Winter 1995 • Vol. XVII No. 1 Nonfiction |

The Loss of Lyric Space and the Critique of Traditions in Gwendolyn Brooks’s “In the Mecca”

What else is there to say but everything? —In the Mecca, 13 The 1952 razing of Chicago's once magnificent showplace, the Mecca, was an act of erasure, causing Gwendolyn Brooks, by the late 1960s, to reconsider her own location in the tradition of African-American literature. Designed by George Edbrooke, "famous for his ability to utilize aesthetically large spaces" (Williams 60), and built by the D. H. Burnham Company in 1891 for the white wealthy of Chicago, the Mecca became one of the early examples of a multifamily dwelling: . . . During the Columbian Exposition of 1893 it was one of the places in the city that visitors wanted to see. (Later it was still a tourist attraction, but not because of its beauty.)                                      (Williams 60) By 1912, the Mecca housed the black elite of Chicago. After World War I, the building began its decline. By the Great Depression the on

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