This investigation is the first in a series of projects that will document and explore public housing on the South Side. If you have tips or suggestions about coverage, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The wide boulevard where the Elam Home sits in Bronzeville has had many names, and the mansion, in place since 1903, has known all of them. The ornately carved windows—these days shuttered by gray boards—have peered out at over a century of history in an ever-changing city, watching as Grand Boulevard become South Park Way in 1923 and then Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in 1968. As the neighborhood became majority Jewish and then quickly became majority black; as the surrounding area earned a new moniker, Bronzeville, and a new reputation as a thriving black cultural center.
Abuilding’s design tells you a lot about who it’s for. The new faux-Parisian townhomes in Lincoln Park appeal to people who want to imitate the prestige and sophistication of a European capital. The large, bright windows of a traditional commercial storefront ask everyone in the neighborhood to come in and check out the merchandise.
The flood is a story about community building, of community won and community lost.
Ravyn Lenae’s demands for her audience were simple. In between the R&B singer’s spacey electro-soul verses, she would say: “Dance,” or, “Y’all can just close your eyes, okay?” She electrified the crowd—all from onstage while sitting down. Listeners mumbled “okay” in response, and started moving their bodies; people who had been sitting on the ground to just listen became active participants in the performance.
“If Dyett does not work, we view it as further disinvestment in the quality of life and the basic quality of life institutions of a particular population of people.”
“I think this does change the way that people think about racial segregation.”
“If we can inject food, quality food, into the area, then we’ll be able to feed people quality food, encourage people to come back [to Bronzeville], and bring jobs into the area as well.”
Millions of African-American migrants came to Chicago, and their descendants carry the pride of Bronzeville. There is no other place in the world like Bronzeville. Within a five-mile radius you can find historical sites of interest that chronicle the explosion of gospel, blues, jazz, abolitionism and grassroots civil rights activism. Bronzeville’s history spans from the late 1880s to present day as the most documented landscape of political, economic, art, and cultural influence. Blacks who lived in the early days of Bronzeville survived the 1919 Chicago race riots. The generations that followed withstood restrictive covenants, the dismantling of public housing, and the closing of more than forty schools. The tenacity of the families and stakeholders who call Bronzeville home is unmatched. In spite of every conceivable tactic to eradicate Bronzeville’s rich legacy and its people, Bronzeville lives on as the testament of what champions can do.”