Pilsen: Gentrification Rising

By: Alexa Graleski

The neighborhood of Pilsen has much to offer, with many authentic restaurants, family owned businesses, and many colorful and vibrant personalities.

However, many people who have lived there their entire lives are being forced to leave due to the recent increase in gentrification.

Gentrification in the neighborhood began fairly recently, and many residents of Pilsen have had mixed feelings about it.

Pilsen is a mainly Mexican neighborhood with much history inside its borders, which are Cermak Road, Ashland Avenue, 16th Street, and Halsted Street. Each street is lined with vibrant murals and mosaics painted on almost every brick wall.

The idea behind these murals, behind this movement in Chicago, was to…create an image for the neighborhood that would insight pride and would insight nostalgia for Mexico,” said Gilberto Sandoval, 22, a tour guide at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Pilsen began as a mainly Czechoslovakian neighborhood in the late 19th century. Mexican immigrants didn’t take over until the 1960s. The current population stands at around 35,769.

Pilsen is an example of history, and it represents so much more than a place to live to its residents. That’s why gentrification is both helping and hurting them. The town has become coveted real estate property, as well as safer with a decrease in crime, but the rising rent prices have driven some families out.

“In my perspective, its harder to see my friends have to move because their families can’t afford it,” said Zarai Zaragoza, 20, whose family has considered moving because of the increase in rent.

Pilsen will always be changing and adapting to new trends, just like any neighborhood. Local business owner Carlos Lourenzo, 38, is sure of this.

“… If you look at it,” he said, “[gentrification] is just basically trends and availability, and what the neighborhood can offer.”

 

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