Skip to main content

POLIT/AFCNA 234 Black Metropolis: From MLK to Obama: Black Chicago Timeline

1779-1919

1779: Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a free African man of Haitian descent, settles in as the first permanent non-Native settler and founder of what would become Chicago. du Sable settled on the north bank of the Chicago River

 

1817: Illinois' northern border is moved north placing Chicago in Illinois

 

1818: Illinois is admitted into the Union as a free state

 

1819 (to 1865): Black Codes are enforced

 

1833: Chicago is incorporated as a town

 

1837: Chicago is incorporated as a city (LITS Tip: the same year that Mount Holyoke was founded)

 

1840: Fugitive slaves and freedmen establish the first Black community in Chicago

 

1844: Quinn Chapel AME Church is established

 

1848: Illinois and Michigan Canal is completed

 

1865: Union Stockyards open

 

1871: John Jones, the first Black Cook County commissioner, is elected into office 

 

1871: The Great Chicago Fire kills close to 300 people, destroys almost four square miles, and leaves many residents homeless

 

1874: School segregation is outlawed in Chicago

 

1878: Ferdinand Barnett founded The Conservator (first Black newspaper in Chicago)

 

1885: Segregation is outlawed in public spaces in Chicago

 

1885: First signs of policy game emerge

 

1889: Jane Addams establishes Hull House

 

1891: Provident Hospital opens on the South Side (first Black hospital in Chicago)

 

1893: Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair)

 

1893: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (a Black man) performs first successful open heart surgery in America at Provident Hospital

 

1894: Ida Platt becomes the first Black woman to earn her law license in Illinois

 

1895: Ferdinand Barnett sells The Conservator to his wife Ida B. Wells

 

1900: Flow of the Chicago River is reversed

 

1904: Old Settlers Social Club is formed

 

1905: Publisher and editor Robert Sengstacke Abbott debuts The Chicago Defender

 

1908: Jesse Binga opens Binga State Bank (the first Black owned bank in Chicago)

 

1909: Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett introduce the "Plan of Chicago"

 

1911: The Chicago American Giants (an all Black baseball team) is founded

 

1915: Onset of the Great Migration (first wave)

 

1915: Jazz debuts in Chicago

 

1915: Oscar Stanton De Priest is elected as the first Black alderman in Chicago

 

1916: Thomas Andrew Dorsey (father/creator of gospel music) migrates to Chicago

 

1916: The Chicago Urban League is established

 

1919: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 (23 Black people were killed)

 

1919: Joseph Bibb debuts the Chicago Whip ("Don’t Spend Your Money campaign" in the Black Belt)

 

1919: Claude Barnett forms the Associated Negro Press

1920-1975

1920: Mississippi Delta Blues arrives in Chicago

 

1924: Vivian Harsh becomes the Chicago Public Library’s first Black librarian

 

1925: Pullman Porters: Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters Union is formed (first all Black union)

1926: Anthony Overton debuts The Chicago Bee (coins the term "Bronzeville")

 

1926: Harlem Globetrotters is established in Chicago

 

1926: Carter G. Woodson launches Negro History Week, which eventually becomes Black History Month

 

1927: Richard Wright arrives in Chicago

 

1929: The Bud Billiken Parade debuts in Bronzeville

 

1933: A Century of Progress (World’s Fair)

 

1933: Cornelius Coffey and John C. Robinson establish the Challenger Aero Club (airfield to teach Black aviators how to fly at Robbins Airport)

 

1933: William L. Dawson is elected to second ward alderman

 

1937: Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is established

 

1938: First housing projects in Chicago are built (Jane Addams Houses, Lathrop Homes, and the Trumbull Park Homes)

 

1940: Onset of the Great Migration (second wave)

 

1942: Robert Rochon Taylor (great-grandfather of Valerie Jarrett--senior advisor to President Barack Obama) is appointed as the first Black Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority

 

1943: Eric Monte is born (creator of the movie Cooley High and television shows Good Times and What’s Happening!)

