Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first enters Illinois by crossing the Wabash River at Mount Carmel. This expedition was Spain’s longest into Native America.
The 1850 U.S. census reports that Illinois has 50 Mexican residents. The Mexican Consulate is established in Chicago.
The 1900 census reports 156 people of Mexican descent in Illinois. Mexicans and Chicanos are recruited to work on the Chicago railroad. The number of people of Mexican descent documented in Illinois is 672. Railroad companies bring hundreds of Mexicans to Chicago’s Near West Side because this is where the hub of railroad companies are located and one of the few places where Mexicans find affordable housing.
The restriction on European immigration in concert with wartime economic boom and labor shortage results in a demand for railroad and industrial labor. This fuels a demand for Mexican labor.
The number of people of Mexican descent in Illinois jumps to 4,592. Postwar industrial depression. Chicago Packinghouse workers begin to strike and employers seeking relief hire Mexicans.
Mexicans established the first local Mexican church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in South Chicago.
Dedication Ceremony of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Chicago on September 30.
1930 Approximately 21,000 Mexicans reside in Illinois.
1930-1940 Chicago Societies is the first Mexican American Political Club designed to promote informed voting in East Chicago.
1935 El Frente Popular Mexicano, a group with leftist ties to organized labor in Mexico, is established in Illinois.
1937 Mexican workers are among strikers and supporters beaten, arrested, and murdered by Chicago police during the infamous Republic Steel Mill Strike.
1940 The number of Mexicans in Illinois is 23,545.
1943 The Mexican Civic Committee is formed.
1950s Mexicans establish branches of civil rights organizations already active in the Southwest. This includes the GI Forum and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
1950 There are 34,538 Mexicans in Illinois.
1960 There are over 63,000 Mexicans documented in Illinois.
Casa Aztlan is established in Chicago.
1966 On June 12, the Puerto Rican community feeling a sense of neglect, marginalization, and despair and further fueled by police brutality rebels in what became known as the Division Street Riots.
1970 There are 117,268 Mexicans living in Illinois.
1977 The Chicago-Colombia Lions Club is founded.
1978 The Puerto Rican People’s Parade is first held in response to the murder of two youth by Chicago police.
1982 Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ located in Chicago, only the second Church in the United States to participate in the Sanctuary Movement, illegally houses Central American families attempting to escape political violence in their homelands. Casa Guatemala is founded in Chicago to provide support for Guatemalans and Latin Americans. Centro Romero is founded in Chicago in honor of Archbishop Oscar Romero by Salvadoran refugees to continue the archbishop’s work of aiding Central American refugees escaping political and violent turmoil.
1987 The Mexican Fine Art Center Museum opens.
1992 The Puerto Rican Organization for Political Action files a suit to require the Chicago Board of Election Commission to provide Spanish-speaking voters with instructions and assistance in Spanish.
2002 The Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation is formed.
2006 Latino activists and Illinois residents join the Immigrant Rights Marches held in several cities and towns in Illinois.