Nearby ‘Chicago Tonight’: Humboldt Park Dedicated to Preserving Local Culture Chicago News


Don Pedro Cottage One of many locations in Humboldt Park, it serves as a reminder of the community’s deep Puerto Rican roots. Maintaining that culture is something advocates have been focusing on.

Walking down Division Street, pedestrians pass nine sidewalk murals painted by local artists. The idea is to create public art and beautify the community, especially Puerto Rican art, as gentrification spreads steadily.

Artist Cristian Roldán led the effort and recruited other artists. He said he must have noticed some changes in social norms after living in Humboldt Park for seven years.

“Lately, people used to go to the park and play music in their car and turn off the speakers,” Roldán said. “Now your sign this year says ‘don’t play music too loud’. It’s part of the change in the way people behave in this community, how they enjoy themselves. The things we’re used to doing, the way to relax, is now banned .”

For sidewalk murals, Working with the city’s Alfresco Initiative, Roldán has created an inviting space for al fresco dining.

Roldan Describe them as rugs that invite you into your home.

“That’s what gives meaning to public art,” he said. “Looking at different types of works of art. That’s how it becomes part of a collective aesthetic. From all these different ideas, it builds a dialogue, a dialogue.”

More recently, the conversation has also revolved around the famous Paseo Boricua steel flag, which has been a pillar of the community since it was erected in 1995.

Chicago Landmarks Commission Vote in early April for the “Preliminary Landmark Proposal” for the Paseo Boricua Portal Sign.

Jose Lopez, Executive Director The Puerto Rico Cultural Center was one of the original community leaders who pushed for the flag.

“They commemorate the first immigrant Puerto Ricans who came to Chicago to work in plumbing,” Lopez said. “It really honors the Puerto Rican presence in Chicago and our country.”

By September, Lopez said, the city council will have a formal vote on it, with a big celebration nearby.

video: Jose Lopez, executive director of the Puerto Rico Cultural Center, talks about the cultural heritage and history of the Humboldt Park community.

Another change that the community has experienced is the lack of adequate quality food.

Local city councillors say Humboldt Park is actually a food desert.

“It has been recognized as a food desert for many years,” Ald.Roberto Maldonado (District 26) said. “People have to drive to Target or other fairly large markets in the area. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in those locations, nothing compares to what we’re going to see in future Central Park Foods expansions .”

he refers to the future home Central Park Foods: Division and Grand’s former CVS dispensary sat vacant for 12 years. Before it became CVS, it was a Jewel Osco grocery store.

The grocery store is expanding from a much smaller original location across the street. In its current location, shoppers can get fresh produce, but owner Jimmy Bousis said it was too small and needed time to move to this larger location.

“My vision is to better serve the community,” Busis said. “I started my business in the early 80s. The store I’m in now is really small, and I can’t really serve the community and give them what they need. My dream has always been to come here and go to a bigger store for Community service, thank you for your support over the years.”

For Bousis, it was a dream that began in 1987, when he first opened a small store across the street, his first grocery store in the Chicago area.

He started out knowing nothing about running a grocery store, but, today, He owns 10 stores in Chicago and his son owns 5 stores at Cermak Fresh Market.

Bousis said he will invest $7 million in the new 35,000-square-foot location, which he hopes to open as a full-service grocery store by November.

video: Alder. Roberto Maldonado (26th District) discusses access to healthy food in the Humboldt Park community and what makes the community special.

Another change in this community is the district hospital.

Early last year, the Norwegian American Hospital Renamed to Humboldt Park Health.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Abha Agrawal said it was a response to what was happening: the pandemic has illuminated health inequalities in unprecedented ways.

The name now reflects the Humboldt Park community and the hospital’s goal of providing more health, not just meeting urgent medical needs.

The hospital treats a large number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but also treats a large number of patients with mental health needs, as well as young and LGBTQ populations.

“Social determinants of health determine 30 to 40 percent of our health, and I would say only 10 percent of health outcomes are directly affected by what we do in the hospital,” Agrawal said. “We have to address the social determinants of health.”

To that end, the hospital plans to break ground in the next few weeks on a new state-of-the-art health center in the subdivision between Richmond and Sacramento.

Rendering of the planned Humboldt Park Health Center. (Courtesy: Humboldt Park Health)

It will include a walking trail, fitness facilities, a swimming pool and spaces for physical therapy and community gatherings.

“This is the landmark we expected,” she added. “It’s going to change the whole makeup of this community, saying yes, Humboldt Park can have a beautiful building that will promote the health of Humboldt Park.”

Agrawal said this is just the first phase of a wider health district plan. They hope to introduce more affordable housing in the second phase, which is also a social determinant of health.

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