Talking to the Pilsen community
Locals sound off about about gentrification, their favorite spots, and more.
SARA CHESS, 21
Planning to do some Mr. Cleaning?
My apartment is a little ravaged.
Do you live in Pilsen?
I’m from New York, but I’ve lived in the neighborhood for three years. I’m an art history and painting student at the School of the Art Institute and, for me, Pilsen is affordable and I have a lot of friends that live down here. I lived in Wicker Park for a little while and I got really sick of it really fast. I have more sustainable good feelings toward this neighborhood. In Wicker Park, I felt like I was living in a mall. It seemed a little generic. Pilsen seems a lot more unique.
You’re talking about gentrification.
Wicker Park was gentrified long before I got there. Gentrification is a conversation I find myself in much more often with respect to Pilsen. Being an art student, you get a lot of shit because you move here because it’s cheap and you don’t have a lot of money. But you can’t avoid your own suffocating presence in the neighborhood. You feel like you’re an asshole.
People often see you as an agent of gentrification.
Right. Yeah. I don’t feel any guilt about it personally because it’s just a force and you’re either an agent of it or you’re on the other side. Neighborhoods change. This wasn’t always a Hispanic neighborhood. It was Ukrainian and that changed. It’s important to have art communities in places they can exist. It just shouldn’t be used by Realtors to push people out of their homes.