The Green Book, first published in 1936 under the title "The Negro Motorist Green Book," was a product of the rising African-American middle class having the finances and vehicle for travel but facing a world where social and legal restrictions barred them from many accommodations. At the time, there were thousands of "sundown towns," African-Americans were legally barred from spending the night there at all.
Chicago's Green Book Eras
In cities like Chicago, it would have been near mandatory to carry the Green Book on your person even for celebrities and affluent African-Americans, who were barred from downtown hotels and accommodations all over the city and suburbs based solely on their skin color.
Those traveling any great distance, for business or leisure, faced additional indignities and dangers — or, as Victor H. Green politely said, “difficulties and embarrassments” — that ranged from the commonplace refusal of service at hotels and restaurants to the hazards of sundown towns, where negroes risked harassment, arrest, assault, and even lynchings if they dared to be caught within that city's limits after dark.
At the start of Route 66 in Chicago, the Green Book would have pointed travelers to the listings located in the South Side’s black community called "Bronzeville," which was built by the thousands upon thousands of blacks who flooded the Chicago area as part of the Great Migration (1916-1970).
Confined to a narrow stretch of land by restrictive real estate covenants and redlining and prevented from patronizing whites-only establishments, African-Americans in Chicago responded by creating businesses by themselves, for themselves.
“This community had its own agency. It’s strong testimony that we are business leaders in our own right,” said Sherry Williams, founder of the Bronzeville Historical Society. “It just shows the enterprise that was going on in the neighborhood.”
|The Southway Hotel, 6012 South Parkway, Chicago.|
|The Palm Tavern at 466 East 47th Street in Chicago's Bronzeville Community.|
|The Parkway Ballroom at 420 East 45th Street, Chicago.|
1954 CHICAGO LISTINGS
Albion Hotel, 4009 Lake Park Avenue
Don Hotel, 3337 South Michigan Avenue
Du Sable, 764 East Oakwood Boulevard
Eberhart Hotel, 6050 Eberhart Avenue
Evans Hotel, 733 East 61st Street
Garfield, 231 East Garfield Boulevard
Grand Hotel, 5044 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968] (pictured below)
Hotel Como, 5204-6 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
Loretta, 6201 South Vernon Avenue
Manor House Hotel, 4635 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968] (pictured below)
Pershing Hotel, 6400 Cottage Grove Avenue (pictured below)
Ritz Hotel, 409 East Oakwood Boulevard
S & S, 4142 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
South Central, 520 East 47th Street
Southerland, 47th Street & Drexel Boulevard
Southway Hotel, 6012 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
Spencer Hotel, 300 East Garfield Boulevard
Strand, 63rd Street & Cottage Grove Avenue
Vienna, 3921 South Indiana Avenue
Wedgewood Towers, Woodlawn Avenue at 64th Street (pictured below)
Y.M.C.A., 4559 South Park Way [ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
TOURIST HOMES (BED & BREAKFAST)
Day's, 3616 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
Poro College, 4415 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
A & J, 105 East 51st Street
Morris' 410 E. 47th Street
Parkway Ballroom, 420 East 45th Street
Pioneer, 533 East 43rd Street
Pitts, 812 East 39th Street
Wrights, 3753 South Wabash Avenue
Matties', 4214 South Cottage Grove Avenue
Bank's, 209 East 39th Street
El Casino, 823 East 39th Street
Key Hole, 3965 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
The Palm, 466 East 47th Street
820 Club, 820 East 39th Street
Delux, 6323 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
Show Boat, 6109 South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
Parkway, 340 West Grand Avenue
Standard, Garfield Boulevard & South Park Way [Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Jr. in 1968]
Zephyr, 4535 South Cottage Grove Avenue
Charles Baron, 3840 South Michigan Avenue
Thompson, 545 East 47th Street
Perkin, 419 South State Street
Sam's, 2255 West Madison Street.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.