A well-known Chicago neighborhood took another step toward changing its name this week, as new banners are now welcoming visitors to “Northalsted” on the city’s North Side.
The neighborhood, known for years as Boystown, is moving toward a new name after the Northalsted Business Alliance voted to no longer use the term “Boystown” in marketing.
Now, new banners along Halsted Street proclaim the new name, but reactions are mixed.
“I think it’s a good thing,” neighborhood resident Phil Pesin said.
“As a fem-presenting queer person, I’m happy to see the change,” Natalie Hillmann said.
“I didn’t really mind Boystown,” Mike Lovette, who works in the neighborhood, added.
According to the alliance, the name was changed in an effort to work toward more inclusivity, especially for women, gender nonbinary individuals and people of color.
Charles Perkins, another area resident, sees the name change as a step in the right direction, but says more needs to be done to address underlying issues.
“I’m a little bit afraid that it doesn’t address the real problems that the neighborhood has with gentrification and some racist attitudes in bars and clubs,” Perkins said.
Perkins echoed sentiments of numerous residents in saying that he would like to see more diversity on local boards and councils.
The name change was undertaken after more than 1,500 people signed an online petition in the summer of 2020.
Lake Alen, acting executive director of the Northalsted Business Alliance, says that the new name focuses on geography, rather than gender.
“We were a vibrant gay community, LGBTQ+ community, before we used that name, and our organization not using that name isn’t going to change anything,” Alen said.
Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney confirms that the city never officially designated the enclave, which is technically part of Lake View, as “Boystown.”