Crafting Your Experience

ChicagoHistory
Newberry Library

Chicago 1919 Race Riots Bike Tour

Take this 10-mile bike ride through the South Side neighborhoods where long-simmering racial tensions erupted in violence during the summer of 1919. At the end of the race riots, 38 people were killed and more than 500 Chicagoans were injured. And as the memory of the racial violence receded, institutionalized racism became even more entrenched in Chicago. The self-guided tour starts at 29th Street and the lakefront—where the 1919 Chicago Race Riots began after Eugene Williams, a Black teenager, was killed by a white beachgoer for crossing an invisible racial barrier in Lake Michigan. From there, you'll visit other sites of historical significance that will help you visualize the past and feel its impact on the city today. Where did the events of 1919 take place? How have neighborhoods changed over time? Where do you see boundaries and segregation as you ride? How can you see the legacy of the race riots in the city’s built environment?

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