Giles Armory


Constructed in 1915, this building was home to the "Fighting Eighth," an all-black army regiment. The Eighth Infantry, 370th U.S. National Guard, Illinois, was mustered in 1898, and served under African American officers during both the Spanish-American War and World War I. Prior to the construction of this building, the regiment was housed in a barn at Thirty-seventh Street and Michigan Avenue. The Fighting Eighth became a key point of pride in black Chicago, and important evidence that black Chicagoans had paid the price for equal citizenship. This was the first armory in the United States built for a black military regiment. The armory also served as an important gathering place for black organizations. For example, in February 1936, the National Negro Congress – including laborers, clergy, artists, and seeking an end to the Depression and racial discrimination – convened here, attracting over 8,000 visitors. The NNC helped forge a new working-class oriented leadership and black labor militancy to liberate African Americans. The accompanying photograph shows the approximately 3,000 members of the regiment gathered in front of the armory before they shipped to France in 1915.

Labor Trail





3517 S Giles Ave

Chicago History Museum, ICHi - 07559

Giles Armory, 1915. Chicago History Museum, DN-0064686

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer