Congress has sent President Joe Biden a bill to sign establishing Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community as a National Heritage Area.

The Senate unanimously approved the creation of the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area this month which was included in the National Heritage Area Act that the House passed on a 326-95 roll call.

Photos of Bronzeville in the early 20th century (Courtesy: WendyCity, University of Chicago)

According to the legislation, the area’s boundaries would run from Lake Michigan on the east to Wentworth Avenue between 18th Street and 22nd Street; the Dan Ryan Expressway between 22nd Street and 35th Street; and Stewart Avenue between 35th Street and 47th Street.

Farther south, the area will be bordered by 47th Street, 55th Street, Cottage Grove Avenue, and the Dan Ryan and run from 55th Street to 67th between State Street and Cottage Grove; with the southern boundary from 67th Street to 71st Street between Cottage Grove and the Metra tracks on the east.

Paula Robinson, president of the Black Metropolis National Heritage Commission said the national heritage area would also honor “The Great Migration” of approximately 500,000 African-Americans from the South to northern cities during the early 20th Century. “For us, the congressional designation basically allows us to tell the story of this whole cultural landscape,” Robinson told the Sun-Times.

The designation also makes up to $1 million a year in federal funding available to preservation and development efforts in Bronzeville, for up to 15 years.

There are 55 National Heritage Areas; Bronzeville would be the third in Illinois, along with the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Cover Photo: The City of Neighborhoods Project

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