Garfield Ridge
Garfield Ridge

Garfield Ridge

Origins Settled by William B. Archer in 1835 and annexed c. 1915
Area Southwest Side

The intersection of Pershing Road and Cicero Avenue at the northern most point running down along the railroad tracks by Interstate 55 on the north, 59th Street and halfway through Midway Airport on the south, railroad on the east, Harlem Avenue on the west

This area was first discovered in the year 1835 when William B. Archer (Archer Avenue named after him) bought acres of land in this area.  After the area was mapped, Irish and German Illinois & Michigan Canal workers settled in the area along with some bands of Native Americans but no one ever stayed long because of the swampy prairie lands that did not make ideal farmland, the on and off settlement would continue all through the 1840s.

In the year 1853 John “Long John” Wentworth (Wentworth Avenue is named after him) bought acres of land here but the area still remained barren; however, the city of Chicago annexed part of his land in 1889.

After annexation in the 1890s Dutch farmers began settlement in this area mainly in the area that is known as “Sleepy Hallow” and eventually a community was present by 1907.  In the 1900s-decade Polish immigrants came to this area and expansion even happened outside Sleepy Hallow, especially since there were new industrial jobs like Argo Corn Products that opened in 1907 at 63rd and Archer Avenue in the neighboring Clearing neighborhood.  In 1912 a new subdivision started called “Bartlett Highlands” near Narragansett to Meade between 51st Street and 55th Street.

In the year 1915 the rest of this area was annexed into the city of Chicago which created the “Garfield Ridge” neighborhood.

In the year 1923 an airport was built in the southern part of the neighborhood that transported U.S. mail only, then by 1926 the city of Chicago bought the airport and turned it into the Chicago Municipal Airport which provided many more jobs for the mostly Polish community.  In the year 1931, the airport now had passenger lines which prompted a greater need for employment.

The Great Depression years in the 1930s were not real harsh on this community because the airport and other industries supported this small community of fewer than 7,000 people, the only side effect of the depression was a lack of heavy growth in the neighborhood.

In the 1940s decade the area boomed mainly because of the airport industry as workers and frequent travelers took up residence.  In July of 1949 the airport was renamed “Midway Airport” after the battle of Midway in 1942 during World War II.  Midway Airport was the only passenger airport in Chicago and became the busiest airport in the country.

In that same year of 1949 the Chicago Housing Authority began the construction of the Leclaire Courts public housing projects in response to the severe housing crisis African Americans were facing around the city.  There was immediate massive protest by the Garfield Ridge all-white community that objected to these projects that were planned to run from 43rd Street to 45th Street north to south then Cicero Avenue to Lavergne Avenue going east to west.  By 1950 the projects were completed, and the first African Americans took up residence in this community as they exclusively lived in the housing projects.

In the 1960s, multiple white greaser gangs haunted the Vittum Park area like the Mad Lads, Centurions, L.A. Boys and the 58th Street Jungle.  These gangs fought each other hard for control over the Vittum Park area but they would all go extinct by the early 70s as they never began a new generation of gang members.  In the year 1971 the notorious Spanish Cobras arrived; however, they would only last 3 years and at the time they were not yet known as the Insane Spanish Cobras we know today.

By the year 1973, the Insane Popes began as the true dominating white gang for many years to come.  The Popes mostly came from neighboring Archer Heights but very quickly had turf in Garfield Ridge.  The Popes began out of boredom as this area was not under threat of being invaded by impoverished black or Hispanic groups.  The projects were mostly peaceful and didn’t really have any gangs in them during this time.

In about 1976 or 1977, the Satan Disciples arrived in the Sleepy Hallow area of the neighborhood which was also the portion of the community that had Hispanic families.  When Hispanics first arrived in this area the youth were often bullied by the Insane Popes gang and this is when these youths attached to the Satan Disciples for protection. The Satan Disciples were the protectors of the Hispanic community in Garfield Ridge all through the late 70s and 1980s until the neighborhood had a larger Hispanic population but the wars with the Insane Popes would remain until the Popes mostly withdrew from the community.

In the year 1979, black gangs from other Chicago neighborhoods moved into the Leclaire Courts projects.  The Four Corner Hustlers, Black P Stones and Vice Lords became major players in the projects.  All three of these groups were allies under the People alliance; therefore, conflict really didn’t happen causing these projects to remain peaceful.  These groups also did not fight with the Popes.

In the mid-1980s Leclaire Courts got a little rough as high crime and drug trafficking increased until the citizens in these projects stood up to it in 1986 just as the Crack Cocaine epidemic was taking flight.  Protests of the projects continued over the years as residents complained those buildings were depreciating the neighborhood and drawing in gang violence; however, most of the gang violence was in the rest of the neighborhood by the mid-1980s.

