Gentrification in Pilsen

By: Max Stallings

Carlos Lourenzo 38, has lived in the neighborhood of Pilsen for nine years. Long enough to notice the gentrification taking place. He owns a small clothing shop, Knee Deep, and believes likes that Chicago is diverse.

“I think that Chicago is a great diverse city and it always should stay that way,” he said.

Pilsen is located on the West Side of Chicago. It’s boundaries are 16th Street on the north, Halsted Street on the east, Ashland Avenue on the west, and Archer Avenue on the south.

Recently, more white Chicago residents are moving to Pilsen because it has cheaper housing. This has caused the rent for many residents already living there to increase sharply. People have had to move because of it.

“Gentrification is definitely a word that is thrown around here,” Lourenzo said. “But it’s basically what the neighborhood can offer in terms of location.”

Another Pilsen resident, Zarai Zaragoza 20, has lived there her whole life. She rents a house with her mother and her family.

“We have debated moving a couple times because it is getting very expensive,” she said. “It’s hard to see my friends leave because they can’t afford it.”

Pilsen was originally inhabited by Czech immigrants but now is predominantly Hispanic. Both Lourenzo and Zaragoza say that the Hispanic authenticity is not threatened that much by gentrification. They say that tourism has helped the more authentic shops and restaurants.

According to the 2010 Census the population of Pilsen is about 35,769 people.

“This is Chicago, it’s a melting pot, it is the center of the country,” Lourenzo said. “Everything is going to fluctuate.”