I chanced upon the Mecca Flat Blues Exhibit inside Chicago Cultural Center through its music. I was trying to find my way back to the stained glass Tiffany dome, when I heard this catchy and very inviting jazzy tune. So, I followed the sound and it led me to the Sidney R. Yates Gallery where the exhibit is housed.
Stepping inside, the exhibit lets you relive the old glory days of the Mecca Flats as well as its downfall. The exhibit features oversized historical photographs of the apartment that once stood on 34th and State Streets in Bronzeville. There were also sketches, news clippings, advertisements, and quotes that depict the way of life in what was once called “The Strangest Place in Chicago” by Harper’s Magazine.
The Mecca Flats was a hotel built in 1891 for the World’s Expo in 1893. It eventually became a hub for African-Americans during the great migration in Chicago. The building was demolished in 1952 to make way for the campus expansion of Illinois Institute of Technology.
Mecca Flats was the inspiration for the 1924 classic “Mecca Flat Blues” by Priscilla Stewart and Jimmy Blythe and for the poem “In the Mecca” by Gwendolyn Brooks.
The Mecca Flat Blues exhibit will run until May 25 and is free and open to the public. For more details about the exhibit, visit the Chicago Cultural Center website.