West Humboldt Park is a working-class community with a rich Puerto Rican heritage — although demographics are shifting as gentrification sweeps westward. Take a walk through the neighborhood and you will find a thriving arts community, residents who are engaged in anti-violence efforts and longtime business owners who hope things don’t change too much.
West Humboldt Park is full of architectural treasures like this building on West North Avenue.
Artist Bernard Williams worked with the Black/Brown Working Group of West Humboldt Park to create this untitled mural on West North Avenue.
Murals like this one, by John Pitman Weber and Bernard Williams, have become a staple in the neighborhood.
They often incorporate elements of race, identity, immigration and housing — issues that are important to those living in the community.
Brian Herrera, 18, a West Humboldt Park artist and activist, admires this mural by Damon Lamar. He says he often walks the neighborhood looking for inspiration.
Herrera gets ready to spray paint a new work. He says he has noticed many new works popping up around the neighborhood.
And many old ones, too. This one was sponsored by the Youth Service Group.
Members of Bomba Con Buya practice traditional Afro-Puerto Rican music in their rehearsal space on West Division Avenue.
They strive to create music that is close to their roots and quite forgotten to Puerto Ricans in the United States.
Buya means ‘good spirit’ in Taino, the language spoken among Puerto Rico’s indigenous population.
Elizabeth Ramirez, front right, attends a vigil for victims of violence in the West Humbold Park neighborhood on March 26.
Ramirez’s son Harry David Rodriguez Jr. was shot and killed at his own surprise birthday party in 2011.
The Rev. Ruben Escobar Pepin talks about his affiliation with gangs at an early age. Next to him is Rev. Johnny Dodd.
Parents from Humboldt Park and West Humboldt park joined the rally to address both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia about the violence in Chicago neighborhoods.
G.I Perry, left, has been a West Humboldt Park resident for decades. He has been coming to Franklin Williams’ barber shop for years.
As Williams cuts Perry’s hair on March 31, he talks about gentrification in the neighborhood. He says he’s afraid of how it might change the neighborhood.
Mary Washington, another longtime West Humboldt Park resident, works in a boutique on West Chicago Avenue. She says the neighborhood has been plagued with violence, but she has seen improvements in recent years.