Senate Democrats applaud announcement of 10 state-designated cultural districts

CHICAGO — Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus joined Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to celebrate communities across the state being honored as State-Designated Cultural Districts.

State Senator Natalie Toro, who represents Humboldt Park, is thrilled her community is being recognized in this way.

“The Humboldt Park community has such a rich and vibrant culture,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “The State-Designated Cultural Districts Program and this official designation allows us to share and preserve our heritage and traditions while building a critical foundation for continued investment.”

“In Illinois, diversity is our strength, and the State-Designated Cultural Districts Program is shining a much-deserved light on some of our state’s most culturally and historically rich communities, including Puerto Rico Town,” said Majority Caucus Chair Omar Aquino (D-Chicago). “These designations will help Illinoisans celebrate our lineage and traditions of our communities.”

State-Designated Cultural Districts are communities, towns or specific geographic areas that have a distinct shared historical and cultural identity that binds the community together. By designating these areas as Cultural Districts, communities can gain more support to preserve historic, culturally significant structures, as well as foster cultural development and education. The program also aims to celebrate communities’ unique cultural identities, elevate their traditions and languages, and encourage economic development to these vibrant areas.

“Bringing State-Designated Cultural Districts to Springfield is a monumental step in the right direction for the community and for the state,” said Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “These official designations are essential to preserving the history of our state, highlighting the legacy and significant contributions of Black Illinoisans from the Great Migration and onward.”

Since 2023, there have been a number of State-Designated Cultural Districts, including:

  • North First Street Cultural District, Champaign
  • Bronzeville District, Chicago
  • Chinatown, Chicago
  • Clark Street/Camino Street, Chicago
  • Mahalia Jackson 79th Street Cultural District, Chicago
  • Little Village, Chicago
  • Puerto Rico Town, Chicago
  • South Chicago Cultural District, Chicago
  • Central East Cultural District, Springfield
  • The Southtown Cultural District, Springfield

Recipients will be eligible to apply for $3 million in funding that will be tailored to fit the needs of individual Cultural Districts and support the goals of the program to foster economic development and help communities preserve their unique cultural identities. The state will launch the funding opportunity following the selection of the final five cultural districts.

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus highlighted the program’s work to preserve these historically diverse communities in the face of gentrification, which threatens to disrupt these important neighborhoods. With their designation, they hope these areas gain more economic attraction and continue to thrive as unique, celebratory spaces of their cultures for decades to come.

More information about the State-Designated Cultural Districts Program is available on DCEO’s website.