Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes is the largest public housing development in the world. The Robert Taylor Homes consist of 28 sixteen-story apartment buildings. Most of the complex is an urban desert- concrete and asphalt cover the spaces between the buildings- but there are pockets of trees here and there. In 2001, Frances Kuo and Bill Sullivan of the University of Illinois Human-Environment Research Laboratory studied how well the residents of Robert Taylor were doing in their daily lives based on the amount of contact they had with these trees.
There were dramatically fewer occurrences of crime against both people and property in apartment buildings surrounded by trees and greenery than in nearby identical apartments that were surrounded by barren land. In fact, compared with buildings that had little or no vegetation, buildings with high levels of greenery had 48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes. Even modest amounts of greenery were associated with lower crime rates. The greener the surroundings, the fewer the number of crimes that occurred.