Pryor was raised in his grandmother’s brothel on this unassuming block in the heart of Peoria’s red light district. Many of his neighbors were, like his father and grandmother, the proprietors of brothels. With the exception of the Italian-American Joe Eagle, they were also black.
The photograph was taken in 1938 by Ernest Grassel, a Peorian who accumulated, over some five decades, 82 volumes of street photographs of Peoria.
The names of the owners reflect those who lived on the block with Pryor’s family in the mid-to-late-1940s.