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Latino State News

Pilsen Historic District

What is now Pilsen’s Historic District, the neighborhood has been a first-stop for both Bohemian and Mexican immigrants for many years.

Pilsen’s architectural and urban landscape was created entirely by and for its settlers.

Arriving after the great fire of 1871, Bohemian builders were so successful in creating an environment suited to their needs that, today, the neighborhood looks remarkably similar to when it was built. Many aspects of the neighborhood distinguish it from other immigrant-rich Chicago areas. The Bohemians created an environment with an unusually high degree of functionality, often putting multi-use buildings for houses, stores, workshops, and factories, on the same block.

Pilsen’s demographic changed rapidly and now 93 percent of the current population is Mexican-American, but there was once a time when both Bohemian and Mexican residents shared the area equally. In the 1950s and ‘60s, in a joint-effort to save the neighborhood from urban renewal, they created the council called Pilsen Neighbors. Having succeeded, they spared the area from destruction.The Mexican-Americans in Pilsen eventually rehabilitated some community and cultural centers that had been so essential to the Bohemian community.