The Visitor

Air date: 
Friday, April 19, 2002
Part of a series, Stories of Home, this piece was produced by Alex along with Amy Drozdowska. The series won a George Foster Peabody Award. It aired on WBEZ.

When, in 1991, a tenant’s group at the Henry Horner Homes hired Don Kimball, Kimball figured it was just another job. Kimball was a forensics engineer; he inspects and repairs faulty construction. Which is why the Horner residents needed him. The residents were filing a lawsuit against the Chicago Housing Authority over conditions in the complex and they needed Kimball to put together a report. So Kimball, a nattily dressed, silver-haired Bedrock republican, ventured into the Henry Horner Homes. What he saw there changed him forever.


Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart.

Separated by a river, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor are two Michigan towns that are geographically close, yet worlds apart. St. Joseph is a prosperous, predominately white lakeshore community while Benton Harbor is impoverished and predominately black. When the body of Eric McGinnis, a black teenage boy from Benton Harbor, is found in the river that separates the towns, relations between the two communities grow increasingly strained as longheld misperceptions and attitudes surface. 

There Are No Children Here chronicles two years in the lives of two boys, Lafeyette and Pharoah, struggling to survive in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complex disfigured by crime and neglect. 

© 2018, Alex Kotlowitz. All rights reserved