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Map: Ventra suggests Black history landmarks on the South Side you can visit by transit

Ventra provided a list of African-American historical sites, mostly on or near King Drive, and not far from the Green Line. Streetsblog created an interactive map to help you find them.

Screenshot of Streetsblog’s map of South Side Black history sites suggested by Ventra, which you can access via the Green Line. See an interactive version of this map near the end of this post. Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps

This post is sponsored by Ride Illinois.

In honor of Black History Month, Chicagoland's Ventra – the electronic fare payment system for the CTA, Metra, and Pace – is selling a Black History Month Signature Ventra Card, inspired by African-American trailblazers with local ties. They're also suggesting Black history landmarks you visit by transit on the South Side, mostly locations on or near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, not far from Green Line stations.

"Chicago’s buses, trains and roadways link us to a long line of African American movers and shakers from across the nation, including Garrett A. Morgan, the brilliant mind who gave us the traffic light, and Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader who famously refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” Ventra said on its Black History Month webpage. "Also, let’s not forget our local legends who helped remind us that every seat has a story and every route has a history. Join us in this joyous and enlightening celebration as we honor the legacy and spirit of the African American community that’s helped shape our transit system and our lives."

Astronaut Mae Jemison; journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, aviator Bessie Coleman, and Chicago founder Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. Image: Ventra

"Through CTA’s various platforms including signature Ventra Cards, a dedicated Ventra video and website, and social media campaigns, CTA was eager to celebrate Black History Month and the use of transit to access the many important Black cultural locations and sites throughout Chicago," a spokesperson for the transit center told Streetsblog. "CTA led the development of the Ventra Black History Month marketing campaign with our contractor Rudd Resources, a Chicago-based and Black-owned marketing firm. Rudd helped to conceptualize and design the artwork for this card design and overall campaign to commemorate Black History Month."

According to the Ventra Twitter account, "The designer used a variety of design tools and programs, including [artificial intelligence], in the design process.

Ventra's list of Black history landmarks has directions on how to reach them by CTA buses and trains, or Metra commuter rail. These locations include the Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, in honor of Mae Jemison, a Chicago native who became the first African-American astronaut to travel to space. You can reach the Planetarium taking the Red, Orange, or Green 'L' lines to Roosevelt Station and transferring to the CTA's 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express or 130 Museum Campus buses.

A bike ride visits the Light of Truth Ida B. Wells National Monument in Ellis Park, 3729 S. Langley Ave. Photo: Cameron Bolton

Another landmark listed is the Ida B. Wells-Barnett House, 3624 S. Martin Luther King Dr., which you can get to by taking the Green Line to 35th Street or the 35th Street bus. Wells-Barnett was a prominent civil rights activist and suffrage activist. You can also visit the Light of Truth Ida B. Wells National Monument in Ellis Park, in Ellis Park, 3729 S. Langley Ave., accessible via the 4 Cottage Grove bus.

The "Letter to Bessie Coleman," sculpture by Bernard Williams, located on the lakefront near Pershing Road. Photo: Chicago Park District

A third landmark is the "Letter to Bessie Coleman," sculpture by Bernard Williams, which honors the first African American woman to hold a pilot's license. It’s located on the lakefront near the east end of Pershing Road, which you can reach via the 39 Pershing bus. A fourth landmark is the DuSable Museum of African American History, which celebrates Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who established Chicago’s first permanent settlement. You can access the museum via the Green or Red line's Garfield stops or the Metra Electric District's 55th-56th-57th Street Station, plus the 55 Garfield bus.

Here's Streetsblog’s map of South Side Black history sites suggested by Ventra, which you can access via the Green Line. Click on the square at the upper-right to see a full-sized version of the map. Click on the black icons for more information about the sites and directions.

Other locations Ventra mentioned in honor of Black History Month, featured on the above interactive Streetsblog map, are the former site of Gerri Oliver’s Palm Tavern, the Lorraine Hansberry House, Oscar Stanton De Priest’s House, Olivet Baptist Church, Pilgrim Baptist Church, the South Side Community Art Center, the former locations of the Sunset Cafe, Quinn Chapel AME Church, Unity Hall, and the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, which is currently closed for construction.

Zaira Torres, Community Mobility Ritual manager from the mobility justice nonprofit Equiticty, said her organization is "really loving" the Ventra Black history project. She also had a couple of recommendations for landmarks that transit users could visit on the West Side.

Del-Kar Pharmacy, 3726 W. 16th St. in North Lawndale. Image: Google Maps

"In the North Lawndale community [where Equiticity is based] we have the MLK Legacy Apartments [at the site where] Martin Luther King Jr. lived during the civil rights movement," Torres said. "The address is 1550 S. Hamlin Ave. Not too far from there on 16th street you can also find Del-Kar [Drugs, 3726 W. 16th St.] which MLK would walk to every morning to get his morning newspaper. Its pretty awesome because the original owner's son still owns it and it looks very vintage in there. When he has the capacity he is more than happy to chat with people who want to learn about the rich history of 16th street." You can reach this part of town via the Pink Line's Pulaski or Central Park stations.

It's about a 15-minute walk or five-minute bike ride from the Pink Link's Central Park station to the MLK Legacy Apartments and Del-Kar Drugs.

For more info on the South Side landmarks, visit the Ventra Black History Month webpage.

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