Humboldt Park located on the west side of Chicago, Illinois, is one of 77 officially designated Chicago community areas. The name may be used to describe the area as a community or the actual 207 acre (0.8 kmÂ²) park itself. The neighborhood is predominantly Puerto Rican.
In conventional use, the neighborhood's borders include Western Avenue to the east, Pulaski Road to the west, Armitage Avenue to the North and Chicago Avenue to the south. The Humboldt Park Community Area, which many statistics about the area refer to, is west of that area; its borders are the Belt Railway on the west, just east of Cicero Avenue; the Union Pacific tracks to the south, along Kinzie Street; Bloomingdale Avenue on the north; and Humboldt Boulevard, Humboldt Park, and Sacramento Boulevard on the east. The railyards southeast of Grand and Sacramento are also part of the Community Area.
The park was named for Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist famed for his five-volume work, "Cosmos: Draft of a Physical Description of The World". Interestingly enough, his single visit to the United States did not include Chicago. The creation of Humboldt and several other west side parks provided beauty, linked together via Chicago's historic boulevard system. The park is flanked by large graystone homes.
Most of the neighborhood was annexed into the city in 1869, the year the park was laid out. The fact that this area stood just beyond the city's fire code jurisdiction as set out after the 1871 fire made inexpensively built housing possible.
As soon as the 1950s, Puerto Ricans settled the area. Many came directly from Puerto Rico as migration was averaging over ten thousand Puerto Ricans per year in the 1950s and '60s, throughout the United States,but most came from New York. Others came from the local neighborhoods of Old Town and Lincoln Park where a large prime real estate area of Chicago, near Lake Michigan and downtown, gentrified and displaced Puerto Ricans community from these neighborhood's . The infamous Division Street Riots resulted in the start of organizations for Puerto Rican rights in 1966. Organizations like the L.A.D.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.
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.
The 1970s saw troubled times for Humboldt Park. Gang activity, crime, and violence predominated the area. Overcrowding remains a serious problem. However, the neighborhood's Puerto Rican population, remains insistent on keeping and expanding a community through many housing, political, social, and economic initiatives like the Paseo Boricua business corridor on Division St between Western and California avenues where two 59 foot steel gateway-like Puerto Rican flags are planted.
Humboldt Park (little Puerto Rico) is the retail, residential and cultural capital of the Puerto Rican Midwest.
Chicago's Puerto Rican community also holds the Puerto Rican Day Parade in downtown Chicago which has surpassed The Mexican Independence Day parade, the Irish Pride Parade, and the Bud Billiken Parade and has become the largest parade in Chicago and in the Mid-West with an attendance of almost 2 million spectators.