The Mid-South Side is the historic location of Chicago’s “Black Metropolis,” an economically integrated neighborhood that was the epicenter of African-American social and cultural life.
Known as Bronzeville since 1930, this neighborhood was home to many black-owned businesses, property owners and community leaders, as well as more than 500 churches. But starting in 1941 with the construction of the Ida B. Wells public housing low-rises, Bronzeville became the site of large-scale public housing development. In addition to four separate complexes on the east side of the community, the Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens along State Street housed 20,000 residents.
The once-overcrowded neighborhood has been losing population for the past four decades as the public housing complexes became severely deteriorated and middle-class residents moved to other areas. Between 1960 and 2000, more than 119,000 residents left the Douglas, Grand Boulevard, North Kenwood and Oakland community areas, bringing the population to 79,000. In 2000, 38 percent of households were below the poverty level, while 37 percent had an income above $35,000. About one-fourth of housing is owner-occupied.
Today the entire Mid South Side is undergoing rapid redevelopment as the Chicago Housing Authority implements its “Transformation” plan to replace obsolete housing with mixed-income developments. A $140 million development called Lake Park Crescent was developed the lake and the CHA's Ida B. Wells, Madden Park and Washington Park Homes have been replaced with mixed-income housing.
The neighborhood retains a thriving and committed black middle-class, has many small-scale entrepreneurs and developers, and is attracting new housing and commercial development. Homeowners are rehabbing historic greystones and rowhouses throughout the area.
Two key institutional neighbors are the University of Chicago, which has recently expanded its security patrols into the Mid-South area, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Both have used their Employer Assisted Housing programs to encourage staff and faculty to live nearby.
Quad Communities Development Corporation, the lead neighborhood agency, has played a key role in creating resident-led neighborhood plans and in implementing recommended projects. See QCDC's 2005 Quality-of-Life Plan.
||down 4% since 2000
|Racial/ethnic makeup (2010)
||91% African American, 6% white
|Total occupied units (2010)
||down 4% from 2000
|Owner occupied units (2010)
||up 12% from 2000
|Median household income (2010)
||up 21% from 2000
|Percentage above $50,000 (2010)
||17% above $75,000
Booming Bronzeville: QCDC Helped Create a “Good Problem” and Works on Even Better Solutions.
- John McCarron, Oct 1, 2015
- There's a point when community-based developers shift from chasing any kind of investment to cultivating those that best meet the needs of local residents. That's happening in Bronzeville now.
Shops & Lofts Lesson: Never Give Up
- John McCarron, Oct 16, 2014
- Mixed-use miracle at 47th & Cottage re-energizes Bronzeville and reaffirms the power of perseverance.
Keeping It Real
- John McCarron, Oct 1, 2014
- LISC’s partners, programs and ideas about neighborhood vitality were woven into this year’s UIC Urban Forum.
Businesses Reap Dividends of 'Special' Tax Zone
- Paolo Cisneros, Sep 16, 2014
- Around the city, LISC is helping communities establish and run Special Service Areas to cover the costs of security, beautification and special events for local small businesses.
Bikes Deliver as Vehicle for Community Development
- John McCarron, Jul 30, 2013
- Away from the lakefront, bikes are vehicles for skills-building and self confidence. Transportation, too.
Note to Small Biz: Loans Are Available
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Jun 6, 2013
- There’s good news for Mom and Pop corner stores, auto repair shops and your neighborhood taqueria. More loan options are available for small businesses than most realize.
Quad at 10, Looking Forward and Back
- Gordon Walek, May 14, 2013
- Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), which has played a major role reshaping the Mid South Side, is celebrating its 10 anniversary this week.
NCP Groups Gain Voice in School Closings
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Jan 18, 2013
- Spurred in part by the threat of school closings, groups in neighborhoods served by LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program are organizing like never before to influence district decision-making.
School Garden Provides Food for Thought
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Sep 13, 2012
- The Junior Green Youth Farm, which just completed its second summer at Reavis Elementary, is part youth-development camp and part real-life job
Elev8 Chicago Promotes Summer Learning and Voter Registration
- Maureen Kelleher, Aug 6, 2012
- Students march to encourage adults to register through connection with Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools
At Last, Bronzeville’s 'Alleluia'
- John McCarron, Jul 17, 2012
- Study in perseverance: Quad Communities’ seven-year struggle brings retail back to a key corner of Chicago’s South Side
Chicago Elev8 Stories: Brianna Reed
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Nov 12, 2011
- As a top student in her elementary school classes, Brianna Reed said she did just enough to please her teachers. It was only through her Elev8 after-school activities, which over three years included…
Chicago Elev8 Stories: Lessons Don't Stop at Graduation
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Nov 12, 2011
- The first group of students who completed Elev8 programming in middle school have now entered high school. Here are some of their stories.
Project Maps South Side Health and Vitality
- Ed Finkel, Sep 30, 2011
- Partnership between University of Chicago, South Side NCPs focuses on healthcare and other services
U of C, South Side NCPs Partner on ‘Grand Rounds’
- Ed Finkel, Sep 30, 2011
- Community Grand Rounds program brought a broader definition of health issues to a broad range of the community
Renewed Funding--and New Achievements--for Elev8
- Sep 1, 2011
- Atlantic Philanthropies announces a new $3.5 million grant to expand the program and study its impact at five CPS middle schools.
Summer Program Blends Literacy Skills With Fun
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Aug 17, 2011
- Fifty middle-school aged children and 30 of their younger siblings participated in a six-week program at Reavis Elementary modeled after one created for African-American children in Civil Rights-era…
Through News Literacy Project, Elev8 Students Develop Critical Eye
- Maureen Kelleher, Jun 23, 2011
- Do video games promote violence? Is Wikipedia a reliable source of information? Can news reporters unintentionally influence the stories they’re covering?
Elev8 Students Go To Washington
- Maureen Kelleher, May 7, 2011
- A delegation of 16 middle-school students from Elev8 Chicago who participated in the “Voices in Action: National Youth Summit,” held at Howard University in Washington, D.C., earlier this…
Elev8 School-Based Health Centers Boost Attendance, Academic Achievement
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Nov 2, 2010
- Students at the five middle schools in LISC/Chicago's Elev8 program are also benefiting in a multitude of ways related to health and social services.
Students to Springfield: More $ for Health Services
- Elizabeth Duffrin, Jun 15, 2009
- Sixty students from Ames Middle and Reavis Elementary recently boarded a yellow bus bound for Springfield to lobby for more school health centers.
Reavis Students Showcase Afterschool Talents
- Elizabeth Duffrin, May 12, 2009
- On a rainy spring evening at Reavis Elementary in Kenwood, the hallways were lit and bustling. Three seventh-grade girls in cheerleading outfits leapt and waved their pom-poms, shouting, “Hi,…
Reavis Students Learn About Healthy Eating
- Maureen Kelleher, Nov 10, 2008
- On a late September morning, 33 Reavis Elementary sixth graders started learning about healthy eating by drawing their favorite fruits and vegetables on paper chef hats. They drew lots of nature's…
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