clock menu more-arrow no yes
Shutterstock

Chicago Pride: 10 historic LGBTQ sites to visit

These Chicago sites played major roles in the history of the LGBTQ movement

View as Map

Each June, thousands of people descend on Chicago for Pride month. In Chicago, the Boystown neighbor serves as the epicenter of festivities, culminating with a massive parade on Sunday, June 30. But there are lots of other locations throughout the city that played vital roles in Chicago’s LGBTQ rights movement. Whether you’re a local or just in town for Pride, be sure to check out these 10 historic sites.

Know an important location that needs to be added to the list? Please let us know in the comments below. Heading to Pride and looking for the best places to eat, drink, and party all month long? Be sure to check out this handy guide from Eater Chicago.

Read More

1. The Legacy Walk

Copy Link
3245-3704 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657

Located in the heart of Boystown in the Lakeview neighborhood, the Legacy Walk is the world’s only outdoor LGBTQ history museum. Its 20 rainbow pylons and bronze plaques recognizing significant individuals were installed along Halsted Street between Belmont Avenue to Grace Street in 1997, and could soon become a protected Chicago landmark. The stretch got more colorful this summer with the recent addition of 14 rainbow-painted crosswalks. Explore the Legacy Walk on your own or with a guided tour—just don’t expect to get very far through the crowds if you try during Sunday’s parade.

2. Andersonville’s “Girlstown”

Copy Link
Andersonville
Chicago, IL

While best known for its Swedish heritage, the Andersonville neighborhood is home to a diverse population of Chicagoans and serves as an LGBTQ hub, especially for lesbians. Once referred to as the female equivalent of Boystown, “Girlstown” has seen a decline in its lesbian population in recent years, but many of the neighborhood’s lesbian-centric businesses remain including feminist bookstore Women & Children First.

Lauren LaBorde/Curbed

3. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Copy Link
800 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 413-5353
Visit Website

This landmark mansion in Chicago’s Little Italy serves as a memorial to the memory and legacy of Jane Addams (1860–1935). As a social reformer, pacifist, suffragette, feminist, and a lesbian—though some debate the use of the label—Addams fought for the rights of the disenfranchised and championed causes like child labor, public health, and race relations. She was also the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Addams was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2008.

4. Margaret C. Anderson Home

Copy Link
837 W Ainslie St
Chicago, IL 60640

Located on Ainslie Street, this Uptown property was the former home of lesbian publisher Margaret C. Anderson (1886-1973), who founded the avant-garde literary magazine The Little Review in 1914. Anderson and her lover Jane Heap co-edited the publication which featured the works of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and others. A Chicago Tribune Marker of Distinction stands outside Anderson’s former Ainslie Street residence.

5. Henry Gerber House

Copy Link
1704 N Crilly Ct
Chicago, IL 60614

LGBTQ pioneer Henry Gerber lived in this stone row house in Chicago’s Old Town Triangle between 1924 and 1925. It was during this time that Gerber founded the nation’s first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights. Its “Friendship and Freedom” newsletter was considered the first documented gay rights publication in the country, according to the plaque outside the landmarked residence. The organization was short lived, and Gerber moved to New York after police raided his Chicago home.

6. Lorraine Hansberry House

Copy Link
6140 S Rhodes Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

In Woodlawn, you’ll find the childhood home of famous Chicago-born playwright Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965). Hansberry went on the write A Raisin in the Sun, the first Broadway play penned by an African American woman. In the 1950s, she identified herself as a lesbian and joined the organization the Daughters of Bilitis where she frequently contributed to its newsletter. The South Side property was designated a Chicago landmark in 2010.

7. Site of the former Warehouse Club

Copy Link
206 S Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60661

This unassuming three-story building at 206 W. Jefferson Street was once home to the Warehouse club. Founded in 1977, the venue is considered the birthplace of house music—a genre that is said to get its very name from the Warehouse. In its late 70s and early 80s heyday, resident DJ Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014) popularized a new style of music by remixing disco and European electronica. All were welcome at the Warehouse, but the club was particularly popular among gay black men. The city renamed the block “Frankie Knuckles Way” in 2004.

8. Leather Archives and Museum

Copy Link
6418 N Greenview Ave
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 761-9200
Visit Website

Hidden inside a benign-looking exterior on a quiet side street in Rogers Park, Chicago’s Leather Archives and Museum bills itself as a library, museum, and archives “pertaining to leather, fetishism, sadomasochism, and alternative sexual practices.” While around 65% of the museum’s exhibited content directly addresses the LGBTQ community, people of all races, sexual orientations, and abilities are represented in the exhibits, according to Choose Chicago’s LGBTQ travel itinerary.

9. Gerber/Hart Library

Copy Link
6500 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 381-8030
Visit Website

Also located in Rogers Park, the Gerber/Hart Library is the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ circulating library with over 14,000 volumes, 800 periodical titles, and 100 archival collections. Founded in 1981, the nonprofit facility also hosts programs and temporary exhibits. Current exhibitions include a look back at the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots titled Out of the Closets & into the Street: Power, Pride & Resistance in Chicago’s Gay Liberation Movement as well as a collection of historic LGBTQ slogan and Pride parade pins.

