The MLK Memorial District & Dr. King Legacy Apartments
On January 26, 1966, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. moved with his wife Coretta and their four children to a third floor apartment at 1550 South Hamlin in the North Lawndale community of Chicago. From North Lawndale, King launched what he called the “action phase” of his agenda. The Chicago campaign was focused on demonstrating racism as a national issue. He led marchers into Marquette Park and into Cicero and declared that “I have never in my life seen such hate … not in Mississippi or Alabama.” He also came to Chicago to show the deplorable living conditions and poverty of African-Americans in the urban north and to display the segregation of housing in northern cities. 1550 S. Hamlin was the only place in the North where Dr. King ever lived.
The brick building where Dr. King and his family resided during their stay in Chicago was damaged in the riots that followed the civil rights leader’s assassination and was later demolished in the 1970s. After some failed attempts at restoration to the area, the historic address of 1550 South Hamlin Ave. became one of approximately 2,000 vacant lots to plague the neighborhood. All that changed in 2006 when plans were put in place by Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC) to turn the plot into an area worthy of Dr. King’s legacy.
To further the community’s vision for sharing its rich history with the world, LCDC began development on the 4-acre site located at 16th and Hamlin, that would become the MLK Memorial District.
The birth of the MLK Memorial District was made possible through contributions by:
- City of Chicago
- The Westside Federation
- Safeway Companies
- Illinois Department of Housing Authority
- MLK District Task Force
- LISC – Chicago
- Steans Family Foundation
- Chicago Historical Museum
- Chicago Youth Centers (Dr. King Home and Historic District Task Force)
- Artist Paul Collins
- Artist Theater Gates
- North Lawndale Community
The MLK Memorial District is compromised of the following components:
The Dr. King Legacy Apartments, affordable rental units, and the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center are the first phase of the MLK District built to honor Dr. King’s work for fair housing.
Plans to add additional community features and amenities are on-going in Dr. King’s memory.