Belmont-Cragin
Belmont-Cragin

Belmont-Cragin

Origins Settled by George Merrill in 1835 and annexed in 1889
Area Northwest Side
Boundaries

Belmont Avenue on the north, Railroad tracks on the south, Kenton on the east, Nashville Avenue on the west

Gangs headquartered Latin Pachucos, Latin Brothers, Milwaukee Kings, Latin Stylers, Spanish Gangster Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers, Imperial Gangsters, Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras,

The area was first settled in the year 1835 by George Merrill that settled at the present day intersection of Armitage and Grand. A short time later Merrill opened a saloon out of his home that catered to many travelers.  The saloon was heard about by many of travelers and business thrived for Merrill as this intersection became known as “Whiskey Point.”

It was not until 1862 when another arrived interested in buying land named Michael Moran who built a hotel at Whiskey Point.  The area still remained barren until 1882 when the Cragin Brothers Manufacturing Company opened their doors at the intersection of Leclaire and Homer.  Very shortly after the opening of Cragin Brothers Manufacturing the area’s population grew and by 1889 the area was annexed into the city of Chicago but had no name of its own except that it was part of Jefferson Township.

Swedish, German and Irish immigrants were the first residents of this area, then by the 1920s Polish and Italians arrived in the neighborhood as manufacturing jobs became plentiful.

The 1930s were not harsh on this neighborhood, in fact, it faired quite well as subdivisions continued to be built.  In the 1930s the area got its name “Belmont-Cragin” from the nearby Belmont Gardens area combined with the Cragin Brothers manufacturing that gave the area jobs.

In the 1940s several strip malls and scores of other shopping centers were built in the neighborhood as life in this community was excellent.

In the 1950s and 1960s greaser gangs loved these streets and would sometime get into violent altercations with each other.

In the year 1965 the notorious Chi-West gang settled on these streets at Armitage and Cicero which became the first major street gang to settle this neighborhood.  Chi-West would be a group geared toward keeping undesirables out of the neighborhood.  Armitage and Cicero is a bustling intersection and would became a coveted street corner in years to come.

By the later 1960s the notorious Gaylords became very interested in Belmont-Cragin as the frequented Manor Bowl bowling alley on Cicero Avenue.  In the year 1967, the Gaylords officially established themselves in this community and were prepared to keep the neighborhood free of undesirables.  In 1969, the group started the Reinberg School Gaylords and soon after that in 1969 one new section of Gaylords after another started up in Belmont-Cragin.  Belmont-Cragin was now a major Gaylord territory.

In the year 1971, the Playboys arrived in the neighborhood that would assist the Gaylords in protecting this neighborhood from outsiders.  The Playboys opened in Cragin Park and Diversey and Cicero.  As the Playboys arrived Chi-West left the area in 1971.

During these golden years the Gaylords, Jousters and Playboys fought other white gangs they considered undesirables.  They sought out seedy elements and removed them.

The Gaylords dominated the neighborhood and invited the Taylor Jousters to occupy the neighborhood by the late 1970s.  The Jousters favored the Hanson Park area as their territory.  Both gangs were on high alert as a new Hispanic migration wave came to Austin and Belmont-Cragin in 1980.

It all began in 1980 with the arrival of the Spanish Cobras at the busy intersection of Armitage and Cicero that was once Chi-West turf.  The Gaylords mainly claimed this area as theirs and once they found out Spanish Cobras were here, they almost destroyed them until the Spanish Cobras worked out an agreement.  In not much time the Gaylords would no longer be active in the Armitage Cicero area and that’s when Spanish Cobras took over.  The Spanish Cobras became the first Hispanic gang on the streets of Belmont-Cragin.  This was also the starting point of Spanish Cobra northwest side settlement that would eventually become their strongest operational area in the city.

