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
*Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
*Chicago Public Library-Rudy Lozano Branch
*Benito Juarez High School
*Former site of the McCormick Reaper Works