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Gentrification in Humboldt Park: Chicago’s Colonization of a Puerto Rican Community

Chicago’s Northwest and West Sides have experienced gentrification for over four decades now. Humboldt Park is the newest neighborhood at the forefront of this ongoing process, which forces low-income, primarily Latinx families into unsustainable hardship. As a Puerto Rican community, Humboldt Park is well acquainted with displacement, most notably through Puerto Rico's colonial relationship with the United States. Gentrification is simply an extension of such colonial relationship, one that has been facilitated by the rhetorical claims of “rediscovery” by real estate developers and local media. Faced with such dire prospects, Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican community has responded with an approach of cultural reaffirmation, which has received heavy criticism by proponents of economic reform. Throughout this paper, I will chronicle the aforementioned process of gentrification, which I am presenting as urban colonialism, with two primary goals in mind: 1) to build a nuanced understanding of the gentrifiers (colonizers) role in Humboldt Park, while still attributing blame to them where due 2) pose an argument in favor of the cultural reaffirmation approach as a necessary and empowering response to colonialism by a historically colonized people.

Author: 
Randy Santiago
School: 
Cornell College
Department: 
English
Research Advisor: 
Dr. David Wilson
Department of Research Advisor: 
Geography & Geographic Information Science
Year of Publication: 
2017