10. AIDS Garden Chicago

Copy Link
141 W Diversey Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60657

In many ways, Chicago’s LGBTQ legacy is still an open book with new chapters being added all the time. This lakefront garden, dedicated to Chicago’s fight against HIV and AIDS, is still in the works. Located next to the Belmont Rocks—a meeting place for Chicago’s LGBTQ community for decades—the new green space is expected to open later this year. For more information and opportunities to support the project, check out the AIDS Garden Chicago website.

Loading comments...

1. The Legacy Walk

3245-3704 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

Located in the heart of Boystown in the Lakeview neighborhood, the Legacy Walk is the world’s only outdoor LGBTQ history museum. Its 20 rainbow pylons and bronze plaques recognizing significant individuals were installed along Halsted Street between Belmont Avenue to Grace Street in 1997, and could soon become a protected Chicago landmark. The stretch got more colorful this summer with the recent addition of 14 rainbow-painted crosswalks. Explore the Legacy Walk on your own or with a guided tour—just don’t expect to get very far through the crowds if you try during Sunday’s parade.

3245-3704 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657

2. Andersonville’s “Girlstown”

Andersonville, Chicago, IL
Lauren LaBorde/Curbed

While best known for its Swedish heritage, the Andersonville neighborhood is home to a diverse population of Chicagoans and serves as an LGBTQ hub, especially for lesbians. Once referred to as the female equivalent of Boystown, “Girlstown” has seen a decline in its lesbian population in recent years, but many of the neighborhood’s lesbian-centric businesses remain including feminist bookstore Women & Children First.

Andersonville
Chicago, IL

3. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

800 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60607

This landmark mansion in Chicago’s Little Italy serves as a memorial to the memory and legacy of Jane Addams (1860–1935). As a social reformer, pacifist, suffragette, feminist, and a lesbian—though some debate the use of the label—Addams fought for the rights of the disenfranchised and championed causes like child labor, public health, and race relations. She was also the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Addams was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2008.

800 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60607

4. Margaret C. Anderson Home

837 W Ainslie St, Chicago, IL 60640

Located on Ainslie Street, this Uptown property was the former home of lesbian publisher Margaret C. Anderson (1886-1973), who founded the avant-garde literary magazine The Little Review in 1914. Anderson and her lover Jane Heap co-edited the publication which featured the works of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and others. A Chicago Tribune Marker of Distinction stands outside Anderson’s former Ainslie Street residence.

837 W Ainslie St
Chicago, IL 60640

5. Henry Gerber House

1704 N Crilly Ct, Chicago, IL 60614

LGBTQ pioneer Henry Gerber lived in this stone row house in Chicago’s Old Town Triangle between 1924 and 1925. It was during this time that Gerber founded the nation’s first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights. Its “Friendship and Freedom” newsletter was considered the first documented gay rights publication in the country, according to the plaque outside the landmarked residence. The organization was short lived, and Gerber moved to New York after police raided his Chicago home.

1704 N Crilly Ct
Chicago, IL 60614

6. Lorraine Hansberry House

6140 S Rhodes Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

In Woodlawn, you’ll find the childhood home of famous Chicago-born playwright Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965). Hansberry went on the write A Raisin in the Sun, the first Broadway play penned by an African American woman. In the 1950s, she identified herself as a lesbian and joined the organization the Daughters of Bilitis where she frequently contributed to its newsletter. The South Side property was designated a Chicago landmark in 2010.

6140 S Rhodes Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

7. Site of the former Warehouse Club

206 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60661

This unassuming three-story building at 206 W. Jefferson Street was once home to the Warehouse club. Founded in 1977, the venue is considered the birthplace of house music—a genre that is said to get its very name from the Warehouse. In its late 70s and early 80s heyday, resident DJ Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014) popularized a new style of music by remixing disco and European electronica. All were welcome at the Warehouse, but the club was particularly popular among gay black men. The city renamed the block “Frankie Knuckles Way” in 2004.

206 S Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60661

8. Leather Archives and Museum

6418 N Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

Hidden inside a benign-looking exterior on a quiet side street in Rogers Park, Chicago’s Leather Archives and Museum bills itself as a library, museum, and archives “pertaining to leather, fetishism, sadomasochism, and alternative sexual practices.” While around 65% of the museum’s exhibited content directly addresses the LGBTQ community, people of all races, sexual orientations, and abilities are represented in the exhibits, according to Choose Chicago’s LGBTQ travel itinerary.

6418 N Greenview Ave
Chicago, IL 60626

9. Gerber/Hart Library

6500 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60626

Also located in Rogers Park, the Gerber/Hart Library is the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ circulating library with over 14,000 volumes, 800 periodical titles, and 100 archival collections. Founded in 1981, the nonprofit facility also hosts programs and temporary exhibits. Current exhibitions include a look back at the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots titled Out of the Closets & into the Street: Power, Pride & Resistance in Chicago’s Gay Liberation Movement as well as a collection of historic LGBTQ slogan and Pride parade pins.

6500 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60626

10. AIDS Garden Chicago

141 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60657

In many ways, Chicago’s LGBTQ legacy is still an open book with new chapters being added all the time. This lakefront garden, dedicated to Chicago’s fight against HIV and AIDS, is still in the works. Located next to the Belmont Rocks—a meeting place for Chicago’s LGBTQ community for decades—the new green space is expected to open later this year. For more information and opportunities to support the project, check out the AIDS Garden Chicago website.

141 W Diversey Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60657