The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to make the arch an official Chicago landmark, bringing a months-long effort to a close. The designation also marks the first time a Mexican architect’s work has been granted landmark status.
As the neighborhood has been rocked by COVID-19 and, more recently, by the devastating loss of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega, Rodriguez said he sees his community use its strength to come together time and time again.
For him, and for other Little Village residents, the arch is a powerful symbol.
The arch spans West 26th Street in the Southwest side neighborhood, symbolically welcoming residents and visitors to “the Mexican capital of the Midwest” and serving as an entry point into one of the liveliest commercial corridors in Chicago, only second to North Michigan Avenue in gross retail sales, according to a report by the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.
An estimated 77 percent of Little Village’s population are of Mexican descent, according to city data.
Lifelong Little Village resident Cristy Calderon, 24, hopes the landmark status will bring positive attention to the neighborhood.
“It means the world,” Calderon said. “Growing up, it felt like it was the forgotten place in the city. I think having a landmark in our community is really going to bring people in and show what we’re really about.”