When Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago's most notorious housing projects, he was looking for people to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty. A first-year grad student hoping to impress his professors with his boldness, he never imagined that as a result of the assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade inside the projects under JT's protection, documenting what he saw there.
I first read this in Freakanomics, basically he infiltrates the gang during a study for graduate school and shows why the bottom level drug dealers still live with their moms. A real life study of risk and return.
Deep in the heart of Philadelphia, past row houses and vacant lots, run-down playgrounds and dilapidated schools, is a little place called Fletcher Street. It has everything one would expect to find down an alley in the ghetto, with one addition: horses. The men and boys of Fletcher Street have used their passion for riding and bonds with their rides to build their and their community’s sense of worth. They describe their passion for horses as having kept them from the temptations of street life. Fletcher Street by Martha Camarillo documents the lives of these men and the boys they mentor, who board their horses in abandoned houses or makeshift stables, and ride them through the streets of Philly.
This is a more recent update of what happened on Fletcher St. just last year. The bulldozers knocked down the building on Fletcher Street piece by piece. All that's left is a pile of rubble. About 95 percent of the property was condemned.