build subdivisions] and just left to sit there.”

A doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Chicago, Schalliol captured many of these dwellings on film. They appear in his book, Isolated Building Studies (Utakatado Publishing, $19), published in the United States in February. “I was trying to get a better sense of Chicago, engaging with Woodlawn, Bronzeville, and Washington Park,” Schalliol explains. “The series started out to me as a really potent symbol of what was happening to those communities.”

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