In the year 1990, Garfield Ridge experienced a wave of Hispanic migration that was sometimes opposed by the community.  The Popes were the dominating gang in the neighborhood that often conflicted with these newly arriving Mexican youths.  The Satan Disciples then moved into the area in Sleepy Hallow area as a group to protect Hispanic youths falling victim to Popes.  Insane Popes also felt the Satan Disciples were an undesirable group that didn’t belong in their community, this sparked a gang war.  Latin Kings would move into this area while going to war with these Satan Disciples.

The Almighty Popes started on these streets in the Vittum Park area in the year 1994 which was rebel group splintered off the Insane Popes.  The Insane Popes engaged in a gun free war with Almighty Popes while APs also joined in the fight against Satan Disciples.  Because of all this torment the Hallow SDs took it made for one tough group of SDs in this area.

The 1990s probably saw the worst of the gang rivalries.  Some events in later history curbed most of the gang violence; first, there was the shooting death of two 13 year girls in the nearby Clearing neighborhood caused by the “Almighty Popes” street gang; however, Chicago police blamed all gangs with the name of “Pope” and that also led to targeting other gangs in the area which decreased the gang activity permanently of white and Latino gangs.  Second, in the year 2009 the city evacuated the projects and began demolition which was complete by 2011.  The residents had finally gotten what they wished, and the projects were now gone which eliminated the gang activity in the area.  Presently Garfield Ridge is not heavy on gang activity or crime and is one of the safer communities in Chicago.

Almighty Popes went extinct in 1998.  Insane Pope influence has waned greatly in the past two decades.

In the 1970s and 1980s Insane Popes ruled these streets while CVLs, MIVLs, Four Corner Hustlers and Black P Stones ruled the projects in the 1980s.

In the 1990s Almighty Popes, Insane Popes, Latin Kings and Satan Disciples ruled these streets while the same groups still ran the projects.

By the 2000s and later these streets were dominated by Satan Disciples and Latin Kings.  The projects still had the same mobs until the projects were torn down in 2011.

Garfield Ridge often scores as one of the safer neighborhoods of Chicago and much of the gang violence is of the past.

The significant gangs that have walked these streets over time are:

Almighty Popes Established 1994-1998

50th & Kilpatrick

50th & LeClaire (Vittum Park)


54th & Latrobe

Latin Kings 1990-present years

49th & Lotus (Midway Latin Kings) 90s, 2000s-present years

51st & Lotus 1990-present

47th & Lockwood 2000s-present

47th to 49th, LaPorte to Cicero Ave 2010s-present years

49th & Lawler 2000s-present years

Four Corner Hustlers Established 1979-2011

47th & Lamon

43rd & Cicero (Leclaire Courts projects shared with Conservative Vice Lords) Established 1979-2011

City Knights

48th & Keating

Satan Disciples Established 1977-present years

43rd to 48th, Cicero to Knox (Hollow SDs) Established 1977-present years

51st & Kilpatrick 2020s (present years)

Spanish Cobras Established 1971-1974

46th & Lawler Established 1971-1974

Insane Popes (south side group) Established 1973-2010s

56th to 58th, Newcastle to Normandy

51st & Kilpatrick (51st St IPs) 90s, 2000s, 2010s

50th & Kilpatrick (turned Almighty Popes 1994)

48th & Lamon 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s

49th to 50th, Leclaire to Laporte (Vittum Park) 70s, 80s, 90s

49th & Lotus 90s

51st & Lorel 80s

47th & Lockwood 80s

Conservative Vice Lords Established 1979-2011

49th & Lockwood 90s

52nd & Lockwood

43rd to 47th, Cicero to Lavergne (Leclaire Courts projects shared with Four Corner Hustlers, 43rd and Cicero was 4CH and CVL, 45th and Leclaire was MIVL and CVL, South End Conservatives) Established 1979-2011

Mafia Insane Vice Lords

43rd to 47th, Cicero to Lavergne (Leclaire Courts projects shared with Four Corner Hustlers, 43rd and Cicero was 4CH and CVL, 45th and Leclaire was MIVL and CVL, South End Conservatives) Established 1979-2011

Black P Stones Established 1979-2011

43rd to 47th, Cicero to Lavergne (Leclaire Courts projects shared with Four Corner Hustlers, 43rd and Cicero was 4CH and CVL, 45th and Leclaire was MIVL and CVL, South End Conservatives) Established 1979-2011

Gangster Disciples 2010s-present years

45th & Lawler 2010s present