In addition to rehabbing two affordable housing properties at Borinquen Bella, the Latin United Community Housing Association has secured support to save two historic murals on the sites. The artworks, Honor Boricua and Rompiendo Las Cadenas, will be restored with help from the original artists and remain as a visible link to Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican past.
Facing the northeast corner of Rockwell and Evergreen, Pilsen-based artist Duarte’s Honor Boricua has been faded by the elements since its installation in 1992. Representing the cultural movement and exchanges between two countries, the mural depicts the Puerto Rican flag unfurling from Old San Juan to Chicago.
A few blocks north, on the corner of Rockwell and LeMoyne streets, Weber’s Rompiendo Las Cadenas (“Breaking the Chains”) sits one of the oldest surviving murals in the US. In it, Weber depicts the struggle of Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican residents, even illustrating the arson epidemic of the ‘70s when the community saw as many as three fires a day. Zoë Lukens, LUCHA’s development assistant, said the mural was so respected in the community that it has had only one minor graffiti incident since its installation in 1971.
During the building rehabilitation, area students will work with neighborhood organization Archi-treasures to add a temporary mural above the construction on plywood boards donated by the building crews.