Since 1897, The Forum’s muscular presence at 43rd Street, with the “El”, its distinctive “Forum Hall”, and it’s six large retail slots, made it a South Side Hub for prominent performers, powerful politicians, parties and partygoers, and peddlers and patrons of all persuasions.


Nat King Cole played Forum Hall. Captain Walter Dyett directed the Pilgrim Baptist Church orchestra in it. It gave legendary bassist Milt Hinton his start and provided a key stage for many other jazz greats. It hosted the Annual Convention of the Elks, soirees of Green Donkeys and Kute Kittens, beauty contests, boxing, and everything in between. It was an organizing center for the labor movement, radical groups, and Civil Rights activists.

All the while, it provided a range of retail offerings from fresh fruit and vegetables to some of the South Side’s best barbecue, from ballroom dancing instruction to Japanese tea. Even when the Dark Days of Bronzeville silenced The Forum, it stood tall, defying the elements, grime and crime, and the departure of three-quarters of the community’s residents.

The Future

Now, after a four-decade hiatus, Build Bronzeville is working to bring back The Forum. Renovations are underway.

History has taught us how The Forum served our community in the past. In time, The Forum will be – once again – a unique resource for neighbors, a ‘go-to’ cultural destination for all, and an engine for community revitalization. The Forum will feature entertainment opportunities like live music, theater performances, and art showings as well as retail shops. 

In our effort to complete the stabilization of The Forum, Build Bronzeville has launched a crowd-funding opportunity for neighborhood investors through WeFunder. For more information visit our Wefunder profile page :


The Forum is located at 318-328 East 43rd Street (adjacent to the CTA station) in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community.

The Forum Gallery


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.