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History of Pilsen

How Pilsen became a Spanish speaking neighborhood

Pilsen, the Spanish language center of Chicago.


The Heart of Chicago or Pilsen has become the central location for Spanish speakers. It is located on the Lower West side of Chicago. It was once resided by Czech immigrants, hence its name Plzen (a city in the Czech Republic). While the population was predominantly Czech, there was also German, Irish and now Mexican.  Throughout the years the neighborhood has served as a sanctuary for many generational immigrants.


Mexican-American presence increased in the late 1950s. In the early 1960s, they officially made it their home. Due to the construction of the University of Chicago many Mexicans decided to establish themselves in the neighborhood. As a result the population were majority undocumented, making Spanish the official language. The neighborhood became embellished with Spanish sings all over the streets. Regardless having no English skills: they created successful Spanish programs, organizations, businesses, and Institutions. Various academies have required bilingual services. Therefore, the Mexican immigrant community changed the language standards.


Alongside Pilsen is Little Village, together they are largest Mexican populated community in Chicago. Pilsen is now the greatest resource for Spanish speakers and learners. The opportunities to further develop Spanish skills are endless. Mexican culture is responsible for the festive restaurants, vibrant streets, and museums. The National Museum of Mexican Art provides services for both English and Spanish learners and speakers. In the museum they have descriptions of the art pieces translated in both English and Spanish. It’s a great resource for those learning either language, while appreciating the Mexican culture and art.

Pilsen conversation groups are great because of the Spanish-speaking environment. It’s important as Spanish learners to immerse with Native speakers. Various festivities and events are held for Native speakers like La Fiesta del Sol. Every year Fiesta del Sol is held and Spanish takes over the entire city. The festival celebrates Spanish language and Mexican culture. Most of all, Spanish students should take time out of their week to practice through immersion.
If you want to join us in future events in Pilsen, follow us in The heart of Chicago is a great opportunity for Spanish learners to explore. And while most of our events will take place here, Little Village is also a great option. What are your thoughts? And how do you think language has affected the neighborhood? How has it affected Chicago? Leave us a comment below.

If you want to know more about our events, check out our blog. We will inform you more on Pilsen and other Spanish places.

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