Chicago Cultural Sites
Jazz Institute of Chicago
DESCRIPTION: Located in the Fine Arts Building, a Romanesque structure built in 1885, this institute is the source to find all things jazz in Chicago. A ballet company and other performing arts companies share the building.
ADMISSION: appt only
ADDRESS: 410 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garage nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Harold Washington Library Station
Chess Records Building / Blues Heaven
DESCRIPTION: After Leonard and Phil Chess bought out Aristocrat records, they changed the name to Chess Records in 1950. Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson, Ramsey Lewis, James Moody, Ahmad Jamal, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Stitt, Fontella Bass and Etta James recorded here. Surprisingly, they were not racially progressive. The Chess brothers even made the biggest black artists enter through the back stairs and obtain permission to access the floor containing their offices. Willie Dixon, the composer-in-residence, authored more than 500 songs, which were sung by a Who’s Who of major artists. Minnie Ripperton worked here as a receptionist. Blues Heaven Foundation, founded by the late Willie Dixon to promote blues education in schools help blues artists collect royalties, is located in the restored Chess Records studio. Silhouettes on the fence represent from left to right, Bo Diddley, Albert King and Koko Taylor. During warm weather Blues musicians perform on the garden stage. Inside the building, where the loved and loathed Chess Brothers used to press, package and ship records, are various memorabilia and tributes to the many performers and music created here.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 9:30a-5:30p
ADDRESS: 2120 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: Cermak-Chinatown CTA Station
DESCRIPTION: Home of the Oprah Winfrey Show, this state-of-the-art film and TV production center is one of only two owned by an African-American woman. Oprah Winfrey is seen by 15-20 million viewers around the globe and was the highest rated talk show in history. The studio building was formerly a U.S. armory, roller rink and streetcar barn until purchased and renovated in 1988. Ticket Requests should be made one month in advance.
ADMISSION: free, but tickets must be obtained in advance
ADDRESS: 1058 West Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garage nearby + street
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Oglive Transportation Center
PHONE: 312-633-1000 audience reservations
Michael Jordan Statue
DESCRIPTION: A soaring tribute to the person widely acknowledged as, the world’s greatest basketball player. He wears 6 NBA championship rings and two retirement comebacks. It is located on the eastern side of the United Center, where Michael played.
ADDRESS: 1901 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: on premises
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Illinois Medical District Station
Martin Luther King Drive
DESCRIPTION: By trekking the Bronzeville Walk of Fame from 25th to 47th Street, you will see dozens of inlaid bronze plaques on brick sidewalks at major intersections. The plaques honor famous local residents such as astronaut Mae Jamison, Joe Louis, Sammy Davis Jr., and Mahalia Jackson for their valor and historic achievement. The large bronze street map of Bronzeville inlaid at 35th Street, it lists over 120 historic sites in the extended area of Bronzeville bounded by 25th, State, King, and 47th Street. On the east side of the 4700 block, encounter the original Royal Theatre and Savoy Ballroom sites, which rivaled the Apollo Theatre and Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Its now a parking structure. This grand drive serves as the Bud Billiken Parade route each August. More than 70 years old, it has grown to become one of the nation’s top five parades.
ADDRESS: from West Cermak Road to the length of the Southside, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA 43rd Street, Indiana Ave, 47th Street or 51st Street stations
Monument to the Great Northern Migration
DESCRIPTION: Dedicated in 1996, Allison Saar created this tall bronze-colored statue of a hatted man with suitcase. It honors tens of thousands of African Americans who migrated in the early 20th century from the brutal Deep South to settle in Chicago. The walking statue faces northbound.
ADDRESS: Martin Luther King Drive between 25th and 26th Streets, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra 27th Street Station
Victory Monument for the Eighth Regiment
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1926, this granite shaft has inset bronze panels with a shiny patina. An African-American WWI soldier stands on top, and the Columbia patriotic figure holding a tablet which lists the regiment’s principal battles. There is a ceremony here every Memorial Day to honor the “Fighting Eighth” Regiment.
ADDRESS: Martin Luther King Drive at 35th Street, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA 35-Bronzeville-IIT Station
Harold Washington Cultural Center
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 2004, it’s the heart of Bronzeville. The 40,000-square foot center is named for Chicago’s first black mayor, who grew up in the neighborhood. A sculpture of Harold Washington by sculptor Ed Dwight adorns the front corner. This 1,000-seat performing arts theater was built to contain state of the art sound and lighting. The Digital Media Resources Center, the Music Business and Performance Arts Institute, and the Radio-Television Broadcast Program are tremendous in-house resources for students to access and experience.
