Pilsen named one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world

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Thursday, June 28, 2018
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Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood is one of the coolest in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood is one of the coolest in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.

Some members of the community are welcoming the recognition, while others are afraid the distinction will drive some out of their homes.

"I can't help but agree, of course. Pretty surprising for the little neighborhood here to be recognized on that scale, but I certainly think it's deserving," said William Duncan, a partner of Thalia Hall, a venue with a concert hall, restaurant and bars. "I think it's a really special place."

Forbes Magazine specifically mentioned Punch House in its write-up. The company that owns Thalia Hall has this philosophy: "Serve the community in which you operate as best as you can and, um, find the route to draw folks from right nearby," Duncan said.

And nearby, you'll find art galleries and restaurants, even some offering vegan options. But the history here is a bit more complicated.

However, some say being named the "coolest" comes at a cost.

For Teresa Fraga and her family, Pilsen has been home for more than 50 years.

"This is not the kind of recognition we were looking for," she said.

The neighborhood has a rich history. The community protested and fought to build Benito Juarez High School, holding signs and painting walls. They wanted trash picked up and empty lots improved.

For Pilsen to be labeled "cool" today was not Fraga's vision.

"It's good, it's great," Fraga said about the distinction. "But for someone who has raised a family here and have been through the struggles of bringing up this neighborhood, this is not the vision."

The vision was to have families together; the galleries and trendy bars are different. They're also putting Pilsen on the international map.

For Alderman Danny Solis, this is a cool area, and it's created by accepting everyone.

"You need the professional, with the bus driver, with the carpenter, you need the mix and that makes the best community, he said."