Lower West Side
The Lower West Side of Chicago is 3 miles southwest of the Loop and is situated between The Burlington Northern railroad tracks to the north and west and the Chicago River to the south and east. This area has a rich history that starts in the mid 19th century when most of the area was inhabited by Germans, Polish, Czech and Italian immigrants. Being that the Czech immigrants had the most residents, a part of the neighborhood was named after the Czech Republic city Plzeň (Pilsen). Before the turn of the century the area was plagued with disease and poor living conditions including frequent flooding and lack of indoor plumbing. The outbreak of cholera caused many of the German and Irish to migrate to other neighborhoods.
Those that remained worked in manufacturing, lumber yards, breweries and the area grew to a busy industrial area. The people in Pilsen and the Heart of Chicago, the most well known areas in The Lower West Side, founded churches, started newspapers in various languages and established schools. Up until the Great Depression, this neighborhood was known for its hard working class and the industry around them. With the World Wars came a housing crisis and and strained business. A great deal of the residents moved out of the area to the suburbs and the neighborhood’s livelihood suffered.
In the 1960s quite a few changes came to the area. With the expansion of the UIC campus, many Latinos were displaced and came to reside in the Lower West Side. This was around the time the Stevenson Expressway was completed and gave residents easy access to the Loop and other parts of the city. The Latino presence in the Lower West Side continued to grow and plant roots in this neighborhood establishing the Mexican Fine Arts Center, starting cultural parades and celebrations as well as employing artists to paint murals all around the city.
Now Pilsen and the Heart of Chicago are still the “heart” of the Lower West Side and the entire neighborhood has come to be known for its amazing restaurants, shops and retail that represent its residents and their origins. The numerous murals that adorn homes, train overpasses and building walls in the neighborhood paint a picture of a diverse and proud people that reside there.
If you are interested in living on the Lower West Side please reach out to us here at Real Living. We would be happy to set up an online search, show you some listings or just answer some questions about the neighborhood. We look forward to hearing from you!