From its brightly colored murals to the smells of fresh Mexican food, Pilsen is one of Chicago’s most recognizable neighborhoods.
It’s also a great place to live! Residents enjoy lovely homes, great nearby parks, and a wonderful cultural scene.
Pilsen is known for its Mexican-American heritage. Whether it be a day trip to the National Mexican Museum of Art or checking out live music at Fiesta Del Sol, there are options within walking distance. Folks come to the area from across the city to check out the local businesses. Along 18th Steet, residents enjoy a great walking street full of restaurants, bakeries, and other shops.
Pilsen Real Estate features both historic buildings and new development. Older homes include classic multi-unit buildings and single-family homes. Newer options include condominiums, luxury houses, and large loft conversions.
Just a short trip (4 miles) to the Loop, the neighborhood is walking distance from other great Chicago areas including Chinatown and Little Italy. Getting around is easy with CTA Pink Line, Metra, or the Eisenhower, Dan Ryan or Stevenson Expressways!
Pilsen Neighborhood Guide
Pilsen is a jolt of energy and color. Just steps off the 18th Street Pink Line, you’ll see beautiful murals, smell fresh food, and feel a totally unique vibe. Simply put, Pilsen is one of the most exciting places to live in Chicago.
Pilsen residents have access to great shopping options. The area is a vintage clothing hotspot with great thrift stores including Knee Deep, Very Best Vintage, and Mestiza. One can get fresh tortillas from Milagro and sweetbread at Panaderia Nuevo Leon. The area also has some great local boutiques and local bookstores (including Open Books Warehouse). For groceries, there are both local grocers and major chains nearby.
Food and Drink
While it might be expected that Pilsen would have great Mexican and Latin food (and it does!), you can find all sorts of great food in the area. A newer addition to the area is Canton Regio, a great Mexican steakhouse. Other favorite Mexican places include 5 Rabanitos, for fine-dining, and Las Carnitas Uruapan, for some of the best carnitas in the city. Other local favorites include Hai Sous, for tasty Vietnamese cuisine, Pl-zen, a great local gastropub, and Honky Tonk for amazing BBQ. The area also offers great nightlife, cozy local pubs, and local cafes like La Catrina Cafe.
In short … a whole lot.
Pilsen residents can walk to top museums, music venues, nightlife, and art galleries. One exciting option is the National Museum of Mexican Art. The museum hosts a well-curated gallery and installations focused on Mexican-American history and culture. Need even more visual art? Check out the Prospectus Art Gallery, a Pilsen Open Studios night, or the nearby Chicago Arts District during the long-running 2nd Fridays Gallery Night!
Music fans will love Thalia Hall. The beautiful theater (a recreation of an Opera Hall in Prague) hosts great touring acts including rock, hip-hop, jazz, indie, and some classical events.
The area really comes into its own during its many festivals. These include Mole de Mayo, an annual mole cooking showdown, Ruido Fest, a Latin-American music festival, and Pilsen Fest, a great music festival. The Fiesta del Sol is the crown jewel of the Pilsen year. Every year in the late summer, the neighborhood puts together a three-day festival featuring live entertainment, great food, and local vendors.
Parks and Recreation
Pilsen residents have great recreation options. This includes Harrison Park, featuring a fully-equipped field house (gymnastics center, indoor swimming pool, computer lab). Around it offers 18 acres of sports fields/courts and a community garden. Right in the center of Pilsen is the small, but relaxing Dvorak Park. Also with a field house and sports fields, the park is perfect for taking in the great Pilsen vibes.
Early History (1850-1915)
Pilsen was settled in the mid-1800s by Irish and German immigrants. But after a large number of Czech immigrants arrived, the neighborhood was named after Plzen in Bohemia. The area escaped damage from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. As a result, Pilsen is home to some of the oldest buildings in Chicago. Two of these, St. Adalbert’s Church and Thalia Hall, are in an ornate Czech-influenced style unique in the city.
Transition Years (1915-1980)
After World War II, many of the original European families started to relocate to new suburbs. In the 1960s, many Mexican-Americans displaced by the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago began to arrive in Pilsen. These new residents proudly established a neighborhood full of cultural institutions, including the wonderful National Museum of Mexican Art.
Pilsen Today (1980-Present)
Pilsen, like all Chicago neighborhoods, continues to grow and change. In the early 1980s, low rents made the area a hotbed for Chicago artists. Many began to live in converted warehouse lofts. Recently new development has begun to go up in the area and rents have risen. Today, Pilsen is a mix of young professionals, families, and long-standing residents.
Pilsen offers residents a number of excellent, affordable housing options. Close to the Loop and surrounded by an exciting environment, the area has attracted many new residents in recent years. The area has a nice historic stock of multi-unit housing from the late-1800s, and new development of condominiums, hip lofts, and single-family homes. Real Estate values in recent years have begun to rise.
With so much on offer, it’s no surprise that the area has exploded in popularity in recent years. Come check out this fiercely unique spot!