Jaime di Paulo is the executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, di Paulo was recruited to come work with the thriving business community here. He sat down with 90 Days, 90 Voices to talk about how President Trump’s election has impacted Little Village, an oft-overlooked economic powerhouse.
Jimena migrated to the United States with her parents and two siblings when she was five years old. For a long time, she tried to suppress her memory of crossing the border. It wasn’t until she was a lot older that she was able say that it wasn’t a dream.
Alexander Tadlock, an artist born in California and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, was commissioned by the Mexican National Electoral Institute (INE) to paint a mural in Little Village. Located on 26th Street and Troy Street near the iconic Little Village Arch, Tadlock’s mural serves to persuade Mexican immigrants living in Chicago that if they register as voters in Mexico, their votes will be crucial in Mexico’s general elections that begin this July.
Ruben L. Garza, Jr. is the vocalist for Through N Through, a four-person band of Little Village natives who write music about their experiences growing up young and Latinx on the South Side. They are not the first to do so: punk bands like Los Crudos have become synonymous with the local music scene in Little Village and Pilsen by wearing their heritage on their sleeves. But Through N Through is different. Although Garza says he prefers the label “hardcore” for Through N Through’s music, the thick guitar tones, crushing palm-muted riffs, and cutting kick drum all show the band’s heavy metal roots bursting through to the surface, with Garza’s hardcore punk vocals adding a defiant and satisfying finish.
“Street art and vibrant murals are the best way to reimagine or reactivate these spaces completely in terms of culture, history, and Mexican lore.”
Little Village, bordering Pilsen, North Lawndale, and Cicero, is a neighborhood that comes with many a mythology, from the first port of call for many immigrants from Mexico and Central America to the oft-mentioned economic powerhouse that is 26th Street, with its blocks and blocks of quinceañera dress stores and botanicos. We interviewed some Chicagoans who call Little Village home about what makes the neighborhood tick.
On December 14, Mayor Rahm Emanuel spent the day in Little Village. He was the center of a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly completed Park 553, dubbed “La Villita” by residents and journalists, where he touted the twenty-two-acre site as one of several new green spaces opened during his time in office and a major victory for the park-starved neighborhood.