The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Time Out Chicago Tackles Pilsen

By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on Feb 18, 2009 6:00PM

Photo: Tim Klein for Time Out Chicago
Ah, Pilsen. We've lost count of how many of our friends have moved to the South Side neighborhood over the last six months and it's certainly had us curious to learn more about the intriguing neighborhood. We're not alone. In a new feature, our friends at Time Out Chicago have examined Pilsen front-to-back and come away with some interesting features.

Perhaps the most interesting piece is on the current gentrification of Pilsen, something that's always a hot topic around this site as well. Web Behrens talks to several residents, including Alderman Danny Solis, about the current gentrification of Pilsen and how it's affected the residents who live there and the new ones moving in. Says Behrens:

The changes represent a sometimes contentious issue—right down to the use of the word gentrification, which for many people is a loaded term, suggesting class- and race-based discrimination. So what’s the most inclusive way to redevelop an area for the greater good? Ask five residents in Pilsen and you’ll likely get eight different answers. Still, everyone seems to agree the neighborhood experienced rapid redevelopment in the last decade, which recently cooled (as it has everywhere) because of the economic downturn.

Ald. Solis says of the current redevelopment, “It’s difficult for me to define [gentrification]. I think there was improvement; I think there was development; I think we had a lot of construction going on.” TOC also talks to Pilsen Alliance, an anti-gentrification organization. Executive director Alejandra IbaƱez tells TOC, “You know, politicians can talk all they want about, ‘Oh, I have these set-asides for affordable housing,’ but they’re not telling people that the criteria [for median income] is based on the six-county region.… If you want to put all those counties together, the income is much higher. It’s really not fair to say it’s affordable to local folks.”

Pilsen isn't the only neighborhood to get the gentrification examination from TOC. In another feature, When Gentrification Works, which runs through how some neighborhoods in the city - such as Uptown and Garfield Park - have supposedly done redevelopment right. TOC also examines Mexican Candy, the hot spots of 18th Street (and beyond) and does a little walking and talking with the residents of the neighborhood.