Humboldt Park, Chicago
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|— Community area —|
|Community Area 23 - Humboldt Park|
|Median household income||$29,605|
Humboldt Park is one of 77 officially designated community areas located on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois. The Humboldt Park neighborhood is widely known for its large Puerto Rican presence. Humboldt Park is also the name of a 207-acre (0.8 km²) park adjacent to the community area.
Boundaries and Subsections 
The official community boundaries established by the City of Chicago include Bloomingdale Ave to the north, the Union Pacific railroad tracks to the south, the train tracks running between Kostner and Cicero to the west, and Humboldt Park proper to the east.
In conventional use, the neighborhood's borders include Western Avenue to the east, Pulaski Road to the west, North Avenue to the North, and the Union Pacific tracks to the south. The railyards southeast of Grand and Sacramento are also part of the community area. There are two distinct areas of Humboldt Park: East Humboldt Park and West Humboldt Park, divided by Sacramento Boulevard. Both sides have large Hispanic populations, the bulk of which is of Puerto Rican origin.
East Humboldt Park 
East Humboldt Park is east of Sacramento Boulevard. The area is in the process of gentrification. Most residents on this side of Humboldt Park are middle class residents. In fact, the area has the largest middle class Puerto Rican community in the Midwest. The area is home to many Puerto Rican cultural institutions, as well as two sixty feet Puerto Rican flags on Division Street.
The park was named for Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist and geographer famed for his five-volume work Cosmos: Draft of a Physical Description of the World. His single visit to the United States did not include Chicago. Humboldt Park is part of Chicago's Boulevard Park System, which flanked the Loop with large parks linked with boulevards. The park is lined with graystone houses.
Chicago annexed most of the neighborhood in 1869, the year the park was laid out. Because the area lay just beyond the city's fire code jurisdiction, as set out after the 1871 fire, this made low cost construction possible.
The neighborhood has been a center for many ethnic groups over the years, including Polish, German, African American and Puerto Rican.
Our Lady of the Angels School Fire occurred at the Our Lady of Angels School on December 1, 1958 in the Humboldt Park area. The school, which was operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, lost 92 students and three nuns in five classrooms on the second floor.
In the 1970s, Humboldt Park became more dangerous with high levels of gang activity, crime, and violence. The neighborhood continues to be economically depressed, with housing values below the city-wide average. Overcrowding remains a serious problem, as does gang activity and violent crime. Gentrification, beginning in the late 1990s, along with changing police tactics, and cultural, political and social organizations, have changed the demographics, politics, economy and crime rates of the area.
Puerto Rican Community 
As early as the 1950s, Puerto Ricans settled in Humboldt Park. Many came directly from Puerto Rico as migration was averaging over ten thousand Puerto Ricans per year in the 1950s and 1960s, throughout the United States. Others came from the local neighborhoods of Old Town and Lincoln Park, displaced by gentrified. The infamous Division Street Riots resulted in the start of organizations for Puerto Rican rights in 1966. Organizations like the L.AD.O.(Latin American Defense Organization), S.A.C.C.(Spanish Action Committee of Chicago) and the Caballeros de San Juan and Damas de Maria, helped to slow down the riot caused by a police shooting of an unarmed youth. At another smaller riot in 1969, the Young Lords worked with criminal gangs like the Latin Kings, the Spanish Cobras, the Latin Disciples and the above mentioned community organizations to build unity and to redirect youth energies toward empowerment strategies. There were several solidarity marches from Lincoln Park to Humboldt Park and to City Hall; demanding social services, an end to police brutality and an end to neighborhood displacement.
In 1995 city officials and Puerto Rican-American activists in a symbolic gesture to recognize the neighborhood and the Puerto Rican residents' roots, christened a stretch of Division Street "Paseo Boricua". Two metal 59 feet (18 m)-tall Puerto Rican flags, each weighing 45 tons, arch over the street at each end of the strip.
Over time a culture center was established, and the offices of local Puerto Rican politicians relocated their offices to Division Street. Recently,[when?] the City of Chicago has set aside money for Paseo Boricua property owners who want to restore their buildings' facades.
It is the only officially recognized Puerto Rican neighborhood in the nation. Today Paseo Boricua is the first location outside the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to be granted the right to fly an official municipal flag of Puerto Rico.
Institute of Puerto Rican arts and culture 
With the support of the community, Puerto Rican leaders in Chicago leased the historic Humboldt Park stables near Paseo Boricua that house the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, its the only museum in the nation that is completely dedicated to the history of Puerto Rican culture and the Puerto Rican diaspora. About $3.4 million was spent to renovate the exterior of the building and another $3.2 million for the interior.
Cultural references to the community 
Humboldt Park figures prominently in the literary works that chronicled Chicago's blue collar life in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Saul Bellow's Adventures of Augie March charts the long drifting life of a Jewish Chicagoan and his myriad eccentric acquaintances throughout the early 20th century: growing up in the then Polish neighborhood of Humboldt Park, he ends up cavorting with heiresses on the Gold Coast, studying at the University of Chicago, fleeing union thugs in the Loop, and taking the odd detour to hang out with Trotsky in Mexico while eagle-hunting giant iguanas on horseback.
- John Guzlowski's Lightning and Ashes chronicles the author's experiences growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, in the context of Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish Cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians.
Humboldt Park has also been featured in film.
- The Horn Blows at Midnight, a 1945 film starring Jack Benny, Margaret Dumont, and Alexis Smith, also features Humboldt Park. Benny portrays an angel sent from heaven to blow his horn at an appointed time and destroy the world. However, because the angel hasn't lived on Earth for several centuries, he becomes totally lost in modern Chicago. He floats from one misadventure to the next, including a visit to Humboldt Park during an ethnic German picnic, where he encounters Germans in traditional garb enjoying traditional German food and music. Ultimately the angel refuses to blow his horn, arguing to God that the kindness and goodness displayed by the Chicagoans he met warrants saving the world, not destroying it. God agrees.
- Nothing Like the Holidays, starring Freddy Rodriguez, John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Alfred Molina, Jay Hernandez, Ramses Jimenez, Luis Guzman, Melonie Diaz, Vanessa Ferlito and Elizabeth Peña, follows three siblings returning to their parents' home in Humboldt Park for the holidays.
Chicago Public Schools operates district public schools.
- Paral, Rob. "Chicago Demographics Data". Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- Paral, Rob. "Chicago Census Data". Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- "Humboldt Park". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Noble Street - Rowe-Clark." Chicago Public Schools. Retrieved on April 14, 2011.
- "UNO Charter Schools." United Neighborhood Organization. Retrieved on June 16, 2012.
- Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Official City of Chicago Humboldt Park Community Map
- a Latino resource
- Humboldt Park
- Humboldt Park Arts, Culture, Gentrification, Immigration
- Chicago Humboldt Park map
- Census map
- 2010 Census link
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