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Pilsen is a neighborhood on the Lower West Side of Chicago. Murals of Mexican cowboys notwithstanding, Pilsen is a lot like the Wild West: only a few minutes from the Loop by train, this working-class area is thick with riches in art and historic architecture, encircled by developers and speculators in search of the next hot neighborhood, and occupied by a community that’s fiercely proud of where they live.

Pilsen was originally settled by Irish and German immigrants, who came to work at the factories and stockyards nearby. Those industries attracted Czech immigrants next, and in the late 1800s, the neighborhood was named in honor of the city back home in Bohemia. The streets of Pilsen still bear their mark — weathered stone castles like St. Adalbert’s and Thalia Hall loom over buildings with colorful turrets and dashes of ornamentation completely absent of the Prairie School influence found elsewhere in Chicago.

Filed under : Chicago Neighborhoods