Pilsen’s Changes

By Asian Carp

Aurulio Barrios, a 69-year-old who’s lived in Pilsen since 1959, used to know Pilsen as a dangerous place.

“When I came here, there was a killing about every weekend, and there was a lot of fighting going on,” Barrios said.

Barrios’s community is home to 36,000 people, and brings out a vibrant Hispanic culture, making it a unique site of Chicago.

But lately, the town has been facing renovations, blurring its cultural border.

Gentrification has dotted the neighborhood with stores and shops that would normally be seen in the main city, and, as some residents would say, is killing Pilsen’s culture.

One of Pilsen’s attractions is St. Adalbert, a church in the process of being torn down. Many Pilsen residents are against this action. Around the town, people have painted the words “Pilsen is not for sale” in protest against the gentrification acts.

However, there are people who are happy with the effects of the renovations.

Arnesto Avina, a 44-year-old who has worked in Pilsen for 10 years, explains that the renovations in the neighborhood made it safer than before.

“When I came here as a little boy, I used to not hang out outside, but, now, it’s definitely safer than it was back then,” Avina said.

Pilsen’s gentrification is thought by many to be harming and replacing the original culture. However, Charles Roberts, a 40-year-old who’s lived in Pilsen for 10 years, believes that the renovations are not harming the culture.

“It didn’t kill the culture. I think that it added more to it. I think it made the culture more alive,” Roberts said.

Overall, the renovations have made Pilsen a safer place for people like Aurulio Barrios, and have successfully kept the community’s culture.

“I think the renovations are good because there aren’t as many killings anymore,” Barrios said.

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