Pilsen and Little Village have been immigrant neighborhoods since their inception alongside the Southwest Side’s major industrial corridors, and for the past 50 years, they have been the cultural and business centers for Chicago’s Mexican Americans. The densely populated communities feature 120-year-old structures in the 4,200-building Pilsen Historic District, with slightly younger houses and two-flats in Little Village, which was fully built up in the 1920s.
Today, Pilsen and Little Village are magnets for second- and third-generation Mexican Americans, as well as new immigrants. Hundreds of storefronts sell Mexican food, wedding and quinceañera gowns, music, clothing, and housewares, drawing steady traffic especially on weekends. Both communities have flourishing art scenes that include galleries, murals, music venues, a Latino film festival, and diverse programming for youth. Churches, social service agencies, and community development organizations have built extensive support networks. And Pilsen, in recent years, has been attracting the young and hip with resale shops, bars and trendy restaurants.
Amidst all this vitality and apparent economic health, the two communities remain relatively poor compared to other Chicago neighborhoods, with household incomes limited by low educational achievement and earning power. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]