History in Bronzeville

300 East 47th Street

The Blues Brothers - Ray's Music Exchange

Ray Charles played "Shake A Tailfeather" at "Ray's Music Exchange," or what is actually Shelly's Loan and Jewelry at 300 East 47th Street in Bronzeville Chicago.  You can still see the mural, which took one month to paint, featuring Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Ray Charles on the side of the store.  The scene cost $600,000 to produce, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

History in Bronzeville

39th Street and Wentworth Avenue

Andrew "Rube" Foster

Baseball player and owner Andrew "Rube" Foster organized the first black baseball league, the Negro National League, in 1920.  He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981 as the first negro league representative.  Foster lived near 39th Street and Wentworth Avenue in Bronzeville Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribute project.  

41st Street and King Drive

Bessie Coleman: The First African-American Female Pilot

When Bessie Coleman graduated from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in France, she became the first licensed African-American aviatrix (female aviator) in the world.  Since she could not work as a commercial pilot in the United States, she performed in stunt-flying shows all across the country.  On April 30, 1926, she was killed during a practice run at an airshow in Jacksonville, Florida.  Coleman was inducted into the Women In Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995.

Read more
4300 South Michigan Avenue

Daniel H. Burnham

Daniel Burnham developed urban plans for the cities of Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. and chaired the 1893 world's fair (otherwise known as the Columbian Exposition).  His famous "Plan of Chicago" featured such ideas as the lakefront park system, the straightening of the Chicago River, and the northerly extension of Michigan Avenue.  Burnham lived with his family at 4300 South Michigan Avenue.  He famously said: "Make no little plans.

Read more
445 East 42nd Street

Daniel Hale Williams

Also known as "Dr. Dan," Daniel Hale Williams was an African-American doctor credited for performing the first successful open-heart surgery.  Dr. Williams founded Provident Hospital, the first hospital in America established and fully controlled by African-Americans.  It opened in 1891.  Williams practiced medicine at 445 East 42nd Street from 1905 to 1929.

3624 South King Drive

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.  She moved to Chicago in 1895 and lived at 3624 South King Drive with her family from 1919 to 1930.  Her home is both a Chicago landmark and national landmark.

421 East 44th Street

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

Trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong was perhaps the single most important jazz musician in the 20th century.  He came to Chicago during the heyday of jazz music in the 1920s to join his mentor, Joe ("King") Oliver.  He performed frequently at clubs in and near the famed "State Street Stroll" in the heart of Bronzeville.  During his storied career, Armstrong performed with Bing Crosby, Dizzy Gillepsie, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald.  

Read more
3806 South Michigan Avenue

Margaret Burroughs

Art historian and teacher Dr. Margaret Burroughs founded the DuSable Museum of African-American history with her husband, Charles, in 1961 in the ground floor of their home at 3806 South Michigan Avenue.  When she was 22 years old, Burroughs founded the South Side Community Arts Center.  In 1977, the Chicago Defender named her one of Chicago's most influential women.

4023 South Vincennes Avenue

Nat "King" Cole

Nat "King" Cole was a legendary vocalist and pianist.  He is regarded as one of the most influential musical personalities in American history.  His family moved to Chicago when he was four, and he attended Wendell Phillips Academy.  He showcased his piano skills at the savoy ballroom and the Regal Theater while living at 4023 South Vincennes Avenue.

4536 South King Drive

Oscar DePriest

Oscar DePriest was Chicago's first African-American alderman and the first African-American congressman elected in the 20th Century.  He was elected alderman of the 2nd Ward in 1915, and he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1928.  Following his service in the Nation's Capitol, he served as alderman again from 1943 to 1947.  He resided at 4536 South King Drive in Bronzeville.

3631 South Prairie Avenue

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones is all things music.  He produces, composes, and conducts and has netted 27 Grammy Awards from 79 nominations spanning a vast array of musical styles.  In 1982, he produced the "Thriller" LP for Michael Jackson, which subsequently became the best-selling album in American history.  Jones was born in Chicago and lived at 3631 South Prairie Avenue until he was 10 years old.

