Been to Chicago’s Bronzeville Neighborhood?

Off the beaten path but still close to downtown, Bronzeville is a great place to learn more about our city. The four Chicago Community Areas of Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Douglas, and Oakland comprise Bronzeville, which is historically known as the “Black Metropolis.” It served as the northern hub for the “Great Migration” of African Americans who fled the south to find industrial jobs in the north. Obelisks around the neighborhood explain it’s rich history as a center of black culture, and many argue that the developments in the ‘20s and ‘30s in this area rivaled that of Black Harlem. We’re always very proud to take guests to Bronzeville on the Jazz, Blues, and Beyond Bus Tour.

Public Art in Bronzeville

The first time I visited Bronzeville, I was with an urban planning class at Depaul. We were all very enthusiastic to see a part of our city that was so close to home, yet felt so far from the North Side neighborhoods most of us live in.  When we entered Bronzeville, we were immediately greeted by what the locals call the “Soul Man.” Its actual name is “Monument to the Great Northern Migration”, but its informal name is due more to the material of the sculpture than its meaning. Artist Alison Saar made the statue to look as if he is wearing a suit made from shoe soles, representing the difficult journey of the many citizens who moved north.

Much of the public art of Bronzeville is supported by local civic or governmental efforts, such as Little Black Pearl. The Little Black Pearl is non-profit arts organization striving to share their love of art and creativity with the children and youth of Bronzeville. Their facilities at 1060 East 47th Street include studio spaces, a gallery and a retail store where you can buy art from the children that participate in their programs.  The building is a surprisingly awesome piece of architecture, too.

Culture and Food

On our class trip we also stopped by the Bronzeville Visitor Information Center where the manager, Harold Lucas, can tell you everything you ever wanted to know and more about the place he calls home. The second floor of the building features a permanent art installation, “Bronzeville to Harlem.” This work depicts both communities in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Their gift shop and thrift store on the first floor sells everything from books on Bronzeville to jewelry and records. The revenue the store creates goes directly to stimulating community involvement and enrichment.

After you’ve explored Bronzeville, you might just realize you’re a bit hungry. If so, look no further than Chi Bakery at 2132 South Michigan Avenue. If you’ve been on our Jazz, Blues & Beyond bus tour, then you know just how beautiful and delicious the cookies are! With a soft texture more like cupcakes than cookies, they come in a few different flavors, but you can’t go wrong with the red velvet. They have fantastic sandwiches, too. For soul food, like smothered chicken and greens, try Mama Lou’s Comfort Kitchen on 35th, or Le Fleur De Lis on 43rd for Creole cooking. And while I wouldn’t exactly recommend McDonald’s, the one on 35th and Indiana has a jazz theme to celebrate the rich music history of the neighborhood with walls covered with vintage records. A massive oil painting there highlights musicians, like Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines, that played in Bronzeville clubs.

Any other Bronzeville highlights you’d like to share?

– Hannah (Research/Media Intern)


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

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Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
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Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
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Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
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