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Section of Balcony Railing, Mecca Apartment Building, Chicago, Illinois

A white iron grille fragment with a webbed ornamental foliage motif.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A white iron grille fragment with a webbed ornamental foliage motif.

Date:

1891/92

Artist:

Edbrooke and Burnham (American, 1879–1892)
Franklin Pierce Burnham (American, 1853-1909)
Willoughby J. Edbrooke (American, 1843-1896)

About this artwork

Designed prior to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1891, the Mecca Apartments featured distinctive interior light courts and balconies with decorative cast-iron railings. The structure became famous for its many afterlives, first as a popular residential building in the heart of a Bronzeville, a prominent African American neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side, with a thriving jazz music scene in the 1920s. The building was immortalized by the song “Mecca Flat Blues” and later a poem “In the Mecca” by Gwendolyn Brooks from 1968. By the 1950s the aging Mecca Flats was home to a group of residents who fought to preserve it after the building was purchased by the Illinois Institute of Technology. Ultimately unsuccessful, this conflict between the white administration and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—whose S. R. Crown Hall would be built on the site—and the surrounding African American community, encapsulates the broader histories of segregation, modernism, and urban renewal.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Architecture and Design

Artist

Edbrooke and Burnham (Architect)

Title

Section of Balcony Railing, Mecca Apartment Building, Chicago, Illinois

Place

United States (Object made in)

Date

1891–1892

Medium

Painted cast iron

Dimensions

29 3/8 × 41 3/4 in.

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon P. Reynolds

Reference Number

1972.306

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/38861/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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