Thursday, December 3, 2009

Neighborhood Spotlight: Pilsen

The history of Pilsen is like the history of Chicago. A neighborhood marked by history and transformation.

Although originally settled by Germans and Irish by the 1800's, the area had attracted a large Czech community who came to work in the nearby factories and stockyards. They named their neighborhood after Plzen, a city in the Czech Republic. Their presence in Pilsen is still embodied in Thalia Hall (1892), which served as a community center and dance hall. Today, the building has been restored and hosts a new resturant streetside.

In the early 1900's, Pilsen experienced an influx of Polish residents, the most recent immigrants to Chicago. The community erected a Church St. Adalbert (1914), which continues to stand and dominate the Pilsen Skyline.

Since the 1960's, Pilsen became home to a large Mexican-American Community and today the Latino character remains vibrant in the neighborhood. The district is livened with large murals, authenitic little resturants and boasts the National Museum of Mexican Art (free daily except Mondays).

The most recent change in Pilsen has been the influx of artists and professionals, creating fears of displacement among the Mexican community. Galleries, boutiques and trendy bars are increasingly common in Pilsen serving this new community. On the 2nd friday of the month (Dec 11th) artist studios and galleries hold openings and receptions for the public. For more information click here.

Pilsen is highly accesible with the Pink Line's 18th street station taking you to the heart of the neighborhood. For more ideas on things to do in Pilsen click here or here.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Great overview of Pilsen, Paul. The 2nd Friday Gallery walk is one of my favorite Chicago events! (Thrift store lovers should check out Knee Deep Vintage on 2nd Fridays - it's an amazing store and they always have a party/huge sale that coincides with the gallery walks).