Jorge Huezo, 54,andGiovanni Rodas, 27, Lawrence and Winthrop Avenues
“It’s beautiful living next to the Red Line and being able to walk to the lakefront for barbecues,” says Rodas, a bartender who lives across the street from the Aragon Ballroom with his mother, Veronica Contreras, brother Ervin Rodas and stepfather Huezo, a security guard.
The walls of their rented four-bedroom apartment are covered with family photos and folk art from El Salvador and Guatemala, where Huezo and Contreras grew up, respectively. When the family moved to the apartment in the mid-’80s, they were the only Latinos on the block, which resulted in some initial hostility from some African-American neighbors. “My car got smashed a couple times,” Huezo says. “But after they got to know us they became friendly.”
Rodas used to play in the alley to avoid violence in the street. “If you walked from here to Argyle it went from black to Hispanic to Chinese gangs,” he says. “Back then there were only about three buildings on this street and Asian families used to grow vegetables in the vacant lots.” He says gangs are still an issue but not like before, and that changes brought by recent condo construction have been positive—generally. “Some [new] people are friendly but some are afraid and don’t want to talk,” Huezo says.