Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)
Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)

Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)

Origins Settled by John F. Eberhart in 1871 and annexed in 1889
Area Southwest Side
Boundaries

59th Street on the north, railroad tracks just north of 75th Street on the south, Western Ave on the east, South Central Park Avenue on the west

Gangs founded Krazy Get Down Boys, Tall Arabian Posse,
Gangs headquartered Krazy Get Down Boys, La Raza, Akrhos (Flip City Kings),

In the year 1871 this area was purchased by John F. Eberhart who founded the “City Of Chicago Lawn” which was a part of Lake Township at the time since 1850.

This community of Chicago Lawn was meant to be a small farming town of German and Irish immigrants for many years to come, even during the time of annexation in 1889.  It was not until the 1920s that there was interest in developing this neighborhood as Polish, Bohemian, Arab and Lithuanians arrived.

Chicago Lawn did not suffer during the Great Depression years in the 1930s and actually evolved into the “Lithuanian Gold Coast” by the 1940s as this decade saw the best years for the neighborhood that had a very strong Lithuanian culture that could boast they had the richest savings and loans in the city.

Chicago Lawn, more known as Marquette Park, was one of the few neighborhoods that had an Arab community.  In the year 1948 when the Israel state was created many more Arab families migrated to Marquette Park mainly living along 63rd Street as they built many mosques and Arab businesses.

In the 1950s decade Marquette Park developed several white greaser gangs that were a part of a very tough breed.  The greasers of Marquette Park would battle with the greaser clubs of nearby Back of The Yards, Gage Park and West Englewood.

By the mid-1960s many of the greaser gangs began focusing their attention toward the arrival of African Americans that planned to settled in nearby West Englewood and the east side of Marquette Park.

The white community, not just the gangs, reacted violently to the city’s plan to move African Americans into Marquette Park and Gage Park.  Racist groups arrived in the 1960s and 1970s like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party that came here to violently force blacks out.  The street gangs the “White Knights” formed in the 1970s that worked to stomp out invading blacks and black gangs.

In 1966 Martin Luther King led a march through Gage Park and Marquette Park to protest the segregated housing in this area; this led to him being hit with a rock.  The Black P Stones street gang escorted Dr. King and this led to fights between white greaser clubs and the Black P Stones.  At the time Black P Stones were moving into the nearby West Englewood neighborhood so ongoing gang wars would ensue after the march.

The Lithuanian culture had fears that African Americans settling in the neighborhood would depreciate the neighborhood and ruin their savings bonds that were vested in their properties; if the property values went way down their savings could be badly affected.  The settling of African Americans prompted massive white flight in many other neighborhoods which resulted in several socioeconomic problems; Lithuanians of Marquette Park feared this disinvestment would happen here.

The American Nazi Party opened their Chicago headquarters in this neighborhood that was there until the 1980s but did not gain much support because the eastern European community that had experienced the horrors of the German Nazi Party during World War II had a bad taste in their mouths about anything that had to do with Nazis.

In the later 1960s, 1970s and even into the 1980s several brawls and vicious racial attacks happened in Marquette Park as this neighborhood became the site of some of the deepest racism in the later years in Chicago.  African American migration to this neighborhood was slow in the 1970s as many families did not move here for fear of violence.  At the same time the African Americans were slowly moving in, Mexican families began taking up residence in this community as well, the neighborhood was becoming a cultural melting pot.

In the year 1977 Mexican families and Palestinian families began moving into Marquette Park.  Alongside the Mexican migration came Ambrose from 18th street in Pilsen.  Ambrose became the first gang to migrate here as they settled at 63rd and Francisco.  Two Sixs would arrive at the same time as Ambrose as both groups settled as far north as 58th Street in Gage Park.  Two Six and Ambrose went to war with each other right away which brought the areas’ first gang violence.

In the early 1980s Two Six and Ambrose began to have conflicts with the Latin Kings of Gage Park (Crown Town Latin Kings) which brought more gang conflicts to the neighborhood.

During the 1980s many white families began to move out of this neighborhood especially west of California street.  White flight was slower in this community because of the Lithuanians willingness to remain but after witnessing increase drug and gang violence these people would start moving in higher volumes in the late 1980s. By this time West Englewood was a rough community full of gang activity which further discouraged east Marquette Park residents from staying here.  After these residents left mostly black families settled in this area. Among newly arrived black families came the Black Gangster Disciples that drifted in from West Englewood.

In response to growing issues with Gage Park gangs like the Crown Town Latin Kings, Insane Guess Boys and conflicts with Ambrose a group of youths started the Krazy Getdown Boys in 1988 which became a local gang located on 71st street.  I believe this was also the time La Raza showed up and colonized 61st and Fairfield as they also had some of Gage Park along Fairfield and all the way down to 62nd street.  La Raza engaged in violence with Crown Town Latin Kings and Ambrose.

By 1990, Marquette Park was still 50% white but the early 1990s would bring about the end of the white community as gang violence escalated.  In 1991 the Gangster Disciples now controlled east Marquette Park as they began fighting vicious wars with the Black P Stones that were trying to settle the area alongside Gage Park settlement.  Also by 1991 there was much hatred and violence toward the Arab community along 63rd Street because of the Gulf War, this is when the T.A.P Boys formed to fight against this hate but they ended up tangling with the Krazy Get Down Boys and Ambrose for the most part.

By the 1990s Marquette Park became one of the more deadly Chicago neighborhoods as it became the site of many shootings and gang violence.  The 1990s was the most violent decade in this neighborhood as gang wars ran rampant.  The east side of Marquette Park began experiencing some deterioration and several vacant properties especially as white flight came in higher volumes especially among the Polish and Irish population, even Lithuanians were finally starting to leave the area.  African Americans eventually made up the largest group in this neighborhood followed by Latinos by the 21st century.  The racial tensions ceased in the 1990s but the gang wars have not.

By the year 1994 Two Six, T.A.P Boys, and La Raza had left the area as Party People moved in where La Raza once stayed.  The areas’ direct gangs were now Ambrose, Gangster Disciples, Krazy Get Down Boys and Party People.  These gangs conflict with each other but mainly fought vicious wars with neighboring gangs like Two Six from West Lawn, Black Disciples from West Englewood, Satan Disciples from Gage Park, Latin Kings from Gage Park, Black P Stones from West Englewood and Conservative Vice Lords from Gage Park.

In 1995, the Latin Souls were invited to 62nd and Sacramento by Ambrose because both gangs were dealing firearms and drugs together.  The Latin  Souls would have major war with Crown Town Latin Kings and the Party People.

Marquette Park still remains as one of the tougher and more violent neighborhoods in Chicago.  Marquette Park is the birthplace of the T.A.P Boys and the Krazy Getdown Boys.

 

All images below are images of vacant buildings at the time of the photo.  All images are courtesy of Google Maps