Mexican immigration to the Hull House and 18th Street community areas of Chicago, Illinois, 1910-1960
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This study is a brief history of the Mexicanos and Chicanos from about 1910-1960 in the Hull House and 18th Street communities of Chicago. Little contemporary research has been done in these areas, although in the period under study the Hull House area contained the oldest and the largest of Chicago's Mexican "Colonias." The 18th Street community is included not only because today it is the single largest Mexicano settlement in Chicago but because it is the author's contention that this community is the progeny of the older Hull House "Colonia." Today, the expansion of the Mexicano community, stimulated by a tremendous upsurge in immigration, has in turned transformed the community known as 26th Street into an extension of the 18th Street community. While the City of Chicago chooses to clearly divide these neighborhoods into the Pilsen (18th Street) and Little Village (26th Street) communities, they are nonetheless a single entity. Finally, on a more personal note, my interest in these areas rests on the premise that I myself am a product of the three aforementioned communities. The purpose of this paper is to examine the social, economic and cultural aspects of the Mexicanos in these areas in historical perspective. This includes the impact of immigration and its social consequences. Propelled by various forces Mexicanos crossed "la frontera" and traveled to the industrial north. In Chicago they encountered the same forces of racism and exploitation which had greeted earlier immigrants. As expendable commodities they were offered only the hardest, dirtiest and lowest paying jobs: in essence work that no one else wanted. For the most part unskilled, unprepared or trained in skills ill-suited for employment, the Mexican worker was soon found to honest and hard working. This virtue, coupled with their dexterity and perseverance, earned them recognition and respect. If this image had not been projected earlier it was due to prejudices, misinformation or lack of information. Therefore this study challenges the unfounded stereotype of the lazy, immoral, dirty, cowardly and simple Mexicano. In its stead emerges a heterogeneous group of bronzed people, strong, proud, honest, hard working and dignified who were and are determined to make a better life for themselves, their families and their "paisanos"