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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

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Locating the Site

Map 2: Chicago's Black Metropolis and surrounding area, 1920s. [Map 2] with link to higher quality map.

As in most parts of the U.S., Chicago's African American community was concentrated in certain areas rather than being assimilated into the city at large. From the middle of the 1800s, one of the largest concentrations of blacks was south of the main business district in an area known as the Near South Side. Around the turn of the century, the number of blacks in this neighborhood expanded rapidly, primarily as the result of migration from the South. The resulting community, whose borders also grew, became known as "Black Metropolis" or "Bronzeville."

1. Use a highlighter to mark the following features that helped define and characterize this community and its edges:

a) Twenty-ninth Street, whch runs east and west, immediately south of the number "28";
b) the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, which run north and south, along the far left of the map;
c) the Illinois Central Railroad tracks, which follow the lakefront;
d) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a broad parkway that begins in the upper right-hand corner of the map and proceeds due south, so that, at the bottom of the map, it is midway between the Pennsylvania and Illinois Central track;
e) Comiskey Park, then home of the Chicago White Sox, near the center of the map in section 33;
f) Thirty-fifth Street, which runs east and west, immediately south of Comiskey Park;
g) Thirty-ninth Street, at the bottom of the map, immediately south of the block marked with "585";
h) the area around the intersection of Thirty-fifth and State Streets, which formed the center of Black Metropolis in the 1920s. State Street is the fifth street east of Comiskey Park, midway between the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The dotted line down the center of the street indicates a streetcar route.

2. Why do you think blacks were concentrated in certain sections of Chicago?

* The map on the screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a high quality version of this map, but be aware that the file will take as much as two minutes to a load with a 28.8K modem.




Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.