Build Bronzeville: a community organization aiming to revitalize Bronzeville through entrepreneurship, culinary cuisine, historic destinations, and environmental beautification. We’re joining with friends, neighbors, and partners to rebuild this historic Chicago community into the vibrant hub of Black culture and commerce it once was.
BUILD BRONZEVILLE DEVELOPMENTS
Developments are being made in commercial real estate and business enterprises that address the needs of underserved communities. Our developments are designed as destinations for a culturally unique experience. They incorporate food, the arts, environmental beautification, entrepreneurship, and commerce to re-connect neighbors and expand economic opportunity in our neighborhood.
Bronzeville Cookin' Restaurant Row is a unique dining destination celebrating the cuisines, cultures, and communities of peoples of African descent at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line. 4 locally-owned restaurants share a turn-of-the-century building in the heart of the historic Bronzeville community. Each venue offers a different aspect of Black cuisine, one of the world’s richest.
The Incubator brings together ambitious first and second-stage entrepreneurs in the culinary, creative, and sustainability industries who share a commitment to community development and who value being a part of an enterprise wherein peers and mentors, education, and networking in these arenas converge. Entrepreneurs can learn from experts, use furnished resources, and network with one another while building their own thriving business.
Boxville is a seasonal marketplace open Wednesday afternoons, from 4-7 p.m, and Sundays from 12-4pm. Shipping containers become storefronts and a bike repair shops. Local and regional businesses set up shop to vend their wares, from fresh and prepared foods to clothing and jewelry. Music from the disc jockey fills the marketplace and the Neighborhood Square turns into a plaza filled with regulars and curious passersby.
When renovations are complete, The Forum will feature performing arts, entertainment, commerce, and social engagement. After a four-decade closure, this historic venue that once welcomed performers like Nat King Cole will become the cornerstone for local life in Bronzeville, and once again spark social, political, and economic development.
Beautification & Engagement
Environmental improvements include initiatives for outdoor beautification like the Bronzeville Community Garden, located on the southeast corner of 51st and Calumet, 51st Street Trees, garden and bike paths, and the Wall of Peace and Love. In addition, the creation of functional green space in Green Line Farms and Greenhouse Box are sources for fresh, healthy foods for community residents and restaurant goers.
It takes a commitment from and collaboration between community members, the business sector, government municipalities, and charitable foundations to bring each new concept to life. Our partners in revitalization are critical to Build Bronzeville’s success. Learn how you can help.How to Help
Build Bronzeville is about our drive to recapture Bronzeville's Promise and Potential. We’re building a community that reflects the rich culture and diversity of this historic neighborhood, a community that serves long-time residents and urban professionals just moving in, and one that provides a unique destination for visitors.
HISTORY OF BRONZEVILLE
In the first half of the 20th century, Bronzeville was one of the most important destinations of the “Great Migration”, the move of hundreds of thousands of African Americans fleeing oppression down south in search of the Promised Land up north. Finding that racism did not end at the Mason-Dixon Line, these migrants created a unique Black Metropolis that provided all of their needs within the narrow boundaries of their community. They gave rise to a Black Arts Movement, created gospel and electrified blues, built hundreds of businesses, and created a political base that eventually would give birth to the nation’s first Black president.
Bronzeville’s fortunes began to decline in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Broad disinvestment by the city, large corporations, and absentee owners resulted in the decay of many neighborhoods. Consequently, when racist housing restrictions were struck down, many Blacks followed the broader societal trend to the suburbs.
At the same time, local businesses lost many of their customers to well-capitalized downtown and suburban competitors newly opening their doors to black patrons. As a result, commercial enterprises and jobs disappeared, crime rose, and the population plummeted.
In 2003 we formed Urban Juncture, Inc. now Build Bronzeville, and began developing a plan for bringing commerce back to our community – specifically the culturally-rich but financially-poor community that is Bronzeville. In 2005 we purchased our first 51st Street property and focused our plan on food initially, recognizing its central role in our physical and social lives and the broad economic impact of quality local eateries. At the time there were just a handful such entities in Bronzeville, and no black food district in Chicago. Since then we’ve expanded to include other commercial concepts like Boxville, our seasonal marketplace, and social and environmental improvements that support the commercial ecosystem.