Walk Through Bronzeville

On 39th and Indiana at 5:00 p.m. a sea of people exit the Green-line, most headed to parked cars along Indiana Ave. It is among the last streets in Chicago that doesn’t have parking meters. Many exiting the Green-line live within walking distance but feel it safer to drive home instead of walking.After rush hour Bronzeville is quiet with the exception of a few hot spots, only a few of having positive attributes. Mandrake Park, the running-track on 39th and Cottage Grove, 47th St., 43rd and Cottage, and the corner of 39th and King Dr., where Baba’s a fast food restaurant, a barbershop, and liquor store reside.Bronzeville is unlike communities like Andersonville, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, or Rogers Park, retail meccas. There is not much foot traffic within Bronzeville. Occasionally do you see mother’s strolling their babies for sheer pleasure, parents out with their children or, people walking to the grocery store. Typically Bronzeville residents walk with intention, to get to a destination like the “L” station or bus stop to leave the neighborhood. Slowly but surely the culture is changing, residents are beginning to walk dogs and socialize with neighbors along Martin Luther King Dr. On the surface it does not look as if there is much to do, but if you dig there’s quite a bit to take advantage of in Bronzeville. Generally people do things outside of the community- grocery shop, dine, shop, and go to the theater.Terry Young recently completed the renovation of a 10,000 sq. ft. events and fitness facility at 4321 S. Cottage Grove Ave., called The Connection, his mission is to promote a relative comfort in the way Bronzeville residents move throughout and celebrate our neighborhoods, “fitness is an excellent way to achieve this,” says Young.The Connection is also the home of TSen Dojo. The Connection focuses on connecting people through fitness, fun, business, and networking. Terry Sensei and collaborator have taken on the challenge of organizing a running tour of many of Bronzeville’s historical sites.It’s not a continual run; participants stop to catch a breath and get a history lesson. They got the idea after reading an article that featured what he likes to refer as community activists or “positive loiterers” as they are referred. They chose not to stand by and not watch violence take root in their neighborhood, so they joined together to do something about it. Piggybacking on groups like Critical Mass, a bicycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world.Instead groups of bikers reclaiming the streets, Young intends to run to reclaim his neighborhood. He is also a resident of Bronzeville. His tour narrators depict the legacy of the near south side as the tour winds through the streets of Bronzeville. They stop at historic sites, homes, churches, and sample local restaurant fare. Cost to participate is $25.There are others within the community advocating for healthy change. Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel and partner created a non-profit called Urban Juncture which currently has begun and urban garden at 343 E. 51st St. that is open to the public, on private land. They have acquired property across the street from the garden and plan to open a restaurant by the spring of 2011.In the works is Majani a vegan restaurant located 300 E. 51st, a restaurant that features southern cooking, and a smoke house. This corner needs lively activity, says Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel. Currently there exists, Babas, a barber….. “Our goals are to create 100 jobs in order to revitalize the community,” says Emmanuel. Tsadakeeyah isn’t intimidated by Bronzeville, and hopes to bring back an element of fun to his community.Bronzeville is surrounded by Chinatown on the northwest, Bridgeport just west, Fuller Park located at the south west corner and Hyde Park and Woodlawn just south. If you keep going east you eventually reach Lake Michigan. Bronzeville, the Metropolis as it was once and continues to be referred as is the center of some of Chicago’s most distinctive communities.Bronzeville has an interesting story of its own to tell, which can be seen in its architecture. Among them are the art deco home of the former Chicago Bee newspaper, now a Chicago Public Library branch; the Eighth Regiment Armory, now a Chicago Public Schools military academy; and the Wabash Avenue YMCA, former home of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, one of the first groups devoted to African-American studies.Historically Bronzeville’s boundaries have been considered to be 31st Street and McCormick Place on the north, Cottage Grove Blvd. to the east, 65th St. to the south and the I-90/94 corridor to the west. The community encompasses portions of the Douglas and Grand Boulevard communities a 491 acre district. Three aldermen serve in the community 2nd Ward Alderman-Robert Fioretti, (3rd)Pat Dowell and Toni Preckwinkle (4th).Between 1960 and 2000, Bronzeville lost a large portion its residents and housing base, most major businesses closed or moved out, and virtually all of its quality retail and entertainment venues shut down. Many of the economic problems still persist. The median income is $27,800, according to the U.S. Census.Bronzeville was granted $42 million in public dollars to attract a minimum of $116 million in private investments. Priorities include historic preservation, business expansion, and cultural projects that promote the area’s attractiveness as a place to live and do business. Bronzeville is well on its way to once again reclaim its status as The Black Metropolis.Where you gonna run? Bronzeville has much to offer.Lakefront
Running-track on 39th and CottageJokes and Notes
4641 South King Drive
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 373-3390Bronzeville Coffee and Tea
528 E. 43rd St.
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 536-0494Bronzeville Boutique
4259 S. King Drive
Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 891-4473Northeastern IL. University
700 E. Oakwood Boulevard
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 268-7500Urban Juncture
Community Garden
300 E. 51st
Chicago, IL. 60615Sensual Steps Shoe Salon
4518 South Cottage Grove Avenue
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 548-3338Gallery Guichard
3521 S. Martin Luther King Dr
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 373-8000Ain’t She Sweet Café
Chicago, IL.
(773) 373-3530Simply Soup Salad & Sandwiches‎
635 East 47th Street
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 373-3810Harold Cultural Center
4701 Martin Luther King Dr.
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 924-5156‎Chicago Chicken and Waffles
3947 S King Dr
(at Oakwood Blvd)
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 536-3300Southside Community Art Center
3831 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL. 60653
(773) 373-1026