I’ve been working on a research project, which has allowed me the opportunity to dig deep into a lot of different topics around Afro-Latino/a and Latino/a identity in the U.S. I will be sharing highlights on the blog… as I have been learning some really cool information.
In this blog post, check out 5 interesting geography facts about Puerto Ricans in Chicago.
1) PUERTO RICANS ON THE SOUTH SIDE
In the 1930s, Puerto Ricans first migrated from New York City to Chicago. Later in the late 1940s/early 1950s (after World War II), Puerto Ricans migrated to Chicago from the island after being recruited for jobs–during the large wave of Puerto Rican migration to the U.S. They moved to various neighborhoods in Chicago that included (but not limited to) Back of the Yards (southwest side), Chicago’s Black Belt (south side), and the downtown area. They lived amongst others who had recently migrated to Chicago, both Mexicans and African-Americans. The south side communities were often attractive to Puerto Ricans because they were close to employment; they were allowed to rent in the area; housing was affordable; and people from their hometown may have already moved there.
2) HUMBOLDT PARK & WEST TOWN
During the 1960s Puerto Ricans moved north and lived in areas such as Lincoln Park until gentrification displaced them. Puerto Ricans also settled into Humboldt Park and West Town where they faced blatant discrimination from Ukrainians, Polish, other white European immigrants, and white-Anglos who lived in the area. Incidents of discrimination took place within the school system, Catholic churches, community service organizations, and when seeking job opportunities. Puerto Ricans were also subject to police brutality. As it related to their neighborhood, the city and landlords neglected the community and made little improvements or attempts to beautify these areas. The media often painted a negative picture of the Puerto Rican community, as an unsafe place, rampant with crime. The challenges and socio-economic conditions that existed or the lack of resources to allow the community to prosper were rarely addressed. The horrible depiction in the media even kept many middle-class Puerto Ricans away.
3) GENTRIFICATION IN HUMBOLDT PARK & WEST TOWN
In the 80s and 90s, in hopes of attracting an affluent group to move to the area, realtors began to rebrand the northwest side as Bucktown, West Bucktown, East Village, and Wicker Park. This led to a gentrification process that pushed Puerto Ricans and other residents out. As white upper class people moved to these “improved” areas, residents suffered from housing costs that skyrocketed; residents who lived in the area for a long time were evicted; homeowners were pressured to leave the community; and there was a hike in property taxes. As this new powerful white demographic moved back into the city and settled in this valuable area, so close to downtown Chicago and public transportation … the city, politicians, community leaders, and housing authorities invested heavily into this community to keep it looking attractive for residents who were often hipsters and yuppies.
4) PUERTO RICANS IN ILLINOIS TODAY
The top five areas where Puerto Ricans have concentrated in Illinois (as of 2010) are Chicago and the suburbs of Aurora, Elgin, Waukegan, and Joliet. These Chicago suburbs reflect locations that attracted early Puerto Rican migrant families.
5) PUERTO RICANS IN CHICAGO COMMUNITIES TODAY
The most concentrated Chicago communities with Puerto Ricans (as of 2010) are on the northwest side: Logan Square, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Belmont, Cragin, West Town, Avondale, Portage Park, Montclare and, on a smaller level Irving Park and Austin.
There is more to the story of Puerto Ricans in Chicago. These 5 facts simply provide a quick snapshot of specific moments in the extensive timeline of Puerto Rican migration and settlement in Chicago.
Leave a comment below or tweet us your thoughts to @BoriquaChicks.
Alicea, M. (2001). Cuando nosotros vivíamos…: Stories of Displacement and Settlement in Puerto Rican Chicago. Centro Journal, 13(2), 167-195. Retrieved from http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/Journal/1999- 2002/Vol_13_2_2001_fall/11_Alicea_Cuando_166-195.pdf
Flores-González, N. (2001). Paseo Boricua: Claiming a Puerto Rican Space in Chicago. Centro Journal, 13(2), 6-23. Retrieved from http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/Journal/1999- 2002/Vol_13_2_2001_fall/2.NFlores,PaseoBoricua(pgs6-23).pdf
Cintrón, R., Toro-Morn, M., García Zambrana, I. and Scott, E., (2012), 60 Years of Migration: Puerto Ricans in Chicagoland. Chicago: the Puerto Rican Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.puertoricanchicago.org/pdf/Full_report.pdf
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