But what about the area west of the river? This is where things get a little more confusing, as East Pilsen is still quite industrious, but at the same time, is also undergoing some of the change that has been seen on the other side of the river. West Pilsen is now home mostly to shops, businesses and homes.
|With the occasional tracks to nowhere.|
The history of Pilsen is interesting in its own right, and I highly suggest reading up on it, but my focus is on the gradual decline of railroads, especially in the last decade. If you're interested on the history of neighborhood, I recommend this page from WTTW.
But from the photographer's perspective, it's quite easy to witness the gradual abandonment of railroad tracks in Pilsen.
|Look at all those railways. Almost every street had one! Image: 1929 USGS Englewood Map|
|Once used by the Central Illinois Railroad (CIRY) and later BNSF, this railroad crossing sits dormant and soon to be abandoned.|
|Rail bridge where the spur diverges to serve Pilsen. Image: Google Maps|
The spur has existed since at least the late 19th century according to maps, and once connected the tracks to docks on the Chicago River a mile or so south of here.
Using the magic of Google Maps, we can actually witness the abandonment in real time. Compare this Google Maps image from April 2009:
|Sangamon & Cullerton St April 2009: Google Maps|
|Rails are gone, but no trail. (Yet)|
|Some parts of the neighborhood appear to just have random railroad crossings as decorations.|
|Image: Google Maps|
|Railroad crossing Cermak. Image: Google Maps|
|Many businesses still have abandoned rail spurs in the neighborhood too. This one is off of Leavitt St.|
|Part of the wye as seen from Canalport Ave.|
|I can't wait to see what this looks like in trail form!|