Rachel Marr

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Pilsen

By Rachel Marr

Visitors to Pilsen see colorful murals showing the culture of its people.

They also see a Dunkin Donuts.

This neighborhood, located on the West Side of Chicago, is facing gentrification.

The neighborhood population of 35,769 is mostly comprised of people of Hispanic descent. Pilsen is filled with Mexican culture, but is now starting to be taken over by franchises.

With the local church, St. Adalbert, being shut down, gentrification is now confronts the people of Pilsen. Signs and graffiti have now emerged over town stating, “Pilsen is not for sale.”

Carwash owner Ty Kolup, 53, likes the fact that money is coming to the community because it is helping bring crime levels down. “When the gangs was here, I’d go to a funeral once or twice a week,” Kolup said, ““Gangs like poverty.”

With the new companies and wealthy people moving in, gangs are moving out.

With the new revenues coming in, rent is going up and people have to leave to seek out cheaper rent.

Charles Roberts, 40, is the manger at Knee Deep, and has been living in Pilsen for the past 10 years. He is being priced out and must move soon.

However, Roberts is not against the gentrification and said, “(the gentrification) didn’t kill the culture… I’ve actually seen more of it.”

Roberts believes it has actually made the culture stronger for the town is bringing in new tourist and the people of Pilsen want to show off their Mexican roots.

The people of Pilsen have different stances on the gentrification. Aureilo Barrios, 69, likes the gentrification and how it has brought money to the town and the crime rate down.

However, he does not like it when the people of wealth try to change Pilsen. When a corporation wanted to put in zone parking Barrios said, “(the people of Pilsen) cut their tires, broke their windows on their car, and then they moved out.”

Barrios said,” I was calling this friend mine said ‘Where do you live at?’ and he said ‘Pilsen Heights’…I said where did you get all these stupid names from… it’s Pilsen and that’s it!”

 

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