There are few Chicago neighborhoods that boast more history than Bronzeville, the famed South Side community that has been the foundation for the city's cultural heritage for a century. It was in the theaters and streets of Bronzeville where blues and jazz were nurtured, and in the churches that the gospel sound was developed.
Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about Bronzeville, as did Lorraine Hansberry in the seminal play, A Raisin in The Sun. During its heyday of the 1920s–40s, Bronzeville rivaled Harlem as the center of African American culture. A lot of the neighborhood's history has been preserved, allowing visitors to glimpse the past as well as the future in this fascinating neighborhood, so plan a trip to Bronzeville and let us help you plan your route.
A Walking Tour through Some of Bronzeville History
Start with a stop by the Monument to the Great Northern Migration, at the northern edge of Bronzeville on 26th and King Drive. The work commemorates the thousands of African Americans who migrated from the South into the area in search of a better life.
From there you can follow the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, which are plaques on sidewalks and medians along 35th Street that honor famous Bronzeville residents of the past, including Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open-heart surgery.
Stop by the Victory Monument, at 35th and King Drive. The bronze sculpture honors the African American Eighth Regiment during WWI.
Artistic Expression, Old and New
Next, browse the art galleries that Bronzeville is known for. Begin at the Southside Community Art Center (3831 S. Michigan Avenue), one of the oldest African American art centers in the country, dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941.
Take a break at Some Like It Black Creative Arts Bar (4259 S. Cottage Grove, pictured above) for a smoothie or some live jazz.
Take a Break and Fill Up on Creole, Soul or Senegalese Food
For a full-on dining experience, drop by Norman's Bistro (1101 E. 43rd Street) for creole food with a Brazilian twist, Pearl's Place (3901 S. Michigan Avenue) for authentic soul food or Yassa African Restaurant (3511 S. King Drive) for flavorful Senegalese food.
Monument to the Great Northern Migration photo credit Adam Alexander Photography.