Bronzeville Spotlight: Victory Monument
As we continue to develop our properties at 4108 S King Drive and 4112 S King Drive, we enjoy putting the spotlight on landmark locations in our historic Bronzeville neighborhood to celebrate and dig more into its rich history. Today, we’re exploring one of the city’s best-known and respected monuments, especially in Chicago’s Black communities, the Victory Monument.
Chicago’s Victory Monument, which stands near the intersection of King Drive and East 35th Street, was built in 1927 in honor of the all-Black, Eighth Infantry Regiment of The Illinois National Guard, whose members served during WWI under the French. Created by the French American sculptor, Leonard Crunelle, the monument’s main structure was built in white granite with a bronze doughboy (common nickname for American soldiers during WWI) figure standing on top. That figure of the soldier was added almost ten years after the original construction.
There are three bronze panels around the sides of the monument, each representing elements of Black culture and history of Black soldiers through life-sized figures. The first panel, the Victory Panel, presents a cloaked female figure representing motherhood and holding a branch that symbolizes victory. The second panel, the Columbia Panel, displays another female figure with a helmet on her head holding a tablet engraved with a list of battles that Black soldiers fought in. The last panel, the African-American Soldier Panel, depicts a Black soldier from the Eighth Regiment with an eagle standing at his feet. A fourth bronze panel facing north holds the names of the 137 total members from the Eighth Infantry that lost their lives fighting in WWI.
The monument was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and labeled a Chicago Landmark in 1998. The monument is also home to many annual celebrations and observances including its Memorial Day ceremony and the starting location of the historic, and largest Black parade in the world, the Bud Billiken Parade.
Having been in place for almost 100 years, Victory Monument continues to illuminate and commemorate an important part of history, and is just one of the many special landmarks located in our historic Bronzeville neighborhood.