The 1980s decade would bring problems to the neighborhood as manufacturing industries were closed down or wages were cut, this left the area to not be as prosperous and property values began to fall.  Mexican and Puerto Rican migration finally arrived in the neighborhood and now white gangs were battling the migratory Hispanic gangs that came with them like the Latin Brothers, Maniac Latin Disciples, Milwaukee Kings, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Jivers, Insane Dragons and Insane Unknowns.  Hansen Park became the center of all the gang violence especially by the later 1980s.  The Maniac Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Spanish Cobras and Latin Brothers were the most successful of the Hispanic gangs as these groups all battled Taylor Jousters, Playboys and Gaylords.  Dragons, Imperial Gangsters, Jivers, Cobras, Disciples and Milwaukee Kings were all bound to the Folk alliance and Gaylords, Playboys and Insane Unknowns were People alliance.  Milwaukee Kings and Insane Dragons proved to bring tough sections; hence, why they still exist in Belmont-Cragin in present years.

It now became clear that Belmont-Cragin was in a state of crisis due to rising poverty and a rise in gang violence.  By the 1990s many of Belmont-Cragins’ white population had fled the neighborhood in favor of the suburbs, thus, decreasing Gaylord and Taylor Jouster populations.  The Gaylords would close all their Belmont-Cragin territory during the 1990s.  The Playboys didn’t even see a day of the 90s as they closed right at the beginning of the year withdrawing from Cragin Park.  The Taylor Jousters were all that was left by the mid-1990s and they continued to gang bang heavily against Hispanic gangs.  The Jousters had no allies except what was left of the Gaylords.

In the 1990s the Hispanic gangs were not as tight as interalliance gang wars developed.  Newly arriving Hispanic gangs like, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Stylers, Latin Kings, Latin Pachucos, Spanish Four Corner Hustlers, and Ashland Vikings added to the gang crowded environment causing bloody gang wars.  Spanish Four Corner Hustlers were created on these streets that was a new Four Corner Hustler branch for Hispanic youths.  The gang grew very large starting in 1991.  The Latin Pachucos arrive in 1992 arriving in Blackhawk Park as the Gaylords withdrew.  Latin Pachucos began hanging out in Hanson Park in 1995 after Taylor Jousters began to fade, there was conflict for the park until in 1997 the Jouster fully retired and gave the park to the Pachucos.  The Pachucos would become a permanent part of this neighborhood into present years.  The Latin Stylers would establish turf which is presently one of their only turfs remaining open in present years.

Drug turf gang wars plagued this community in the 1990s as the Hispanic gangs fought vicious gang wars with each other.  Belmont-Cragin has toned down the violence in the 21st century but some gang problems still exist especially by Hanson Park.

It now became clear that Belmont-Cragin was in a state of crisis due to rising poverty and a rise in gang violence.  By the 1990s many of Belmont-Cragins’ white population had fled the neighborhood in favor of the suburbs, thus, decreasing Gaylord and Taylor Jouster populations. The Playboys faded right away in 1990.

In the year 1991, the Four Corner Hustlers brought a new concept to this community by started a Hispanic Four Corner Hustler set known as “Spanish Four Corner Hustlers.”  Over time this group became very popular with Hispanic youths in Belmont-Cragin.

Drug turf gang wars plagued this community in the 1990s as the Hispanic gangs fought vicious gang wars with each other.  The Gaylords left the area by the mid-1990s while Taylor Jousters began to become semi-retired by 1995.  In 1997 the Jousters retired and allowed the Latin Pachucos to take over Hanson Park.

Belmont-Cragin has toned down the violence in the 21st century but some gang problems still exist especially by Hanson Park.  Gaylords left Belmont-Cragin by the end of the 1990s.

Some groups faded out of existence on these streets by the 2000s like Insane Unknowns, Latin Jivers and Ashland Vikings while groups like Gangster Disciples and Spanish Gangster Disciples made their way onto these streets and establishing a permanent settlement here especially the Spanish Gangster Disciples.

During the last three decades the dominating gangs have been: Maniac Latin disciples, Spanish Cobras, Spanish Four Corner Hustlers and Latin Brothers.  The two largest gangs are Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Four Corner Hustlers.

In the 1970s Gaylords ruled this neighborhood.

In the 1980s Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Latin Brothers and Taylor Jousters ruled this neighborhood.

In the 1990s Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Latin Brothers, Spanish Four Corner Hustlers and Imperial Gangsters ran this neighborhood.

In recent decades Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Latin Brothers and Spanish Four Corner Hustlers are the most powerful groups.

