Woodlawn is bounded to the east by Lake Michigan and Jackson Park, soon to be home to the Obama Presidential Library and golf courses soon to receive a redesign by Tiger Woods, and to the northwest by Washington Park. South of Woodlawn is Greater Grand Crossing and north is Hyde Park.
In the past five years, 63rd Street, one of the community’s main thoroughfares, has seen a new school and another currently under construction. Preservation of Affordable Housing, POAH, is adding to their prior investment in the area by constructing new mixed-use developments at 61st and Cottage Grove and at 63rd and Cottage Grove. This will bring more housing and additional retail to the community.
The area is home to institutions like Experimental Station, a nonprofit hub that houses Blackstone Bicycle Works and the 61st Street Farmer’s Market’s three-season weekly farmer’s market among other groups. The University of Chicago recently constructed a new arts center, dormitory, and other facilities in the area. Further west, Washington Park is one of the largest in the Chicago Park District system and features a lagoon, pool, and baseball fields. Area schools include CPS’ Carnegie (Gifted and Talented), Dulles, Till, and Wadsworth, all Level 1 elementary schools, in addition to charter and private schools. The University of Chicago Charter School (6 through 12) has among highest percentage of college acceptance and enrollment in the state.
Woodlawn has excellent transportation options including the Green Line el, Metra, and easy access to the Dan Ryan expressway and Lake Shore Drive.
Lorraine Hansberry wrote her famous play A Raisin in the Sun about growing up black in a white neighborhood after her family moved to Woodlawn in 1937 and her father’s lawsuit against racial covenants in the area was decided by the Supreme Court. Realtor magazine wrote about the play and the community in May 2015.
Thumbnail sketch of the community is also available at the Southeast Chicago Commission website.
A journalist for the Chicago Bee newspaper coined the name Bronzeville in 1920 to refer to the area, recognizing it as one of the largest and most affluent urban African-American communities in the country. Today the area covers several Chicago communities including Douglas and Grand Boulevard. It is bordered on the north by 26th Street and the South Loop community and on the South by Washington Park; it stretches west from the lake to the Dan Ryan Expressway.
The community has been growing steadily for more than a decade. Major recent developments since 2016 include restoration of the Rosenwald Court Apartments, opening of Mariano’s supermarket at 39th and King Drive, and kickoff of plans for redevelopment of the former Michael Reese Hospital. The neighborhood is also site for development of the first public microgrid in Illinois whose purpose is to reduce power outages by allowing the community to generate some power locally.
Longtime nonprofit institutions in the community include Centers for New Horizons, Quad Communities Development Corp., and the Renaissance Collaborative, among many others. Illinois Institute of Technology, the Illinois College of Optometry, and Mercy Hospital & Medical Center are among other large institutions in the community. The area is home to numerous public and charter schools including K-8 schools Hendricks, Mollison, and Welles (all Levels 1-2).
The Bronzeville Historical Society offers resources and organizes events that highlight the area’s history; part 2 of a 2008 WTTW TV series on “Chicago’s Black Metropolis” focuses on the community as well. Thumbnail sketches of Bronzeville are available at Black Metropolis Convention and Tourism Council.