Pilsen Neighborhood Tour


Bounded by Western Avenue, the South Branch of the Chicago River, and to the north by the tracks of several railroads, this tour highlights locations that exemplify Pilsen's rich history of immigrant community life and labor and political activism. Beginning in the mid nineteenth century, the city of Chicago initiated a series of urban development projects that drove thousands of Bohemian immigrants out of what became Lincoln Park and "The Gold Coast" and into a section of the West Side. They named their new home Pilsen, after the second largest city in Bohemia (Czech Republic). A number of these immigrants arrived in Chicago as anarchists and socialists, and, after experiencing the effects of the recession of 1873, led and participated in a series of strikes and protests. By 1910, Pilsen had become the largest Bohemian community in the U.S. In 1920, after receiving waves of immigration from Poland, Lithuania, and Croatia, at least twenty-six ethnic groups lived here, many of whom established churches, schools, and community houses. During the early twentieth century, thousands of these immigrants began moving into various suburbs.

In the 1950s, Mexican immigrants began arriving in Pilsen, their numbers then increased by the population displaced by the expansion of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Today, Pilsen is one of the largest Mexican communities in the Midwest.

Important sites in Pilsen include:

*Battle of the Viaduct
*Schoenhofen Brewery
*Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
*Chicago Public Library-Rudy Lozano Branch
*Thalia Hall
*Casa Aztlan
*Benito Juarez High School
*Former site of the McCormick Reaper Works

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at www.labortrail.org.

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at: www.workingclassstudies.org

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer