North Lawndale


North Lawndale's tumultuous history parallels Chicago's sweeping story of immigration, economic booms and deindustrialization, racial transition and conflict, and persistent community and political activism. The virtually empty prairie of the mid-19th century developed into a vibrant Jewish neighborhood and industrial center by the 1920s, became an almost entirely African American community in the post-World War II decades, and, between the 1940s and 1990s, lost two-thirds of its population and the majority of its industry. Vestiges of all of these changes remain in the monumental buildings along Douglas Boulevard and the extensive stock of Greystone housing. African-American residents have endured through segregation and economic decline, building community networks and fighting to bring housing, jobs, private investment, and public services to the area. Although residents continue to struggle with the problems of a largely poor urban community, activists and developers have had some success, making North Lawndale a nationally renowned example of "inner city" revitalization.

*Chicago Freedom Movement House
*Douglas Park Field House
*Jewish Peoples Institute
*Lawndale for Better Jobs
*Marcy Center
*Original Sears Tower
*Reverend Martin Luther King Jr Chicago Apartment
*Roosevelt Road and 1968 Riots
*Ryerson Steel
*Theodore Herzl Public School

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