For 75 years, starting in 1897, The Forum’s muscular presence at 43rd Street and the “El”, its distinctive “Forum Hall”, and six generously sized retail slots made it a South Side Hub for prominent performers, powerful politicians, parties and partygoers, and peddlers and patrons of all persuasions.
Nat King Cole played Forum Hall. Captain Walter Dyett directed the Pilgrim Baptist Church orchestra in it. It gave legendary bassist Milt Hinton his start and provided a key stage for many other jazz greats. It hosted the Annual Convention of the Elks, soirees of Green Donkeys and Kute Kittens, beauty contests, boxing, and everything in between. It was an organizing center for the labor movement, radical groups, and Civil Rights activists.
All the while, it provided a range of retail offerings from fresh fruit and vegetables to some of the South Side’s best barbecue, from ballroom dancing instruction to Japanese tea. Though the Dark Days of Bronzeville silenced The Forum, it stood tall, defying the elements, grime and crime, and the departure of three quarters of the community’s residents.
Now, after a four decade hiatus, Urban Juncture is working to bring it back.
We need The Forum to be, as before, a catalyst for the social, political, and economic development of Bronzeville.
Work has begun. We’ve replaced loose masonry, repaired sievelike roofs, and removed mountains of debris. History has taught us how The Forum served our community in the past. It will take commitment, community, and time. With a great structure, rich history, and strong community support as its base and the El as a lifeline, The Forum will be - once again - a unique resource for neighbors, a ‘go-to’ cultural destination for all, and an engine for community revitalization.
In our effort to complete the stabilization of The Forum, Urban Juncture has launched a crowd-funding opportunity for neighborhood investors through WeFunder. For more information visit our Wefunder profile page : wefunder.com/urbanjuncture