Located about four miles south of the Loop, Bronzeville is one of Chicago’s most storied and celebrated neighborhoods.
Known for its rich history as a center for business and the arts, Bronzeville has served as the home of many renowned leaders, creators, and activists over the decades, ranging from legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong, to the history-making astronaut Robert H Lawrence, Jr., to the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells.
Today, Bronzeville is full of plenty of unique and exciting things to see and do. So, what should be on your “bucket list” of things to experience in this legendary community? Here are ten of the can’t miss sights and attractions that make Bronzeville shine:
1.) Grab Comfort Food From Around the World
Bronzeville’s food scene can give you a culinary tour of the globe, in just a few blocks. This booming restaurant district is home to restaurants that shine the spotlight on comforting cuisine from all across the country and around the world. For international eats, look no further than the filling fare at Truth Italian Restaurant, or the scrumptious Senegalese cooking at Yassa Restaurant. For southern-style comfort food, be sure to pay a visit to Pearl’s Place, Peach’s on 47th, or Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles. You’ll find unique and flavorful barbecue at Honey 1 BBQ, and sweets that satisfy at Abundance Bakery and Ain’t She Sweet Cafe.
2.) Spend a Day In Ellis Park
Ellis Park is one of Chicago’s oldest greenspaces — but it has more than a few modern finishes that help it stand out. This huge public park spans nearly 13 acres, and boasts top-of-the-line facilities including athletic fields, tennis courts, and a soft surface playground. And at the center of it all is the park’s Arts and Recreation Center, a 32,000 square foot facility that features an indoor pool, fitness center, multi-purpose arts and community spaces, and so much more.
3.) Get Lost In Incredible Art
Bronzeville has long been one of the city’s biggest centers for the arts, and that tradition continues today, thanks to a thriving district of galleries, showrooms, and community centers. The Southside Community Art Center is a showcase for Bronzeville’s “Legacy of Artistic Excellence” in a gorgeous landmark building. Nearby, Gallery Guichard showcases an ever-changing collection of work from artists of the African diaspora, while Faie Afrikan Art proudly displays works originating from all over the African continent. Blanc Gallery also helps bring fine art to the area, with the aim of igniting a dialogue “on issues of spiritual, political and social significance.”
4.) See the Area’s Monuments and Memorials
The Bronzeville area is full of history, and you can find public art telling the neighborhood’s story around nearly every corner. In addition to its stunning collections of murals, Bronzeville is home to some impressive monuments, including the Monument to the Great Northern Migration, which honors those who traveled to Chicago from the southern states throughout the 20th Century. Nearby, the Victory Monument celebrates the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, an African-American division which became famous for its heroism during World War I. Located in the Douglas community, you’ll also find the Stephen A. Douglas Tomb, a 46-foot marble column and 10-foot statue which marks the final resting pace of the famous Illinois politician, best known today for being a frequent debate partner to Abraham Lincoln.
5.) Listen to Live Music at a Bronzeville Institution
For decades, Bronzeville has been known for its thriving musical scene. Over the years, the neighborhood has played host to some of the world’s most famous blues, jazz, gospel, and rock and roll musicians. Today, you’ll find plenty of one-of-a-kind venues throughout the community keeping to keep the area’s musical legacy alive. Room 43 is one of Chicagoland’s finest institutions for live jazz, and you can enjoy open mics and musical acts throughout the week at destinations like Juke Joynt and Norman’s Bistro.
6.) Stroll the Bronzeville Walk of Fame
Activists, artists, and cultural luminaries have called Bronzeville home for generations. Located on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive between 25th and 35th, the Bronzeville Walk of Fame is an impressive tribute to some of the legendary names that have passed through the area, including Ida B. Wells and Gwendolyn Brooks. Across these blocks, you’ll find nearly 100 plaques and unique artistic installations celebrating these influential neighborhood residents and their world-changing accomplishments.
7.) Celebrate the Arts at Harold Washington Cultural Center
Named in honor of the first African American mayor of Chicago, the Harold Washington Cultural Center is an impressive institution for the performing arts. Standing on 47th Street, this enormous facility hosts comedy shows, live performances, speeches, books readings, tap dancing, and community gatherings. The center also comes complete with spaces for artists to perfect their craft, including a video editing lab, a recording studio, and more.
8.) Explore the Illinois Institute of Technology
Nestled in the northern end of the Bronzeville area, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) campus has been lauded as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world. In addition to designs from Rem Koolhaas and Helmut Jahn, this historic school boasts noteworthy architecture from the legendary Chicagoland architect Mies van der Rohe, including S.R. Crown Hall, a National Historic Landmark that has been called “one of the world’s most influential, inspiring, and astonishing structures.”
9.) Find Your Next Great Outfit at a Bronzeville Shop
You’ll find incredible shopping throughout Bronzeville, whether you’re looking for a vintage garment or a fashion forward accessory. Nestled on King Drive just north of Grand Boulevard, Bronzeville Boutique is one of the area’s go-to spots for stunning womenswear. Not too far away, Fort Smith is a local institution for luxurious clothing and jewelry. And for a truly inspiring blast from the past? A Lotta Good Stuff is an upscale consignment shop that sells furniture, home decor, fashion accessories, and more.
10.) Help Build a Love for History, Science, and Art at the Bronzeville Children’s Museum
Priding itself as the first and only African American-centered children’s museum in the country, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum is a local draw that helps kids learn and grow through play. The museum showcases the contributions of notable African American inventors, doctors, scientists, and business leaders through an impressive collection of engaging, interactive exhibits and recreation areas.
Want to Keep Exploring?
Want to get to know the iconic Bronzeville community even better? To see market trends, properties for sale, and other important information you should know about this thriving area, please visit our guide to Bronzeville area real estate, available here.