Growing up I’ve often heard about Chicago’s rich history. As I have gotten older, I begin to notice some glaring omissions from the city’s mainstream narrative. Specifically in reference to the West and South Sides. 

I came across urban historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas via Twitter. Every so often he’d post a video about a minute or so long diving into a little known historical or cultural tidbit about our great city. When he began offering bus tours of Bronzeville, I knew I had to get a ticket. I’m so glad I did.

What struck me about Dilla when I met him with the rest of the group is that he’s remarkably Chicago. I’d been on a number of group tours downtown and along the river with bubbly guides (many of whom had not lived here very long), but this one was different. He looks like, speaks like, and acts like my Chicago. The people I grew up with. I hadn’t realized how necessary that was.

“Everything dope about America comes from Chicago,” he boasts. And with good cause. Over the next two hours we ride on a coach bus through Bronzeville as he stops to point out everything from architectural details (how the different color brick homes meant the clay was sourced from different regions) to notable residents of the past (Redd Fox and Harold Washington attended high school together).

There was so much packed into each of the 120 minutes of the ride, I came out with a completely different, and more endearing, perspective of a neighborhood I had already loved.

Chicago Mahogany Tours. For information about current tours, visit $45–50.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article! I was born in Chicago, but now reside in Wash, DC.

    I would love to take a Mahogany Bus Tour. I’m visiting Chicago in August.

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