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Douglas, Chicago

Coordinates: 41°50′05″N 87°37′05″W / 41.83472°N 87.61806°W / 41.83472; -87.61806
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Community Area 35 - Douglas
Prairie Shores in Bronzeville
Prairie Shores in Bronzeville
Location within the city of Chicago
Location within the city of Chicago
Coordinates: 41°50′05″N 87°37′05″W / 41.83472°N 87.61806°W / 41.83472; -87.61806[1]
CountryUnited States
 • Total1.67 sq mi (4.33 km2)
Elevation597 ft (182 m)
 • Total20,291
 • Density12,000/sq mi (4,700/km2)
Demographics 2020[2]
 • White10.6%
 • Black65.1%
 • Hispanic5.4%
 • Asian14.6%
 • Other4.4%
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
parts of 60609, 60616 and 60653
Median household income 2020[2]$35,796
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

Douglas, on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, is one of Chicago's 77 community areas. The neighborhood is named for Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois politician and Abraham Lincoln's political foe, whose estate included a tract of land given to the federal government.[3] This tract later was developed for use as the Civil War Union training and prison camp, Camp Douglas, located in what is now the eastern portion of the Douglas neighborhood. Douglas gave that part of his estate at Cottage Grove and 35th to the Old University of Chicago.[4] The Chicago 2016 Olympic bid planned for the Olympic Village to be constructed on a 37-acre (15 ha) truck parking lot, south of McCormick Place, that is mostly in the Douglas community area and partly in the Near South Side.[5]

The Douglas community area stretches from 26th Street, south to Pershing Road along the Lake Shore, including parts of the Green Line, along State Street and the Metra Electric and Amtrak passenger railroad tracks, which run parallel to Lake Shore Drive. Burnham Park runs along its shoreline, containing 31st Street Beach. The community area also contains part of the neighborhood of Bronzeville, the historic center of black culture in the city, since the early 20th century and the Great Migration.



Bronzeville is the area comprising the Douglas, Grand Boulevard, and Oakland communities on the South Side of Chicago, around the Illinois Institute of Technology, VanderCook College of Music, and Illinois College of Optometry. It is accessible via the Green and Red lines of the Chicago Transit Authority, as well as the Metra Electric District Main Line. In 2011, a new Metra station, Jones/Bronzeville Station, opened to serve the neighborhood on the Rock Island and planned SouthEast Service.

Bronzeville is located in Chicago's 3rd ward, currently represented by Alderman Pat Dowell.[6]

In the early 20th century, Bronzeville was known as the "Black Metropolis", one of the nation's most significant concentrations of African-American businesses, and culture. The groundbreaking Pekin Theatre rose near 27th street in the first decade of the 20th century.

Between 1910 and 1920, during an early peak of the "Great Migration", the population of the area increased dramatically when thousands of black Americans escaped the de jure segregation and prejudice rife in the U.S.South and migrated to Chicago in search of industrial jobs. The Wabash YMCA is considered the first black Y in the U.S.[7] It remains active today due to ongoing support from nearby black churches.[8] The Wabash YMCA's work to commemorate black culture was the genesis of Black History Month.[9]

In 1922, Louis B. Anderson, a Chicago alderman, had the architects Michaelsen & Rognstad build him a house at 3800 South Calumet Avenue. The surrounding area would take on the name of this house (which he had named Bronzeville).[10]

Key figures in the area include: Andrew "Rube" Foster, founder of the Negro National Baseball League; Ida B. Wells, a civil rights activist, journalist and co-organizer of the NAACP; Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, artist, author, and one of the co-founders of the DuSable Museum of African American History; Bessie Coleman, the first black woman pilot; Gwendolyn Brooks, poet laureate and first black American awarded the Pulitzer Prize, as well as, other acclaimed authors and artists of the Chicago Black Renaissance; actresses Susie Garrett, Marla Gibbs and Jennifer Beals; acclaimed R&B singers Minnie Riperton, Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls; and cornet player and jazz bandleader King Oliver. His protégé, jazz musician, trumpeter and bandleader Louis Armstrong from New Orleans and his wife Lil Hardin Armstrong, who was a pianist, composer and bandleader, lived in Bronzeville on E. 44th Street and performed at many of the area's night clubs, including the Sunset Cafe and Dreamland Cafe. The neighborhood includes the Chicago Landmark Black Metropolis-Bronzeville District.[11]

External videos
video icon The 77: A City of Neighborhoods - Bronzeville, Choose Chicago

47th Street was and remains the hub of the Bronzeville neighborhood. In the early 21st century, it has started to regain some of its former glory. Gone for good is the Regal Theater (demolished in 1973), where many great performers took the stage. The Forum Hall building was built in 1897 designed by Chicago architect Samuel Atwater Treat (1839-1910) and may contain the oldest hardwood ballroom dance floor in Chicago. It filled a significant role in Bronzeville's cultural scene, being the venue for famous musicians From the 1940s and 1960s, high-rise public housing projects were constructed in the area, which were managed by the Chicago Housing Authority. The largest complex was the Robert Taylor Homes. They developed severe social problems exacerbated by concentrated poverty among the residents and poor design of the buildings. This project was demolished in the late 1990s and early 21st century. The nickname "Bronzeville" was first used for the area in 1930 by James J. Gentry, a local theater editor for the Chicago Bee publication. It refers to the brown skin color of black Americans, who predominated as residents in that area. It has become common usage over decades.[12]

The Bronzeville community features in various literary works set in Chicago, including Richard Wright's Native Son, Gwendolyn Brooks' A Street in Bronzeville, Lorraine Hansberry's stage play A Raisin the Sun, Leon Forrest's There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden [The Bloodworth Trilogy], Bayo Ojikutu's crime novel 47th Street Black, and Sara Paretsky's detective mystery Blacklist, part of the V. I. Warshawski series.

