In the spring of 1990, Gladys Woodson and her neighbors in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood started to notice dump trucks rolling down their streets—some sporting mismatched license plates and arriving as late as two or three a.m.
Woodson had lived in a historic greystone since 1970. She was president of her street’s block club, a tight-knit community of neighbors who looked out for each other. So other residents would come to her with questions and concerns.
When the trucks were first brought to her attention, Woodson says she didn’t give them much thought.
“I just thought, ‘Well, somebody’s just parking their trucks in there,’” said Woodson, “’til a guy said, ‘Ms. Woodson, come down, look at this. Do you know that somebody’s over there dumping in that lot?’”
When the dump eventually reached its peak, it sprawled across a lot the size of 13 football fields — or, about half the size of the Pentagon. It towered six stories above the neighborhood, creating a habitat for rats and crime, and filling the air with noxious dust.
But it wasn’t just trucks going in and out of this lot. There was also a limo, and the guy inside it —a heavy-set man who liked to wear colorful sweaters.
“Any time you see anybody drive over in a vacant lot in a limo,” Woodson told USA TODAY, “you know it’s no good.”
A Chicago story
Before the dump trucks came, before the lawsuits and the secret FBI tapes, before the arrests and the president’s executive order, before “the mountain” appeared and then disappeared— along with the guy who put it there – there was then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Sworn into office April 24, 1989, Daley vowed to bring his city roaring back. In the 40 years leading up to his inauguration, Chicago lost nearly a million people and hundreds of thousands of jobs. The new mayor wanted to stem that tide.
He began a major push to revamp Chicago’s aging downtown, paying special attention to tourist-friendly destinations like Navy Pier and the now-iconic Millennium Park, with its big silver bean sculpture and Frank Gehry-designed amphitheater. He also set about rebuilding crucial parts of the city’s infrastructure, including roads and highways. READ THE FULL STORY:https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2018/09/24/city-new-podcast-usa-today/1403927002/