3742 south indiana avenue

Richard Wright

Novelist Richard Wright lived in Chicago for a decade and drew from his surroundings to write one of his most famous works, Native Son.  He resided at many south side addresses, but 3742 south indiana avenue was his last known Chicago address, at the "La Veta" apartment building.

4742 South King Drive

Robert S. Abbott

Robert S. Abbott founded the Chicago Defender in 1905.  It was one of the most widely read African-American publications in the country.  According to the Chicago Tribute Project, Abbott is "widely regarded as the greatest single force in African-American journalism."  The Defender's success made him one of the country's first African-American millionaires.  

Read more
3527 South Cottage Grove

Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke was a pioneer of soul, r&b, pop, and gospel music.

Read more
3763 South Wabash Avenue

Sonny Rollins

In 1955, Sonny Rollins was invited to replace Harold Land in the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet.  Within a year, he definitively established himself as a tour de force of the tenor saxophone and a master of the hard bop idiom.  He is arguably the greatest tenor saxophonist in jazz history.  The albums he recorded between 1955 and 1959 are among the most expressive and exhilarating examples of the art. 

Read more
35th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue

Stephen Douglas

Stephen A. Douglas, who hailed from the great State of Illinois, served in the United States Congress as both a senator and a representative and was selected as the Democratic Party's nominee for the Presidency in 1860.  He was an architect of the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act and may best be remembered for his highly publicized debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858, when the two politicians battled each other for a seat in the United States Senate.  

Read more
4512 South King Drive

The Marx Brothers

When the legendary Marx Brothers comedians came to Chicago on the vaudeville circuit in the 1910s, they resided at 4512 South King Drive. Their improvised comedy act was zany, sharp, and often satirical.  After Chicago, the group quickly moved on to Broadway and then to hollywood, where they gained international fame.

4801 South Michigan Avenue

Vivian Harsh

Vivian Harsh, who resided at 4801 South Michigan Avenue, was the Chicago Public Library system's first african-american librarian and began collecting literature for a special African-American section, which still exists today as the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature at the Woodson Regional Library.  Harsh also started a lecture series featuring Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, and Langston Hughes.

History in Bronzeville

2537 South Prairie Avenue

Mercy Hospital

In 1852, Mercy Hospital became the first hospital built in the State of Illinois at 2537 South Prairie Avenue.  In 1859, it became the first Catholic hospital to affiliate with a medical school, namely, the Lind University Medical School, which was later renamed Chicago Medical College and which ultimately became Northwestern University Medical School.  Lind University Medical School was the first such school in the United States to use a graded curriculum. 

Read more
3527 South Cottage Grove Avenue

Sam Cooke Family Home in Chicago

Sam Cooke was one of the country's first soul and r&b singers.  He had 29 top-40 hits in the United States between 1957 and 1964, including "Twistin' the Night Away," "You Send Me," "Another Saturday Night," "Chain Gang," and "What a Wonderful World." Cooke's family moved to the fourth floor of the Lenox Building at 3527 South Cottage Grove Avenue after briefly living at 33rd and State streets.  

Read more
Pershing Road and State Street

The First El Train

On the morning of June 6, 1892, the very first el train departed from the 39th Street Station (at this intersection of Pershing Road and State Street) and headed off to Congress Avenue (with stops along the way), completing the trip in fourteen minutes, or twice as fast as the same journey by cable car. The maiden voyage included 27 men and three women spread among four "coach cars." Tickets were sold by live human beings and deposited by commuters inside wooden boxes.

Read more
29th Street Beach

The Race Riots of 1919

On July 27, 1919, an African-American man named Eugene Williams was swimming a bit too close to the unofficially segregated white people’s beach at 29th Street Beach and was struck in the head by a stone.  Williams panicked and drowned.  A five-day race riot ensued, during which dozens of people died, hundreds more were injured, and perhaps a thousand were left homeless. 

Read more
520 East 47th Street

Where Sonny Rollins Lived in Chicago

In early 1955, Sonny Rollins, on the verge of blossoming into one of the greatest tenor saxophone players in the history of jazz music, checked out of a federal narcotics hospital that functioned as a drug rehabilitation clinic in Lexington, Kentucky, and moved to Chicago in order to avoid the temptations that would greet him if he returned to New York City. 

Read more