Pilsen: A Warm Community Filled with Smiles

Long time owner of Nuevo Leon, a popular restaurant in Pilsen, greeting an old friend on the street.

Imagine standing in the middle of a neighborhood surrounded by people who are all alike; all the people in this neighborhood know one another, are kind to one another, and love one another.

For residents of Pilsen, this just so happens to be their lifestyle.

Paul Guizar, 23, works in Pilsen Vintage & Thrift and first moved to Pilsen about five years ago. He describes it as an opening and close community.

Pilsen, a neighborhood that was originally inhabited by Czechoslovakian immigrants, is now primarily a Mexican-American neighborhood and has a population of roughly 43,000 people. With boundaries of 16th Street, Cermak Road, Halsted Street and Western Avenue, this neighborhood is on the lower West Side of Chicago.

In recent years, Pilsen has experienced gentrification, with more Anglo-Americans coming into the neighborhood.

While there have been some cultural changes due to the mixture of nationalities, it doesn’t bother some as much as it bothers others.

“I like that there’s something new and different,” Guizar said.

With restaurants and exciting shops on every block, it’s no wonder why people love Pilsen, and the town center in particular.

Just about everyone spotted in the town center of Pilsen has a smile on their faces and is friendly to one another.

“This [the town center] is the heart of Pilsen,” said Carlos Arango.

There are many different shops in Pilsen, some filled with traditional Mexican clothing, and others simply sell clothing that people wear all over the city of Chicago.

What separates the shop Guizar works at from the others? His store aims to be only vintage.

“Most of the other thrift stores from here just sell anything. We try to only sell things from the ‘60s and ‘70s,” he said.

Despite the differences in stores, everyone in the town still gets along with one another and there really isn’t much competition between businesses.

When asked what his favorite part of Pilsen was, Guizar said, “the good food, and that everybody is friendly.”


Devon Avenue