This past Labor Day weekend, Trevor and I visited Chicago. We stayed in Pilsen, a predominant Mexican neighborhood in the Lower West Side. It was close to all the neighborhoods we wanted to check out including Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, and downtown.
Pilsen was a unique gem with an abundance of beautiful street art. It gave us a different perspective when we later found out that the neighborhoods are in its early stages of gentrification. Most of the artists focused on powerful latinos/latinas who have contributed to the community. Its subject matter ranged from immigration policies, Catholicism, to strong emphasis on Mexican roots and identity. There were also anti-gentrification graffiti and stencil paints all over Pilsen.
I got the sense that the community is caught between two polarizing issues: to preserve its Latino, working-class identity; and to capitalize on the area’s proximity to the Loop and University of Illinois at Chicago.
The best way to see the city is on bike. Trevor and I rented bicycles and hunted for murals around Chicago. I documented the coordinates and decided to build an interactive map via js, html, and css. My map included yellow paper airplane markers indicating all the the mural locations in Chicago. Each time you click on a mural spot, a small thumbnail window pops up with the image and address. I thought it would be really cool to add more locations into the map.