Making a Real Difference
“Boxville”, located at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line, is Chicago’s first shipping container mall and street food market. Serving Bronzeville residents and visitors with a mix of everyday essentials and unique products, Boxville builds community while offering local entrepreneurs affordable spaces for building their enterprises.
Boxville was created to provide a fun and engaging destination in Bronzeville and deliver local, accessible entrepreneurship and job opportunities to young people in order to increase economic mobility, revitalize our community, and break Chicago’s cycle of violence.
The lack of legitimate economic opportunities is the most important problem facing communities of color in Chicago. Decades-long disinvestment has resulted in joblessness of half of black male adults, record teen unemployment, and little incentive for youth to invest in education and training. The resulting youth disengagement drives Chicago’s violence epidemic.
Neighborhood challenges… and opportunities
The lack of local amenities, shared spaces, and legitimate economic opportunities drives the disengagement and conflict that mark many of our neighborhoods. Boxville taps into the undeniable talent, creativity, and resilience of Southsiders and the rich culture and commerce of the historic “Black Metropolis” to reengage present-day residents and rebuild Bronzeville as an exciting retail and cultural destination.
A breakout hit in 2017!
In its inaugural season, Boxville hosted 64 locally-owned enterprises and more than 2500 patrons in 16 market sessions. Products ranged from fresh produce, prepared food and streetwear to handmade beauty care items, vintage lifestyle delights and a variety of “maker” products, with musical performances providing the heartbeat of the market. Boxville helped transform 51st Street: a blighted lot became a vibrant marketplace; disconnected residents came together to taste, shop, and dance; and, businesses with no place to go took root and blossomed…or were quickly revised, revamped, and re-positioned!
In 2018, Boxville introduced a host of new opportunities to engage local entrepreneurs, and unveiled the Neighborhood Square, the newest Boxville addition where patrons could enjoy all of the goods from their favorite vendors and relax just beyond the market. Meanwhile, Boxville brought out a range of programs for all ages and interests, from weekly yoga to table tennis tournaments in the new Neighborhood Square, to cultural celebrations such as the week long “Celebrating Bronzeville Legends” event, featuring acclaimed Bronzeville historian and native, Timuel Black! Boxville 2018 provided a greater space to bring together different corners of culture, community, and commerce, and looks forward to doing so again in its 2019 season!
BUILDING A BETTER BOXVILLE—In 2019 we will enhance the Boxville Marketplace by completing existing containers, establishing additional boxes and extending market hours. At the same time, we are working to create an adjacent Neighborhood Square to host the many activities that will never result in profit but are critical to building community. Work with us!