By: Sabrina Farris

Pilsen is a very nice family oriented neighborhood with fascinating art, culture and food.

The center of the Pilsen neighborhood is18th and Halsted Streets.  It is bounded by Western Avenue, Cermak Road, Halsted Street, and 16th Street.

18th Street and Western Avenue has a mural of Hispanics coming to America.  It’s shows how they wanted to migrate from Mexico to America.

“Murals are an inspiration to me. I draw murals to show a political statement when the Mexicans came to Central America,” said Marcos Raya, 65, a mural artist in Pilsen.

Raya is a very independent person.  He draws his murals by himself and does not work with anyone.  He learned it from his father.

Public art is a very important part of Pilsen.  People tour the town to see the beautiful murals of the history of Pilsen.

In the 19th Century, Czech immigrants invaded Pilsen. They named the district after Plzen, a town after their native country.  After the Czech lived there for a while, they were eventually replaced.

“When I came here, it was a lot of Germans, Polish, Bohemian, and Irish people living here already,” said Juanita Nunez, 51, housekeeper.

Today, Pilsen has 44,000 residents and is growing with a lot of wonderful, restaurants, and shops.

“Church has always been an anchor for Latinos,” said Ralph Braseth, 55, a Loyola University Chicago professor who has done research on Pilsen.

A lot of Latinos started to leave Catholic Church and go to Protestant and Evangelical.

“We are very big on participating in Sunday Mass, we come together to try to make the community safer,” said by Daniel Gutierrez, 51 years old, owner of Nuevo Leon, a local restaurant.

Nuevo Leon has been in Pilsen town since 1962. It has about 54 dishes. It is a very popular restaurant in Pilsen.  So are other tasty restaurants.

The diverse population is attracting more residents to Pilsen.

“More people, more diverse, more vibrant city,” said Maren Celeste, 25, employee at thrift shop.

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