President Biden Set To Sign Creation Of The Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area

View of historical Bronzeville mansions via The City of Neighborhoods

The upcoming bills set forward to designate a large portion of the South Side predominantly around Bronzeville as a National Heritage Area will now be signed by President Biden. The two bills H.R. 670 and S.511, which we covered in greater detail exactly a year ago as they were introduced for review by a subcommittee of the National Parks Service, received the necessary legislative votes and will now make their way to the president’s desk. The bills were introduced by US Representative Bobby Rush and Senator Dick Durbin early last year.

Boundaries of Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area via Google Maps

Once signed, the National Heritage Area would become the third in the state and be called the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area, honoring the national and global influences and history of the neighborhood beginning around the Great Migration when an approximate six million African Americans moved to the north and midwest from the deep south. The rough boundaries of the area would stretch from 18th Street on the north down to 71st Street on the south, and from the lakefront on the east to the Dan Ryan on the west.

Historical view of Pilgrims Baptist Church via National Trust for Historic Preservation

During the migration, over 500,000 Black Americans moved to Chicago and established multiple flourishing neighborhoods in the city with Bronzeville becoming known for its innovative businesses and beautiful homes. Often referred to as a city within a city, the area gave us many first from Bessie Coleman and the first nationally chartered Black-owned bank to the birth of Gospel Music and Black History Month, money would move around within the community multiple times before leaving it.

Current view of Overton Hygienic Building, once home to Douglass National Bank via Illinois Tech Magazine

However due to decades of disinvestment, red-lining, and other aggressive discriminatory policies, by 2010 Bronzeville has lost 75 percent of its population but is now seeing a resurgence with a growth of 16 percent in the last census. Once approved, the designation would create a protection around many structures and set forth tougher regulations on their removal, while also providing a 1:1 match of funds set forth from non-federal sources for projects within its boundaries. The bills are set to be signed early this year and go into effect soon thereafter. Both bills, H.R. 670 and S.511 can be read here.

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2 Comments on "President Biden Set To Sign Creation Of The Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area"

  1. This is fantastic for so many reasons. Generally, Chicago is rehabbing and reinventing itself, with a pretty interesting mix of good urban (recent and not a political comment, even though everything on resources is political)but Bronzeville is a particularly important historical neighborhood in Chicago, nationally, and I daresay, globally. I was raised in Bronzeville by a parent who emigrated during the Great Migration. Glad to see it.

  2. I don’t have a comment about the designation, but I love the architectural and social history imbedded in the first photo. The ~1920-ish addition between the two 19th century mansions likely is a physical manifestation of the socio-economic changes/history of this neighborhood.

    This was likely an adaption of the two mansions into one large apartment building or an expansion of one mansion into an apartment building.


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