The Major Taylor Trail mural, painted by Chicago artist Bernard Williams, honors world champion African-American cyclist Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor.
The Major Taylor Trail mural was completed in June 2018, marking where the trail crosses the Little Calumet River. Since the completion of the mural, the Major Taylor Trail project has received widespread recognition. This year, the Community and Neighborhood Improvement Project (CNIP) and their partners are continuing to improve the trail experience while raising awareness of Major Taylor’s legacy and the Trail. Read on to learn more about the project’s accolades and current work.
The mural was unveiled at a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebratory 5k run and 10th Anniversary bike ride. The event was attended by community residents, Major Taylor Cycling Club of Chicago and Minnesota riders, funders, and even a great-great-grandson of Major Taylor.
Best South Side Attraction
In the weeks following it’s unveiling, the Major Taylor Trail mural received positive press, being cited by South Side Weekly as one of the best Riverdale & West Pullman attractions of 2018. Stories about the mural were also featured in Next City and The Chicago Citizen, among others.
Dr. Brenda Dixon (blue), members of the Major Taylor Trail Cycling Club of Minnesota (yellow), artist Bernard Williams (grey), and members of Major Taylor's Family (red, black), stand in front of the Major Taylor Trail mural.
Chicago Community Trust Our Great Rivers Grant Renewal
In a testament to the success of CNIP’s environmental and aesthetic improvement efforts along the MTT, the Chicago Community Trust announced the renewal of their support through a 2018 Our Great Rivers Grant. This generous support is in addition to the 2017 Our Great Rivers grant that funded the installation of Major Taylor Mural, and will help to fund additional CNIP efforts into the future. The $70,000 grant is one of 11 Our Great Rivers Grants announced by the Trust last September and will continue to fund projects that demonstrate creative and unique approaches to river activation and highlight a hunger for cultural inclusion along the riverfronts.
Trails and the Arts Award
The Major Taylor Trail mural was recently awarded the American Trails 2019 Trails and the Arts Award The award “recognizes the integration of art with the trail experience including outstanding public art works, interpretive signs, or other creative structures, sounds, or even smells associated with trail related enhancement.” The ultimate goal of the Our Great Rivers vision is to connect people to their river system, and American Trails succinctly summarizes the mural’s contribution to that goal. “It is an example of public art that does much more than improve aesthetics, it gives trail users a chance to interpret cultural history and thus a reason to stop and appreciate the Little Calumet River.”
Chicago Sculpture Exhibit Installation
Adding to art installations available for rider’s enjoyment along the Major Taylor Trail, the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit has generously donated a sculpture to be placed near 111th Street. The sculpture was installed earlier this spring near a newly installed Park District seating area and will be at the location for approximately one year. CNIP hopes to install a permanent sculpture of Major Taylor at the site in the future.
Through vital community partnerships, projects along the Major Taylor Trail continue to build upon the goals and vision laid out in Our Great Rivers. Stay tuned for additional progress updates throughout 2019 and beyond!
Courtesy Major Taylor Cycling Club Chicago
The new statue at 111th St and the Major Taylor Trail.
Our Great Rivers / Great Rivers Chicago: MPC’s Blogs and highlights on Our Great Rivers are made possible in large part by the Chicago Community Trust, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Union Pacific Foundation, BNSF Corporation, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ArcellorMittal, Comcast Corporation, and individual donors.