The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the eliminations commence!
Bronzeville carries a history rooted in the celebration of black culture—iconic musician Louis Armstrong, Pulitzer Prize recipient Gwendolyn Brooks, and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells were all highly influential in the area’s development. It’s one of Chicago’s historically black neighborhoods, and it’s name is even influenced by this piece of its past. It is also the birthplace of Gospel music and the place where what is now Black History Month was created.
Today the neighborhood is filled with rows of historic greystone and brownstone buildings along its wide boulevards. It remains an affordable, and architecturally significant, area that is great for families. The Ellis Par Arts and Recreation Center and the serpentine 35th Street bike and pedestrian bridge are solid amenities for residents too.
Bronzeville also has a number of historic, landmark buildings. Mies van der Rohe’s S.R. Crown Hall, one of the most significant buildings in the modernist movement, can be found on Illinois Institute of Technology’s campus here. One recent addition to the list of historic buildings is the South Shore Community Arts Center. The area has also seen an increase in investment from developers with plans to redevelop Washington Park Homes and another multifamily project is in the works to help fill vacant land. The city is also looking to break ground on a mixed-use development on the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital.
Edgewater was once considered one of Chicago’s wealthiest areas, and it could be argued that the neighborhood is headed in that direction again. As you could probably guess, the neighborhood has great beaches (even one for the dogs) and a ton of parks. There are solid, diverse restaurant options and the area boasts a robust antiques market.
Most recently the community and preservationists have been concerned about the proposed replacement of the Woodruff Arcade building. The two-story shopping arcade was the predecessor to modern malls and is the last of its kind in Chicago. Despite a push from residents, it looks like the seven-story apartment building will move ahead.
The towering, neo-gothic Saint Ita Catholic Church and the elegant, 1920s Edgewater Beach Apartments known for its pink exterior are both architectural symbols of the neighborhood. The Bryn Mawr historic district, with vintage lamp posts and lantern lights, and the mansions throughout the neighborhood are reminders of old opulence.