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Pilsen Gentrifying, But Not Where You Think, Student Says

By Chloe Riley | May 30, 2013 10:20am
 University of Chicago student Rachel Hyman's thesis, which focused on gentrification in Pilsen, found that Central Pilsen has seen a boom in whites over the past decade.
University of Chicago student Rachel Hyman's thesis, which focused on gentrification in Pilsen, found that Central Pilsen has seen a boom in whites over the past decade.
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DNAinfo/Chloe Riley

PILSEN — Student Rachel Hyman knows the poetry of Pilsen.

The 22-year-old — who also started a Chicago neighborhood literary site — just recently completed her thesis on gentrification in Pilsen.

While East Pilsen’s property values and income levels have gone up over the last 10 years, Hyman found that it was actually Central Pilsen that saw an almost 200 percent increase in the number of white residents, according to census data.

“It’s not so simple as gentrification pushing in from the east. It’s kind of more scattershot than that,” Hyman said.

Her research also found Pilsen’s gentrification isn’t happening at the rate of, say, Wicker Park, which in the '90s saw large jumps in rent and property values. In addition, Hyman said affordable housing provided by Pilsen developer The Resurrection Project has helped keep area rents from spiking. 

A geography student at the University of Chicago, Hyman just can’t get away from neighborhoods.

In January, she started the Anthology of Chicago, a collection of neighborhood-based stories and poetry.

So far, she’s tackled her own Hyde Park 'hood and is taking submissions for Pilsen and Logan Square through June 10.

After hearing Chicago described as the “Hog Butcher for the World” one too many times, Hyman was inspired to start her anthology.

“I feel like I’ve read that Carl Sandburg quote in almost every article ever written about Chicago,” she said, laughing.

“Chicago has a strong neighborhood culture. When it comes to a creative project like this, many people have taken inspiration from those neighborhoods, which make up the fabric of daily life,” Hyman said.