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Good Times in Housing Projects and Real Life

It’s always a reminder to me, every time I view the opening credits on the TV series “Good Times,” that many of the housing developments shown in it are gone. Cabrini Green, the famous housing project in Cabrini Green, was torn down by 2011. Evans’ family lived in one these buildings. The housing they lived was not called their name. Chicagoans who grew-up in Chicago know exactly where they are. On Altura EC floor plan you can learn more.

My family lived in projects too when I was a small girl. Cabrini Green used to be on the far north. Rockwell Gardens had the west side where we lived. Both of these buildings were demolished early in this century. The Evans family had a similar apartment to ours, though it was less spacious than our front room. The space was small with only 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen and very few closets. Although it wasn’t quite big enough for a mom of three, single and divorced, the space was adequate.

My family had already moved away from these areas long before the premiere of Good Times on CBS. Yet, our memories remain of the day-to-day activities there. Many of the issues surrounding vandalized washers or dryers in laundry rooms and broken elevators as well as gang wars that led to people fleeing their apartments were real. Some of the things reported on the series didn’t always correspond with reality.

Unusual aspect about the show was how anyone could enter the Evans house, be it family or neighbor Wilona, without needing to call. Although it’s common on television, I find this a very familiar trope. It happens because characters often open their doors to guests, especially when they have a good relationship with the person. Merely because I lived there, most people would say that they locked their doors at all times. To leave the doors open would have meant hanging signs that stated, “Please come inside and take all you like.” It was impossible.