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City to Sell Plot Next to City's Oldest Puerto Rican Mural for $1

HUMBOLDT PARK — A city-owned plot next to Chicago's oldest Puerto Rican mural will be sold to the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park for $1 in a deal approved by the city council last month.

"La Crucifixion de Don Pedro Albizu Campos," at 2425 W. North Ave., was painted in 1971 to commemorate the life of Pedro Albizu Campos, a revolutionary and leading figure in the Puerto Rican fight for independence from the United States.

According to the city, it is the oldest Puerto Rican mural in Chicago.

Campos and eight other Puerto Rican revolutionaries depicted in the mural are credited with helping to improve labor conditions in Puerto Rico as well as the relationship between the territory and the United States.

The deal is the latest in a long saga for the mural, which was almost covered up in 2001 when a developer wanted to build condominiums on the land next to it, said Peter Strazzabosco, spokesman for the city's Department of Housing and Development.

The community rallied, and in 2004, the city bought the 3,000-square-foot piece of land to ensure the mural's survival, Strazzabosco said.

The cultural center has been leasing the plot, valued at $42,000, ever since, cleaning it up and adding benches and plant boxes.

"The cultural center, which restored the mural in 2010, will maintain and upgrade the site as a passive space where community residents, school groups and cultural enthusiasts can learn about the history of the Puerto Rican community," said a statement from the Department of Housing and Economic Development.

Cultural center spokesman Juan Manuel Calderon said there are not yet any firm plans for the garden plot now that the center will own it.