As the Humboldt Park neighborhood’s name indicates, it was once a German enclave, but since the 1960s, it’s been the heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community.
In 1995, that identity was solidified in steel when two 60-foot-high Puerto Rican flags were planted over Division Street, also known as Paseo Boricua. Now, the flags are poised to receive landmark status from the city.
Commission on Chicago Landmarks member Alicia Ponce says even as the neighborhood continues to change, the flags stand as an important reminder of culture and character.
“It’s the largest sculpture in the U.S. that demonstrates this flag and we’re very proud to have this gateway in the Paseo Boricua. It’s really important for the city to be able to demonstrate cultural heritage, the preservation of the Puerto Rican cultural heritage because we can celebrate the stories of our city,” Ponce said. “It serves as an education piece, it serves for tourism and it’s a way of planting roots, laying down the roots and saying that the community is here and we’re not going anywhere.”
The Chicago Commission on Landmarks unanimously approved landmark designation for the flags April 7, but it must pass a City Council vote before the landmark status becomes official.