Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pilsen is anything but fashionable

My news chuckle for the day came from a New York Times account of the Pilsen neighborhood and Chicago’s other Hispanic influences. Specifically, I find humorous the reference in the story’s lede to Pilsen being the “fashionable Latino neighborhood.”

Trust me when I tell you that any person of Latin American ethnic background who chooses to live in a Spanish-oriented neighborhood (In reality, we are scattered across the Chicago area in all types of communities) is not the least bit concerned with being “fashionable.”

AS FOR THE artsy types who in recent years have moved there because of the perception of cheap rent (it’s nowhere near as cheap as it used to be a couple of decades ago), many of them probably view the Mexican orientation of Pilsen as a drawback overcome by its close proximity (about a 15-minute elevated train ride) to downtown Chicago.

Anyway, here’s the link ( to the story, which is an interesting account of a continuously evolving neighborhood continuing to evolve.

Seriously, Pilsen is a one-time Bohemian community (Did you think a bunch of crazy Mexicanos named their neighborhood for the one-time capital of West Bohemia?) that throughout the years has been home to just about every eastern European ethnicity when they were immigrants.

Now, it is a neighborhood oriented to newcomers from Mexico.

THE REAL QUESTION is to wonder if the neighborhood will retain a Spanish-speaking flavor, or will it continue to evolve with some new immigrant group? Or will those artists come in, price everything out of range of lower-income Latinos, and turn the neighborhood into an artsy community.

In short, will they turn it into something truly fashionable? And does that make “fashionable” synonymous with “dreadful?”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm relocating to Pilsen in August. I haven't lived in Chicago, but my great-grandparents helped build Pilsen at the turn of the last century.

What type of gentrifier would that make me, I wonder?