One of the city’s more unusual examples of public art appear as welcoming monoliths on the stretch of Division Street just west of Western known as “Paseo Boricua” (or “Puerto Rican Promenade”), leading towards the sprawling expanse of Humboldt Park.
These are the matching, abstract sculptural representations of the Puerto Rican flag that arch over the street, 59 feet tall and weighing approximately 45 tons, in vibrant blue and red steel. Between the flags, one can find many Puerto Rican restaurants, stores, and other cultural attractions, and many first- and second-generation migrant families continue to live in the neighborhood.
The flags were erected in 1995, one of the second Daley Administration’s attempts to soothe and acknowledge the ongoing cultural divisions of this famously segregated city. Some saw this as a belated attempt to address the community concerns that years earlier had fueled the so-called “Puerto Rican riots” of 1966, sparked by concerns over police brutality and economic injustice.
Whatever the motivation, the flags undeniably had a positive and stabilizing effect on the neighborhood, conveying a sense of the community’s civic pride.