PHOTO: Entrance to Chicago's Humboldt Park. (photo via Flickr/Richie Diesterheft) [/IMAGECAPTION
Despite the amnesia of many segments of American society, this country was created by immigrants and it's these varied cultures that make the U.S. so creative and exciting. Chicago also boasts a multicultural heritage, with dozens of distinct immigrant communities weaving their rich cultures into the fabric of the city.
Visitors might be familiar with Chinatown, the Mexican community of Pilsen or Little Italy but there are other smaller, fascinating cultures scattered around Chicago. The Chicago Cultural Alliance offers immersive cultural tours that highlight traditions, food, music and other aspects that visitors might not get to typically experience.
Each tour is guided by a community representative so participants receive an authentic perspective. Here are few neighborhood walks and ethnic community tours to explore:
Humboldt Park Neighborhood Walk
With two metal Puerto Rican flags that measure 60 feet waving over the main drag of Division Street, the Humboldt Park neighborhood vibrates with sights and sounds of Puerto Rico. Live salsa streams from bars and shops and eateries serving jibarito sandwiches (green plantains substitute for bread) line the avenues, but Humboldt Park was originally settled by German immigrants in the 1870s. The 90-minute walk will cover the area’s past and present history as well as visits to the Humboldt Park garden and boathouse La Casita cultural center, ending with a taste of pastelitos, flaky pastries filled with guava and cheese.
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Taste of Devon Neighborhood Walk
South Asian culture comes alive on Devon Avenue. Located on the far North side of the city, these vibrant ten block stretch supplies an array of Indian and Pakistani food, music, jewelry and attire, but this 90-minute exploration focuses only on a multi-sensory dining experience. The tour starts at Tiffin Restaurant and runs down Devon where the sari shops and music stores supply a lively backdrop. The walk ends back at Tiffin, where participants will taste a meal that includes dishes from all four regions of India.
Haitian and German Bus Tour
Hop on a bus to experience the cultural highlights of Haiti and Germany in one day. The four-hour tour features a visit to a Haitian art gallery and sample of pate, a pastry filled with savory filling. Then journey to a German secret society with a rooftop view and an intricate medieval meeting room.