This is the list of major gangs that have walked these streets over time:

Milwaukee Kings 80s-present years

Altgeld to Belden, Meade to Marmora (Riis Park, Swift City, M-Town) 80s-present years

Gaylords Established 1969-mid-1990s

Belden & Knox Established 1984-mid 1990s

Cicero & Wrightwood Established 1969

George & McVicker (Mary Lyon School) Established 1969-mid-1990s

Kenton and Warwick

Oakdale & Long Established 1984-mid 1990s

Palmer & Leclaire

Cicero & School (Century Bowl) Established 1969-1969

Belden & Lavergn (Blackhawk Park) Established 1969-1992

Belden & Major Established 1969

Fullerton & Monitor Established 1969

Austin & Diversey Established 1969-1980s

Central & Belmont (Manor Bowl) Established 1967-1969

Altgeld & Cicero (St. Genevieve Catholic School) Established 1984-mid 1990s

Imperial Gangsters 1980s-present years

Fullerton to Grand, Mango to Central Ave (Belden City) 1980s-present years

George to Diversey, Central to Linder

Altgeld & Lavergne

Altgeld & Parkside 1990s-present years

Deming Pl & Leclaire

Grand & Austin

Beldon & Mason (Bloody Murder)

Wrightwood & La Vargne 90s-present years

Latin Pachucos Established 1992-present years

Grand to Fullerton, Central Ave to Laramie Established 1997 (Hanson Park)

Grand & Mango 1992-1995

Fullerton & La Vergne (Blackhawk Park) Established 1992-1992

Insane Popes (north side group)

Fullerton to Grand, Central Ave to Laramie

Latin Kings 90s-present

Diversey & Major 90s, 2000s

Wellington & Lockwood 2010s-present

George Keating 90s

Four Corner Hustlers Established 1991-present years

Waveland to Addison, Lavergne to Kilpatrick (Spanish 4CH)

Diversey to Fullerton, Long to Laramie (Spanish 4CH)

Laramie to Central, Diversey to Fullerton (Spanish 4CH)

Altgeld & Lockwood (Spanish 4CH) 1991-present years

Two Six

Belden & Major

Ashland Vikings 90s, 2010s

Altgeld & Laramie

Wrightwood & Laramie 90s, 2010s

Hell’s Devils Established 1978-1982

Diversey & Major Established 1978-1982

Latin Jivers 80s, 90s, 2000s

Barry & Linder 80s, 90s, 2000s

Insane Dragons 80s-present years

Palmer & Kilpatrick 80s-present years

Diversey & Austin 80s, 90s

Spanish Cobras Established 1980-present years

Armitage to Grand, Cicero to La porte (Cicero Assassins) Established 1980-present years

George to Diversey, Lavergne to Cicero

Latin Brothers Established 1985-present years

Roscoe to Belmont, Lavergne to Cicero (Brother City) Established 1985-present years

Barry to Wellington, Lotus to Laramie (Trojan’s Point) Established 1985-present years

Natchez & Palmer Established 1985-1990s

Insane Unknowns 80s, 90s, 2000s

Armitage & Kilpatrick

Grand & Mobile 80s, 90s

Dickens & Mobile 80s

Wrightwood & Laramie 2000s

Familia Stones

George & Laramie

Gangster Disciples

Austin & Diversey (After Death)

Maniac Latin Disciples 80s-present years

Fullerton to Grand, Merrimac to Moody (Riis Park)

Grand to Dickens, Marmora to Major

Palmer to Dickens, Mobile to Melvina (Death Trap Pimps) 90s-present years

Wellington & Parkside 80s-present years

Fullerton & Austin

Grand & Narragansett

Mobile & George

Mobile & Wrightwood

Palmer & Moody

Diversey & Major 2010s-present years

Playboys Established 1971-1990

Diversey & Cicero Established 1971 as Playboys

Wrightwood & Laramie Established 1971-1990 as Playboys (Cragin Park)

Spanish Gangster Disciples 2000s-present years

George to Diversey, Austin to Marmora 2000s-present years

Taylor Jousters 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s

Fullerton to Grand, Central Ave to Laramie (Hanson Park) 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s

Wrightwood to Fullerton, Meade to Narragansett Established 1987-1991 (Riis Park)

Stoned Freaks 80s

Belmont & Central Ave 80s

Chi-West Established 1965-1971

Armitage & Cicero 1965-1971

Latin Stylers 90s-present years

Belden & Lawler