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Colette Luke/MEDILL

Daisy Alvarado has lived in Humboldt Park for the past 30 years and is concerned about violence and drugs in the park.

Puerto Ricans are concerned about the changing ethnic makeup in Humboldt Park

by Colette Luke
Oct 04, 2012


Colette Luke/MEDILL 

The 45-ton metal Puerto Rican flag on Division street was built in 1995. 

Daisy Alvarado has been living in Humboldt Park for more than thirty years after leaving Puerto Rico. As the area becomes more popular and housing prices continue to increase, Alvarado said Puerto Ricans are moving out of the area because they can no longer afford it.


“I feel it should be left the way it was, “ Alvarado said.


A large number of Puerto Ricans moved into the Humboldt Park in the 1950s after a lack of jobs in Puerto Rico. In 1995, city officials and activists installed two large 45 ton metal Puerto Rican flags arching over the two ends of Division Street at N. Mozart St. and N. Artesian Ave. The area is called Paseo Boricua, which means Puerto Rican promenade.

Alvarado said that because most ethnic groups have their own separate neighborhoods in Chicago, she feels that the influx of new ethnic groups in Humboldt Park is an “invasion”.

Alvarado is planning to vote in the upcoming Congressional 4th District race between Democratic incumbent Luis Gutiérrez and Republican candidate Héctor Concepcion. She has not decided who she will vote for yet, but hopes that the winning candidate will help more Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood as well as reduce violence and drugs.


Concepción, like Gutiérrez, is from Puerto Rico. He said many Puerto Ricans are moving out of the area because taxes continue to increase. To relieve this problem, Concepción said he would create programs to educate the Puerto Rican community on home ownership and on how to refinance their homes.


“There has to be more education and efforts," Concepción said. Politicians "are not doing enough to cater to the community,” he said.


U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) is currently in Puerto Rico and was unavailable for comment.


Some Chicago residents enjoy the growing diversity. Mabel Fernandez moved to Chicago three years ago from Puerto Rico. She works at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park and thinks gentrification in the area is a positive thing.


 “It makes me feel good and proud, “ Fernandez said. “Humboldt Park has something for everyone.”