By Kyle Phelps
With a history spanning over a century, it is no surprise Pilsen has become one of the most desired tourism and living destinations in Chicago.
However, this has not come without controversy.
Pilsen is currently divided on the topic of newcomers in the neighborhood, called gentrification, as it has gradually increased the price of living for working class citizens who may not be able to afford it.
Unfortunately, this has caused some residents to move out due to a spike in their rent. Some citizens of Pilsen, however, are welcoming the younger population with open arms.
The community of roughly 36,000 people located on the West Side of Chicago is holding on strongly to its roots.
Beginning in the early 1970s, Pilsen grew in its Hispanic population rapidly, as the University of Illinois at Chicago caused the teardown of numerous houses.
Ty Kolup, 53, is a longtime resident of Pilsen and welcomes the new residents. He mentions the recent decline in crime and how a majority of those who are protesting gentrification aren’t residents.
“When I came to this neighborhood I took a gamble,” Kolup said. “The people who are protesting do not own property in Pilsen. Fifteen or 20 years ago, the city was bad. When the gangs were here, I’d go to a funeral once or twice a week.”
On the other hand, there has been a sharp rejection of any new people in town. Graffiti making “Pilsen is not for sale” is scattered all through the community.
Aurelio Barrio, 69, is also an established citizen in Pilsen, owning his dad’s barbershop off of the side of the road. He considers the change to be more of a necessary evil. He states that everything changes one way or another.
“We like [the new residents] to a degree, but I don’t like it when they start dictating what everyone should do,” Barrio said. “Things got to change anyway. I’m not going to be here forever.”