Altgeld Gardens was originally established as a federal housing project for World War II African American veterans on the South Side of Chicago. Labeled the 'toxic doughnut' Altgeld gardens had the highest concentration of hazardous waste sites in the nation. The community was surrounded by 50 landfills and 382 industrial facilities. It had 250 leaking underground storage tanks. Several toxicology studies conducted in Altgeld Gardens since the 1980s have revealed dangerous levels of mercury, lead, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and xylene. (Wenzel, L. (1998).
The level of conflict and mobilization peaked in the 1980s and 1990s but People for Community Recovery and other local residents continue to be very active in advocating for community environmental health.