Bronzeville—Chicago’s flourishing multicultural epicenter—is known for its rich history, diverse community, and vibrant culture. Home to legendary musician Louis Armstrong, Pulitzer Prize-winner Gwendolyn Brooks, and infamous civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, Bronzeville is well known for its Victorian-era architecture, 19th-century mansions, monuments, libraries, galleries, and more.
Bronzeville also boasts a diverse business community where visitors can enjoy historic landmarks, listen to jazz and gospel music, as well as visit an array of well-known restaurants and nightlife. We’ll explore the must-see monuments, shops, restaurants, and landmarks throughout the area to help you explore Bronzeville like a local.
Known for its delectable American comfort food and African cuisine, Bronzeville is the place to be for those in search of crispy chicken and waffles, juicy ribs, and African-inspired delicacies. Yassa offers innovative dishes from West Africa including mafé, succulent chicken yassa, and seared lamb shank. Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles is home to savory soul food, including their signature cinnamon waffles and crispy fried chicken. Known for their breakfast and brunch, Pearl’s Palace is a soul food eatery in the heart of Bronzeville offering sweet potato pie, Belgian waffles, and their infamous sausage. For informal dining, Alice’s Bar-B-Que offers some of the best bar-b-que in the city and is an inexpensive, laid back take-out spot.
Although nightlife is looking a little different in 2020, Bronzeville still offers a variety of safe bar options that allow locals to have fun while social distancing. Odyssey II is a 25-and-up ‘90s R&B bar that offers karaoke on Tuesday nights and a fun crowd. The Renaissance offers a hip club scene with a DJ, dance floor, and live performances. Juke Joynt is also a fun bar located close to the Renaissance in the heart of Bronzeville’s blues and jazz district.
Bronzeville is filled with several cultural landmarks and public art installations. Visitors can tour the homes of Ida B. Wells, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and the Marx Brothers—all of whom lived in Bronzeville. The Victory Monument is located at 35th Street and King Drive, honoring the African American regiment of the United States Infantry that fought in France during World War I.
The Monument to the Great Northern Migration honors the African Americans who escaped the Jim Crow South and came to Chicago in search of new opportunities. Martin Luther King Drive features the Monument to the Great Northern Migration as well as the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, which celebrates poet Gwendolyn Brooks, astronaut Robert H. Lawrence Jr., and more than 100 other well-known neighborhood residents who lived in Bronzeville.
Parks and Outdoor Areas
Oakwood Beach, Chicago’s newest beach, is located on 41st Street at Lake Michigan (4100 South Lake Shore Drive) in Bronzeville. The beach features stunning views of the Chicago skyline and sandy areas for beachgoers to soak up the sun.
Dunbar Park, named after the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, is also located in Bronzeville and features a playground, baseball field, tennis courts, batting cage, and 20 acres of greenspace. Ellis Park is an additional recreational option, totaling 13 acres and offering fields for football and soccer as well as a soft-surface playground.
Colleges and Universities
Northeastern Illinois University, Dawson Technical Institute of Kennedy King College, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the Chicago Military Academy are located in Bronzeville, making it an attractive area for young people.
Bronzeville is home to the only row homes that Frank Lloyd Wright ever built, titled the Robert W. Roloson Houses. Martin Luther King Drive is lined with gorgeous, must-see 19th-century greystone and brownstone mansions. Several designated historic districts are also found in Bronzeville, including the Calumet-Giles Prairie District, the Giles-Calumet District, and the Washington Park Court District.
Similar to Harlem in New York City, Bronzeville is a focal point for Chicago’s vibrant African American artwork, literature, theater, and culture. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bronzeville offered a free Art District Trolley Tour on the third Friday of every month. This free tour is now held on Zoom for residents’ safety, offering virtual tours of the SSCAC, Guichard, and Steelelife art galleries for those interested in purchasing or browsing art.
Bronzeville is home to several locally-owned shops and boutiques, including Bronzeville Boutique which offers modern fashion for women and trendy footwear. Located at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line, Boxville is a popular street food market serving Bronzeville residents with everyday essentials and providing a space for local entrepreneurs to sell their products.
Ready to Move to Bronzeville?
Bronzeville is a burgeoning Chicago neighborhood that has been home to several important historical figures. A vibrant community filled with proud residents and rich historic architecture, Bronzeville offers several monuments, memorials, buildings, and museums to see and tour. The area is well-known for its delectable comfort food, making a visit to Bronzeville incomplete without trying their famous chicken and waffles or juicy ribs.
For those interesting in making Bronzeville their new home, Draper and Kramer has owned and operated a spacious and affordable lakefront rental community in Bronzeville, Lake Meadows, for more than 60 years. Lake Meadows includes studios, one-, two- and three-bedrooms ranging from 425 to 1,228 square feet. Every unit offers city and park views, spacious closets, and utility packages, and select units also include upgraded kitchens, baths, and a balcony.
The Lake Meadows community features scenic parks, tennis courts, a dog park, and a clubhouse to enjoy. The Bronzeville-IIT Red and Green Line CTA train station are located in close proximity to Lake Meadows, offering residents quick access to anywhere in Chicago.
A 170,000+ square foot shopping center is also located in the Lake Meadows community which includes a recently renovated Jewel-Osco grocery store. A stunning mural art project was included in the grocery store’s exterior renovation, which was commissioned by Draper and Kramer. The mural art, titled “Heart of Bronzeville,” was designed by local artist Corey Jenkins, founder and CEO of Jayinex, Inc.
To learn more about Lake Meadows or schedule a virtual tour of the property, visit Draper and Kramer today.