The City of Chicago's Black Metropolis is a historic site of African American achievement in arts and culture, business and entrepreneurship, politics, sports, and recreation. The area stretches from the city's South Loop to Woodlawn (18th Street to the north, 71st street to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, and Canal Street to the west). The assemblage of natural, historic, educational, and recreational resources forms a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape that is worth preserving. The area also serves as memorial to the Great Migration of 1910-20, a demographic movement in which approximately 500,000 African Americans migrated north in search of employment and improved life opportunities.
The Bronzeville Community Development Partnership, along with numerous community partners, decided to preserve its unique landscape and assets through a National Heritage Area (NHA) designation application. CMAP's Local Technical Assistance program helped the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission and the City of Chicago Historic Preservation Division do feasibility study that explored a number of important factors that will inform whether or not a NHA designation is the best way to achieve conservation, preservation, and economic development goals.
The study also provided the U.S. Congress with information regarding the appropriateness of designating the area as a NHA. NHA recognition, conferred by Congress, denotes a nationally distinctive landscape shaped by natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources. These areas tell nationally important stories through geography, natural, and cultural resources, and the traditions that have evolved within the landscapes. The feasibility study will support the submittal of an application to the National Park Service for NHA status.