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Savoy Ballroom

4733 S Martin Luther King Dr.

As the Great Migration brought thousands of African Americans to Chicago throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the Savoy Ballroom became a top venue for high-class entertainment in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The Savoy opened in 1927 and had room for 4,000 people while its name reflected a similar dancehall in New York’s Harlem. At the time, the Chicago Defender newspaper marveled at its modern amenities and luxurious furnishings. To keep dancers moving continuously, the venue hired two bands a night throughout the 1930s. Visiting bandleaders included Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Benny Moten as well as Charles Elgar and Clarence Black’s orchestras. Along with music, the Savoy also hosted basketball teams, including a group of South Side players named the Savoy Big Five that later became known as the Harlem Globetrotters. Political rallies and other community events were also staged at the Savoy. After changes throughout the neighborhood the Savoy became vacant and was demolished in 1971.

– A.C. 

Caption: Former location of the Savoy Ballrom.

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