Department of History

Mapping Chicago’s 1919 race riots

On the afternoon of July 27, 1919, Eugene Williams drifted across an imaginary color line in the water at 29th Street Beach. Soon, white residents began throwing stones, preventing the black teenager from coming ashore. His drowning sparked the largest race riots Chicago has ever seen—a week that saw 38 deaths and hundreds of injuries. A century later, a University of Chicago scholar and a team of students have helped shed light on that painful but oft-overlooked part of history—one that...