ADMISSION: event-based fees, otherwise by appt
ADDRESS: 4701 Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA 47th-Green Station
Little Black Pearl Academy
DESCRIPTION: Founded by Monica Haslip in 1996, this art school teaches the business of art to kids in the Southside. What a jewel. It was founded in her basement, then grown into a 40,000 square foot facility that houses a two-story atrium for special events, art studios for woodworking, glass-blowing, welding, painting, mosaics, pottery and photography. There’s also a Chase Kid’s Café, a gallery and retail store. Broadening its mission in response to community needs, this treasured cultural arts center also provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and adult classes.
ADMISSION: free, but fees for some special events
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 9a-9p, Sat 10a-3p
ADDRESS: 1060 East 47th Street, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra 47th Street Station
Southside Community Arts Center
DESCRIPTION: Since its dedication in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt in the Old Comiskey Mansion, the center has been an important artistic contributor to Bronzeville. Classes include pottery, painting, drawing and photography. Access to the gallery is free, but there are fees for classes.
DAYS & HOURS: Wed-Fri Noon-5p, Sat 9a-5p, Sun 1p-5p
ADDRESS: 3831 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Indiana Station
Bronzeville Academy and Military Museum
DESCRIPTION: Named in honor of Brigadier General Richard L. Jones who commanded the 178th Regiment from 1947-1953. Due to discrimination in America, the 178th Regiment, the only infantry unit completely staffed by black officers, was designated the 370th Regiment and attached to the French army during WWI. Under General Jones leadership, the 178th earned the French Croix de Guerre honor for valor. This venue was formerly the 8th Regiment Armory before a $15 million facelift completed. Now the 80-year old facility serves as a high school ROTC academy and national museum of African-Americans in the U.S. military.
ADMISSION: donation requested
DAYS & HOURS: call for hours
ADDRESS: 3519 South Giles Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA 35-Bronzeville-IIT Station
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Headquarters
DESCRIPTION: Led by Ethel Hedgeman and 8 other students at Howard University this sorority was founded 1908. Nellie Quander and her associates expanded to a national organization in 1912. The sorority serves all mankind through more than 140,000 women in over 860 chapters worldwide. Headquarters are located in a multi-story structure in Hyde Park.
ADMISSION: appt only
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 8:30a-5p
ADDRESS: 5656 South Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: 55th-56th-57th Streets Metra station
South Shore Cultural Center
DESCRIPTION: The center is a restored former country club and features high-quality cultural programs throughout the year. Those events include Real Men Cook, Paul Robeson Theatre Series, Chicago Sinfonetta, Jazz Festival, and sometimes a Gospel Festival.
ADMISSION: free + fees for some events
DAYS & HOURS: Varies
ADDRESS: 7100 South Shore Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: on premises
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra South Shore Station
ETA Creative Arts Foundation
DESCRIPTION: Cultural home for many community Griots and playwrights, this is the only African American-owned performing arts and training complex in Chicago. Call for classes and event schedule.
ADMISSION: mostly free, but there are fees for special events
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 10a-6p
ADDRESS: 7558 South Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA 75th Street-Grand Crossing Metra Station
Carter G. Woodson Library
DESCRIPTION: Perhaps there is no more fitting way to honor the Father of Negro History, than to include one of the largest caches of African American historical documents and literature in the nation — the Vivian Harsh Collection. Harsh was the first African American woman to head the Chicago Public Library. She collected nearly 70,000 works, with substantial coverage on the works by Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Thu 10a-8p, Fri-Sat 9a-5p
ADDRESS: 9525 South Halsted Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: on street
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Longwood Station
A Philip Randolph – Pullman Porter Museum
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1995 by Lyn Hughes, this multi-story museum and gallery located in the historic Pullman District features African American Railroad employee photographic exhibits and artifacts. The museum is named for A. Philip Randolph, civil rights activist and co-founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. 1937 was a year of firsts for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters: (1) America’s 1st and largest Black-controlled union, (2) first union admitted to the AFL as a full member, and (3) first Black union to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with a major corporation, the Pullman Company. That agreement revolutionized African-American labor and kick-started the Civil Rights Movement.
ADMISSION: small fee
DAYS & HOURS: Thu-Sat 11a-4p
ADDRESS: 10406 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: on premises & street
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra 103rd Street-Rosemoor Station