By: Nick Seda
Pilsen Is Not For Sale
Pilsen. 18th Street is teeming with an array of stores, restaurants, and different kinds of colorful street art. Pilsen is an authentic, bohemian neighborhood in love with its culture and art and it definitely shows.
This unique neighborhood is located on the West Side of Chicago, and is bordered by 16th Street & the Metra BNSF tracks, Cermak Road, Ashland Avenue, and Halsted Street. It is home to 35,769 people, over 70 percent of which are Hispanic.
Pilsen has been in the news for the past 15 years because it’s been going through gentrification. This negatively affects renters, but home buyers could be positively affected because they could sell their homes for more money.
The gentrification in Pilsen is fueled by the neighborhood’s attractive location within the city. Pilsen’s location to downtown is very desireable, with nearby access to the CTA Pink Line, Metra’s BNSF rail line, and major CTA bus routes.
Opinions about gentrification in Pilsen vary. Carlos Lourenzo, 38, owns The Knee Deep on 18th Street and thinks that this is going to be a turn for the better.
“Chicago is a melting pot, but Pilsen values community,” he said. “Chicago is a diverse city and should stay that way.”
A concern that many longtime Pilsen residents have is that the gentrification threatens the identity of Pilsen. Lourenzo thinks that “the identity will stay, but [the community] will welcome others.”
Gilberto Sandoval, 22, said that he’s lived in Pilsen for 22 years and that in the past 15 there’s been change.
“The gentrification [of Pilsen] is a forceful gentrification” Sandoval says, referring to when the Eastern Europeans voluntarily left the neighborhood. Sandoval also mentioned that when his parents moved to Pilsen, they didn’t need to learn English because everyone in the community speaked fluent Spanish, and now that’s not the case. “Pilsen hasn’t changed much” Sandoval said, “[but] the demographic has changed.”