Pedro Mateo is from Salinas, Puerto Rico and now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He first came to Grand Rapids in the 1950s, but quickly moved to Indiana Harbor to work in the steel mills alongside many other Puerto Rican immigrants of that era. Mr. Mateo describes the steel mill culture and the Puerto Rican community that developed in Indiana Harbor beginning in the 1940s. After a short time in Indiana Harbor, Mr. Mateo moved with his family to Van Buren Street near Ashland Avenue in Chicago, in the barrio area then known to Puerto Ricans as La Madison. In the 1960s, Mr. Mateo moved to Addison Ave. and Wilson Street, next to Wrigley Field. It was here that he first met the Young Lords. Mr. Mateo describes his daily travels by train to La Clark to work at “Las Gomas,” or a rubber factory, by New Orleans and Chicago Avenue. He ultimately returned to Grand Rapids, where his large, extended family plays a prominent role in the city’s Latino community.
Grand Valley State University. University Libraries. Special Collections & University Archives