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Gerri’s Palm Tavern

446 E 47th St.

For decades, Gerri’s Palm Tavern was a hub for entertaining and socializing in the vibrant Bronzeville community. James “Genial Jim” Knight opened the Palm Tavern in 1933 and sold it to Gerri Oliver in 1956. Some of the 20th Century’s greatest Black artists—such as Duke Ellington, James Brown and Dinah Washington—devoured Mississippi native Oliver’s red beans and rice between their sets at the nearby Regal Theater. Along with the famous entertainers and athletes who socialized at the Palm Tavern, its ties to the neighborhood made it a rallying point for voter registration efforts during Harold Washington’s campaign for mayor in 1983. Blues guitarist Fernando Jones staged his musical drama, “I Was There When The Blues Was Red Hot,” at the bar from 1998 until the city government forced its closing in 2001. About 13 years later, another blues musician, Billy Branch, paid tribute to Oliver through his song, “Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time.”

– A.C. 

Caption: Former location of Gerri's Palm Tavern. 

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