Bronzeville through the decades

Before & After

The Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago has a rich history– both as a mecca for former black sharecroppers during the Great Migration in the early 20th century, and also as a symbol of Chicago being an extraordinarily segregated city. As part of the research for our documentary film about the history of Bronzeville in Chicago, we unearthed plenty of historical photographs showing the neighborhood over the course of a century. To see before and afters of selected photographs, swipe from one side of each photo to the other.

State Street & 35th Street

The former site of Stateway Gardens, a public housing project, this corner was once within one of the six poorest US Census tracts in the country. Today the block is home to Illinois Institute of Technology, a Starbucks cafe, and new mixed income public housing development called Park Boulevard Apartments. Read more about Stateway Gardens at Wikipedia. This development, along with the other replacements of public housing, is part of the Chicago’s Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.

Ida B. Wells Area Kitchen

The Ida B. Wells Homes, located roughly in the center of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, replaced “slum housing” before the city’s efforts at urban renewal starting in 1939. Newly furnished kitchens in the new public housing attracted residents. As Valencia Hardy states, in our documentary “They were a good idea in the beginning because there were a lot of cold water flats and people lived in substandard housing. And the projects were good in the beginning.” However, decades later the public housing complexes in Bronzeville had largely fallen into disrepair resembling the derelict neighborhoods they had once sought to replace in the 1930s. Read more about the Wells Homes, named after suffragist and civil rights movement pioneer Ida B. Wells on Wikipedia.

Interactive Map

Explore a Map of Bronzeville

Click on a point of interest to view


Resources & Links

Community Organizations

Housing Bronzeville
The affordable homeownership advocacy organization spotlighted in our documentary Blueprint for Bronzeville

Harold Washington Cultural Center
Bronzeville’s cultural center

Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council
A local organization dedicated to preserving the neighborhood’s cultural heritage

Chicago Defender
One of the oldest African American newspapers in the country, located in Bronzeville

Bud Billiken Parade & Picnic
The official website of the annual back to school community parade in Bronzeville which attracts over a million attendees

Lugenia Burns Hope Center
Housing Bronzeville’s sponsoring parent organization, co-founded by Barack Obama and Dr. Sokoni Karanja in 1994

World Sport Chicago
The legacy organization of the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid

Wikitravel: Bronzeville
A page listing local attractions in the Bronzeville neighborhood