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Lower West Side Tour: Sites A & B
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Site A
Exit the Ryan Expressway at 18th Street and go eight blocks west on 18th to May Street (1132 West). Almost beneath the expressway at 18th and Union is Providence of God Church (1927). Originally a Lithuanian parish. Providence of God is now one of Pilsen's most active Spanish-speaking parishes. In 1979 Pope John Paul II stopped here on his visit to Chicago, the only Hispanic parish included on his tour. More than just a center of worship for local families. Providence of God is known throughout the Lower West Side for its efforts on behalf of undocumented workers. Few families in Pilsen are untouched by the plight of the undocumented. Despite the constant threat of deportation, men and women from Mexico make the long trip to Pilsen where they are willing to work for low wages.

At 18th and Halsted is the Pilsen East Artists Colony, established in the 1960s by John Podmajersky and his wife, Ann. A lifelong resident of Pilsen, Podmajersky has rehabbed buildings along Halsted Street for use as artists' studios. An estimated 300 sculptors, painters, ceramicists, photographers, writers, and actors now live in buildings which were once used as finishing shops for the West Side garment district. Each October, the local residents sponsor an art fair which draws patrons from all over the city. (18th Street jogs to the right at Halsted)

Site B
Turn left at May Street, go south to 19th Street, then turn right and go one block west on 19th to Racine Avenue (1200 West). Turn right and go north on Racine back to 18th Street. One of the few new buildings to be constructed in Pilsen during the past twenty years is Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (1965) at the northwest corner of 19th and Racine. It contrasts sharply with neighboring buildings that date from the 1880s when Pilsen was a predominantly Bohemian neighborhood. Established as a Bohemian Presbyterian church, Emmanuel is now a Spanish-speaking congregation formed by the merger of three local churches in 1960.

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