 

1945: John H. Johnson debuts Ebony Magazine

 

1945: Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City is published (by Black authors Horace Cayton and St. Clair Drake)

 

1947: Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is established

 

1948: Destination Freedom (radio drama that highlighted achievements of African Americans) debuts on NBC/WMAQ

 

1950: Founding of Chess Records

 

1951: John H. Johnson debuts Jet Magazine

 

1955: Emmett Till is murdered in Money, Mississippi

 

1959: Lorraine Hansberry’s, A Raisin in the Sun, debuts on Broadway

 

1955: Richard J. Daley takes office as mayor

 

1960: The Woodlawn Organization is formed

 

1961: DuSable Museum of African American History is established

 

1964: Jesse Jackson Jr. arrives in Chicago

 

1965: Onset of the new Great Migration (third wave reverse)

 

1966: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King move to/march in Chicago

 

1968: Democratic National Convention (Mayor Daley issues "shoot to kill" order)

 

1968: AfriCobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), a collective of Black artists, is established

 

1968: Afro American Patrolmen’s League, consisting of Black police officers to protect Black communities after Mayor Daley’s shoot to kill order, is established

 

1968: Riots due to the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. break out specifically on the West Side

 

1969: Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party is savagely murdered

 

1970: Don Cornelius debuts Soul Train in Chicago

 

1971: Union Stockyards close

 

1971: Tom Burrell founded Burrell Communications (the nation's largest African American-owned marketing firm)

 

1971: Anna Langford becomes the first Black woman elected to Chicago City Council

 

1971: Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr. starts Rainbow/PUSH on the South Side

 

1972: The first iteration of house music and house culture emerge in the Black gay and bisexual community in South Shore 

 

1972: Mosque Maryam (Temple #2-headquarters of the Nation of Islam) is established in Chicago

 

1972: Hills v. Gautreaux landmark case is decided

 

1973: John H. White is hired by the EPA to take photos of Black Chicago for DOCUMERICA

 

1974: Good Times (TV show about a Black family in Cabrini Green projects) debuts

1974: 974 murders are recorded in Chicago (still the highest number in a calendar year in the city’s history)

1974: Robert Williams, owner of the Warehouse and the Muzic Box, arrives in Chicago

 

1975: Whitney M. Young Magnet High School opens as the city’s first public magnet high school (Former First Lady Michelle Obama's alma mater)

1976-present

1976: Mayor Richard J. Daley dies in office

1977: Frankie Knuckles debuts at US Studios (The Warehouse), the first all-Black and gay club, in Chicago

 

1979: Jane Byrne elected first female mayor of Chicago

 

1979: First jazz fest takes place

 

1979: Disco demolition occurs at Comiskey Park

 

1983: Harold Washington elected first Black mayor of Chicago

 

1984: First blues fest takes place

 

1984: Michael Jordan is drafted to the Chicago Bulls

 

1984: Ben “Benjy” Wilson is murdered

 

1985: Barack Obama arrives in Chicago

 

1986: The Oprah Winfrey Show (filmed in Chicago) debuts nationally

 

1987: Mayor Harold Washington dies in office

 

1987: Juice bar ordinance is passed impacting nightlife culture especially the Black house music and cultural community

 

1987: Eugene Sawyer takes over mayoral office becoming the second Black man to hold the position of mayor of Chicago

 

1989: Richard M. Daley becomes mayor of Chicago

 

1992: DJ Ron Hardy passes away

 

1992: Carol Moseley Braun is elected as the first Black woman to the United States Senate

 

1992: Black youth Dantrell Davis is murdered in Cabrini Green Projects

 

1994: Robert “Yummy” Sandifer is murdered by Black Disciples street gang

 

1994: Common Sense (BKA Common) releases his second album Resurrection putting Chicago hip hop and rap on the map

 

1997: Black youth Girl X is sexually assaulted and brutally beaten in Cabrini Green Projects

 

2000: CHA’s Plan For Transformation is announced to redevelop public housing in the city

 

2008: President-elect Barack Obama delivers acceptance speech in Grant Park

 

2010: McDonald vs. City of Chicago argued, which overturns city handgun ban

 

2011: Rahm Emanuel is elected 44th Mayor of Chicago putting an end to the Daley family regime. He is also the first Jewish mayor of Chicago

 

2011: The last building in the Cabrini Green projects is demolished

 

2013: Mayor Rahm Emanuel closes 50 Chicago Public Schools in predominantly Black and Latinx communities

 

2013: Hadiya Pendleton is murdered a few blocks from President Obama’s home in the Kenwood neighborhood (Michelle Obama attends her funeral)

 

2014: 82 people shot, 14 fatally over July 4 weekend prompting the usage of the term "Chiraq" in mass media to describe violence in the city     

 

2016: Construction begins on new South Side trauma center after 25 years of community protesting

 

2016: CTA announces plans to extend red line train to 130th street providing public transportation to residents on the far South Side of Chicago

 

2016: The Barack Obama Foundation announces plans to build the Barack Obama presidential library in Jackson Park on the South Side

Springshare's information on Accessibility in Libguides - - MHC Accessibility Barriers Form