Still, the projects persist. People get up and go to work. Some run gray-market “plate lunch” and beauty parlors out of their apartments. Disability and public-assistance checks keep coming. Why that is—why the projects were built here in such numbers and continue to house as many people as they do, how the developments moved from a source of municipal pride to an invisible society people would rather forget exists, is a key story of the city, as unique to New York as the Statue of Liberty and why people cross against traffic.