MILWAUKEE, WI- In the early 1900’s, Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood became an attractive spot for African Americans to relocate from the south, hoping to find ample opportunity for a better life.
That period was known as the Great Migration.
Executive Director of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District Ray Hill says Milwaukee was a hotspot to immigrate to because of the economic opportunity.
“I think it was the jobs and the access; the tanneries, the foundries. We had that industrial feel that my grandparents were looking for when they were leaving the South. There also was a leverage of economic opportunity where African Americans felt that they could start over,” Hill said.
Hill has a deep family connection to Bronzeville. Her grandfather Larry was a successful business owner in the community.
‘Larry’s Lunch-ette’ located on West Walnut was a popular place to enjoy custard in the 1950’s.
“From 1951 to 1959, it was a custard stand that was home to the first illegal cabbing, the first Uber for the African American community. Boxer’s like Joe Lewis would come, Duke Ellington, to help support.”
The business’s tagline was “Where chicken is king and custard is queen.”
“He really created spot and opportunity for young people to come and enjoy themselves in a place where they felt comfortable,” said Hill.
The Bronzeville neighborhood was recently being recognized on a New York Times travel list as one of it’s “52 places for a Changed World” coming in as #49.
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