Historical images of Bronzeville are in Explore Chicago Collections, a digital repository made available by Chicago Collections archives, libraries and other cultural institutions in the city.[13]

Prairie Shores[edit]

Originally a five-building, 1677-unit public housing project erected in 1962 by Michael Reese Hospital, Prairie Shores has been adapted as a market rate, middle-class community. Along with the adjacent Lake Meadows development, this was part of the city's largest urban renewal project at the time of its inception in 1946. The total project included construction of the Illinois Institute of Technology and Mercy Hospital. The development was funded under the Title I of the Housing Act of 1949, using US$6.2 million ($62.5 million today) of subsidies.[14]

Groveland Park[edit]

Of all the sections of Douglas originally developed by Stephen A. Douglas, only Groveland Park survives. Its homes are built around an oval-shaped park. Groveland Park is located between Cottage Grove Avenue, 33rd Street, 35th Street and the Metra Electric railroad tracks.


The Douglas community area has supported the Democratic Party in the past two presidential elections. In the 2016 presidential election, the Douglas cast 6,342 votes for Hillary Clinton and cast 187 votes for Donald Trump (97.13% to 2.80%).[15] In the 2012 presidential election, Douglas cast 8,206 votes for Barack Obama and cast 158 votes for Mitt Romney (98.11% to 1.88%).[16]


The Metra Electric District has a stop at East 27th Street.[17]


Historical population


Several buildings on the Illinois Institute of Technology main campus, such as Machinery Hall pictured here, have been designated as Chicago Landmarks and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The following Chicago Public Schools campuses serve Bronzeville: Beethoven Elementary School, Phillips Academy High School, Dunbar Vocational High School, Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, Chicago Military Academy, and Walter H. Dyett High School. Notable private schools include De La Salle High School and Hales Franciscan High School.

Young Women's Leadership Charter School, a charter school, is in the community area.[19]

Bronzeville is also home to the renowned Illinois Institute of Technology, which is famous for its engineering and architecture programs. It is home to the VanderCook College of Music and the Illinois College of Optometry. In 2006 the liberal arts school Shimer College, based on the Great Books, moved into the neighborhood.

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Douglas". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. May 15, 1997.
  2. ^ a b c d "Community Data Snapshot - Douglas" (PDF). cmap.illinois.gov. MetroPulse. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  3. ^ Callary, Edward (September 29, 2008). Place Names of Illinois. University of Illinois Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-252-09070-7.
  4. ^ "Old University of Chicago". 2005.
  5. ^ Hinz, Greg (September 23, 2006). "Plan for 2016 Olympics disclosed". Crain Communications, Inc. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
  6. ^ "New homes are transforming this historic neighborhood". Crain's Chicago Business. January 13, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  7. ^ "Wilton YMCA", Official Website
  8. ^ "History - The Renaissance Collaborative". www.trcwabash.org. Archived from the original on August 31, 2013.
  9. ^ University of Chicago collections
  10. ^ "Landmark Designation Report - Giles-Calumet District" (PDF). chicago.gov. City of Chicago. July 10, 2008. p. 2. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  11. ^ "Black Metropolis-Bronzeville District". City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division. 2003. Archived from the original on May 2, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
  12. ^ "Bronzeville Stories". Archived from the original on March 13, 2005.
  13. ^ Long, Elizabeth. "A Single Portal to Chicago's History". The University of Chicago News. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  14. ^ Garvin, Alexander (2002). The American Dity: What Works, What Doesn't. McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 167. ISBN 0-07-137367-5. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  15. ^ Ali, Tanveer (November 9, 2016). "How Every Chicago Neighborhood Voted In The 2016 Presidential Election". DNAInfo. Archived from the original on September 24, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  16. ^ Ali, Tanveer (November 9, 2012). "How Every Chicago Neighborhood Voted In The 2012 Presidential Election". DNAInfo. Archived from the original on February 3, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Lane, Laura (January 19, 2014). "Map: South Shore Line, Metra Electric Line". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  18. ^ Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Archived from the original on March 18, 2013.
  19. ^ "Contact YWLCS Archived 2010-03-01 at the Wayback Machine." Young Women's Leadership Charter School. Retrieved on December 22, 2016. "YWLCS, 2641 S. Calumet Ave., Chicago, IL 60616."
  20. ^ a b "NHL nomination for Ida B. Wells-Barnett House". National Park Service. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  21. ^ Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00923; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 103-90 via HeritageQuest
  22. ^ "R. Kelly Arrested In Chicago | Music News". Rolling Stone. April 9, 1998. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  23. ^ Lupica, Mike (March 22, 1980). "This year's Bird or Magic will hit court shortly". Daily News. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  24. ^ Illinois Blue Book 1935-1936 page 115
  25. ^ Staff (November 2, 2017). "Brace Yourself: Chicago's 'Hawk' Winter Wind Turns 50". DNAinfo. Archived from the original on April 19, 2020. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  26. ^ Gilmore, Lesley; Germann, Suzanne (May 1, 2000). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Martin Roche-John Tait House" (PDF). Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  27. ^ Kerber, Conrad; Kerber, Terry (2014). Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 9781629140216.
  28. ^ "Wabash Avenue YMCA". City of Chicago. September 9, 1998. Archived from the original on August 30, 2000.
  29. ^ Reich, Howard (March 14, 2018). "Back Alley Jazz Revives a Chicago Tradition". Newspapers.com. Chicago Tribune. pp. 4–2. Retrieved February 13, 2022.

External links[edit]