The 4600 Block of North Winthrop in Uptown

1939 Block Club Committee

1939 Block Club Committee. Image courtesy Cheryl Clark.

Celebrating 100 Years of History in August 2006!

Their last names included Austin, Lewis, Gray, Thurman, McKeevers, Millers, Frances, Hall, Baker, and Jones. Coming from Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky, they were among the first Black families to migrate to the Uptown Neighborhood of Chicago in search of a better life. The 4600 block of Winthrop became home to many of them. Back in the days of legal segregation, it was one of the few—maybe the only—places in Uptown where African Americans were allowed to live.

In her book Legends and Landmarks of Uptown, author Jacki Lyden notes that in 1940:

The Central Uptown Chicago Association spent $14,000 to get a city restriction which said that “No Negro person can buy, own, or rent property in this district except on that block which is inhabited entirely by Negros.” That block was a hideaway corner of Winthrop Avenue between Wilson and Leland Avenues. A black chauffer, whose employer left him a home on the block in his will, was the first to live there. Rollins Lambert, the first black priest ordained by the Archdiocese of Chicago, also lived there for a while.

In order to obtain a legal injunction, the Central Uptown Chicago Association needed 90% of the neighborhood’s property owners to sign a petition. It took several years to collect the necessary number of signatures, since many property owners lived outside the neighborhood.

Winthrop Avenue Reunion

Winthrop Avenue Reunion. Image courtesy Cheryl Clark.

The Uptown neighborhood has come a long way since that time, and today proudly celebrates its ethnic and cultural diversity.

This August, former residents of the 4600 block are “Going Back to The Avenue” for the Winthrop Avenue Family Reunion. Past and current residents of The Avenue invite fellow Uptowners to share in the celebration.

The reunion began when residents realized that as the neighborhood changed, people would move away and only come back for funerals or other tragedies. The reunions are a way to catch up with one another, meet new family members, and share stories of what it was like to grow up in Uptown.

Where: 4600 Block of North Winthrop Avenue

When: Saturday, August 19, 2006 from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm

What: It’s a block party, so bring your picnic-style lunch, folding chairs, etc. The organizing party will provide comfort stations, music, fun, games, and entertainment.

Parking Parking is available at three locations. 1) Leland and Winthrop Avenue, Colliers’ Lot, 2) Steward School Lot, 3) Wilson Avenue and Kenmore next to the McDonalds.

Cost: $5.00 for children 3 to 12 years old; $8.00 for adults 13 and up.

Winthrop Avenue Reunion

Judson Jenkins (left), one of the first two Blacks appointed to the Narcotic Squad. Gilbert Austin (right), a professional middle weight champion boxer. Image courtesy Cheryl Clark.

Chronicling Uptown’s History

If you have any stories, images, or photos of the 4600 Block of Winthrop (or any other part of Uptown) that you’d like to share, please drop us a line. You may reach us at:

Compass Rose Cultural Crossroads, Inc.
PO Box 409095
Chicago, IL 60640-9095

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