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August 9, 2022

38 Fascinating Vintage Photographs Capture Life of Black Communities in Chicago in 1973

In 1973 photographer John H. White, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Photojournalism in 1982, was asked by the Environmental Protection Agency’s DOCUMERICA project to photograph Chicago – especially the city’s African-American community. White would later say that he saw it as “an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history”.

White went on to be a photographer for the Chicago Sun Times in 1978 and continued there until 2013 when the newspaper laid off its entire photojournalism department.

In White’s own words these amazing photographs catch the “spirit, love, zeal, pride and hopes” of the African-American community of Chicago.

Women in wigs at the Bud Billiken Parade.

Chicago ghetto on the South Side.

Mother and daughter returning home after a grocery shopping expedition in Chicago’s West Side.

At the George Westinghouse High School.

Family enjoying the summer weather at Chicago’s 12th Street Beach on Lake Michigan.

Woman enjoys her summer outing at Chicago’s 12th Street Beach on Lake Michigan.

Lake Meadows Shopping Center on Chicago’s South Side.

Lake Meadows Shopping Center on Chicago’s South Side.

Band performs at the Lake Meadows Shopping Center.

Graffiti on a wall in Chicago. Such writing has advanced and become an art form, particularly in metropolitan areas.

Scene in South Side Chicago on 47th Street, a busy thoroughfare where many small Black businesses are located many of the city’s Black business owners started with small operations and grew with hard work.

Street scene on 47th Street in South Side Chicago, a busy area where many small Black businesses are located.

Street scene on 47th Street in South Side Chicago, a busy area where many small Black businesses are located.

A student at the Westinghouse Industrial Vocation School on Chicago’s West Side.

Ghetto street scene in Chicago on the South Side.

A Black man operating a newsstand in Chicago on the West Side. The city is believed to be the Black business capital of the United States.

Black youths play basketball at Stateway Gardens’ Highrise Housing Project on Chicago’s South Side.

Black residents on one of the balconies of the Robert Taylor Homes, a low-income highrise apartment building in Chicago.

Black youngsters outside the Stateway Gardens Highrise Housing Project on Chicago’s South Side.

Children play outside the Ida B. Wells Homes, one of Chicago’s oldest housing projects. There are 1,652 apartments housing 5,920 persons in 124 buildings on the South Side.

Black community older housing on Chicago’s West Side. This area in 1973 had not quite recovered from the riots and fires during the mid and late 1960’s.

Black community older housing on Chicago’s West Side. This area in 1973 had not quite recovered from the riots and fires during the mid and late 1960’s.

Empty housing in the ghetto On Chicago’s South Side structures such as this have been systematically vacated as a result of fires, vandalism or failure by owners to provide basic tenant services.

Once one of Chicago’s busy thoroughfares, 63rd Street has changed with the character of the city.

Washington Park on Chicago’s South Side where many Black families enjoy picnicking during the summer.

Worshippers at Holy Angel Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side. It is the city’s largest Black Catholic Church. The pastor is Father George H. Clements, a leader in the Black community.

Black neighbors outside on Chicago’s West Side. They are part of the nearly 1.2 million people of their race who make up more than one-third of Chicago’s population.

Artist Ron Blackburn.

Artist Ron Blackburn painting an outdoor wall mural at the corner Of 33rd and Giles Street.

Street scene in West Side Chicago. This area was slow to recover from the riots and fires of the mid and late 1960’s.

Sidewalk merchandise on Chicago’s South Side.

Black men at the entrance to a pool hall where they hang around Daily, located on Roosevelt Road in the heart of the ghetto on Chicago’s West Side.

A black man who is jobless sits on the windowsill of a building in a high crime area on Chicago’s South Side, he has nothing to do and nowhere to go.

Youngsters performing on an empty lot at 5440 South Princeton Avenue on Chicago’s South Side.

Youngsters performing on an empty lot at 5440 South Princeton Avenue on Chicago’s South Side.

South Side group of Black children in Chicago at a playground at 40th and Drexel Boulevard.

Bud Billiken Day Parade along Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Drive on Chicago’s South Side up to half a million people view, one of the largest annual events of the year.

Members of Chicago’s South Side Black community line a portion of Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Drive to watch the Annual Bud Billiken Day Parade.

(via Flashbak)




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