Your NPR news source

History of West Woodlawn

SHARE History of West Woodlawn

In the first half of the 20th century, Chicago's West Woodlawn neighborhood was an oasis in a sea of prejudice for black families on the south side, where most African-Americans were concentrated in Bronzeville. The residents of the neighborhood bordered by 63rd and 69th streets (on the north and south) and Cottage Grove and King Drive (then called South Parkway) from east to west had everything they needed in a single square mile area, including three churches and a school.

That “Tight Little Island” provides the name for a new collection of first-person stories from inhabitants compiled by the Reverend Robert Polk, whose family lived in the neighborhood for more than 60 years.

Richard Steele spoke recently with Reverend Polk, and we also invited some of the book's contributors into our studio to share their stories from the book Tight Little Island. Reverend Polk says no one is one-hundred-percent sure how black families first made their way into West Woodlawn, but there's one likely theory.

More From This Show