Chicago Tribute Markers of Distinction commemorate notable Chicagoans by marking the places where they lived or worked. Since the program started in 1997, 80 markers have been erected. Chicago Tribute Markers articulate the connection between the city of today and the historic individuals and events that continue to shape our world.
A true lesson was in full effect as I set out to photograph Chicago history. While walking through Bronzeville, it was an honor photographing the homes where famous Chicagoans lived in the early 1800's and 1900's. People like Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open-heart surgery in 1893 by closing the wound of a stabbing victim; Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, one of the most gifted performers in Jazz; Nat "King" Cole, who's 1949 hit song,"Mona Lisa" sold more than 3 million copies; The Marx Brothers, who's song and dance routines evolved into the rapid-fire comedy for which they are best known; Ida B. Wells, an advocate for Civil Rights, women's suffrage and economic justice; Robert S. Abbott, newspaper publisher and Chicago Defender founder. Other Chicago Tribute markers found were Louis H. Sullivan, known as the "prophet of modern architecture" and designer of The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago; Bessie Coleman, the first black licensed aviatrix in the world and Richard Wright, novelist and playwright best known for his classics "Native Son" and "Black Boy". In Chatham, I found the former homes of Gospel great, Mahalia Jackson and Thomas A. Dorsey, the "Father of Gospel music" and composer of the enormously popular hit song, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand". A few other South Side homes I found were Pulitzer Prize winning Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Brooks, blues musician Muddy Waters and notorious gangster Al Capone. Capone's old brown 2-flat building didn't have a marker outside, because the neighbors didn't want to bring attention to the block.