|Origins||Settled c. 1885 and annexed in 1889|
Belmont Avenue on the north, Bloomingdale Avenue (or railroad tracks) on the south, Pulaski Road on the east, Kenton Avenue on the west
|Gangs founded||Stoned Freaks, Imperial Gangsters,|
|Gangs headquartered||Latin Eagles, Spanish Cobras, Imperial Gangsters,|
The area of Hermosa was a vastly barren and unsettled wooded area during the larger part of the 19th century unlike its neighboring communities around.
The first part of civilization was a railroad stop that was placed in 1875; however, it did not stop there very often. It was not until the early 1880s that Scottish, German and Swedish immigrants began taking up residence in the area. Soon multiple manufacturing plants were built in the area and the train stop came here regularly. The area was called “Kelvyn Grove” by the immigrants.
In the year 1889 the area was fit to be annexed into the city of Chicago and was given the new name “Hermosa.” After the annexation the first official subdivision was built called “Garfield” which catered to the many workers near the various factories.
By the 1910s decade Polish, Irish and Italian immigrants arrived in the neighborhood as more housing was put up. The neighborhood stopped growing in the 1930s due to the Great Depression era; however, the area did not fall into despair.
In the mid-1960s, about 1965, Puerto Rican migration came to Hermosa much to the objection of many white residents. There began a struggle at the local Kelvyn Park High School with gangs that were developing into the West Town, Logan Square and northwest side areas. All these outside gangs would attend Kelvyn Park High School which resulted in fist fights over gang ties and racial issues on the streets around the school after school let out. Many of the Puerto Rican youths experienced bullying which led to the creation of the Imperial Gangsters which became the first significant gang to walk these streets beginning in 1965. Gaylords hung around this area that gave the Imperial Gangsters a lot of trouble then Latin Kings from nearby West Humboldt Park also gave trouble to Imperial Gangsters.
In the later 1960s, Hermosa had many hippie groups that primarily hung out in Kelvyn Park. These hippies were calling themselves “Freaks.” From my understanding the hippie groups tangled with the Imperial Gangsters while they hung out with Latin Kings.
In the year 1969, the Gaylords launched a major expansion campaign that included settlement of the Hermosa streets. As soon as the Gaylords became very large in this community Hispanic migration slowed and Imperial Gangsters left the area in 1969. I am not too sure if the Gaylords had anything to do with either of these events, but Gaylords were known for chasing out Hispanic migrants to neighborhoods. At this point it was just Gaylords and Hippie freaks walking these streets. Gaylord aimed to keep it that way.
In the year 1971, the hippie freak groups that were a rougher group converted their hang out group to become the Young Blood Freak street gang that was more or less allied with the Gaylords. These groups patrolled these streets day and night in the 70s flushing out undesirables, they were especially on high alert when Kelvyn Park high let out.
In the year 1975, the Imperial Gangsters returned to these streets aiding the often-victimized Hispanic population. This started a war between Imperial Gangsters and Gaylords and IGs and Freaks. Chi-West would arrive in 1975 that was another white gang that didn’t like Hispanic gangs, now the IGs had to fight them too. At some point in the 1970s Playboys arrived which was yet another white gang not friendly to Hispanic gangs like Imperial Gangsters. The Taylor Jousters came here for a short time in the 1970s too that also hated Imperial Gangsters. At this time, I do not know what wars there were between the white gangs, but I do know they all targeted IGs. The IGs had no allies on these streets during these turbulent later 70s years but IGs fought so hard they made the Chicago Tribune in 1978.
By the year 1980 Hemosa was now 31% Hispanic due to white flight. Even though this seems like Hispanic migration was large by 1980, it was quite small given that it took 15 years to get to this 31%. Many residents and white gangs worked to keep the Hispanic population lower because many felt their neighborhood would depreciate and become more susceptible to crime and deterioration because the perception was that Puerto Rican people are poor and bring crime.
The Imperial Gangsters withdrew from the area in 1980 as Freaks and Gaylords grew stronger in the area during the early 1980s years. It was during this time when other gangs that went by the name “Freaks” began hanging out in the area like Insane Freaks and Stoned Freaks. Taylor Jousters, Chi-West and Playboys had left the area. Hispanic migration grew during these years, but no more Hispanic gangs arrived on these streets during these years.
In the year 1982, because of the high population of Gaylords and Freak groups in the area a war kicked off as they could no longer co-exist. The Freak groups went against the Gaylords resulted in a nasty war handled with fists. Both sides took a lot of damage during this war and it was halted immediately in 1984.
In the year 1984, Hispanic migration took another larger turn and this time a permanent Hispanic gang would at last settle these streets. The Spanish Cobras arrived in 1984 and word spread quickly to Freaks and Gaylords that another foe had made it to these streets. Freaks and Gaylords ganged up on the Cobras as they established the Gaylord Freak alliance as the Freaks were now “Stoned Freaks.” This began a bloody war as Spanish Cobras became very popular with so many Hispanic youths that felt they were bullied by Freaks and Gaylords for a long time.
In the year 1985, Mexican migration came to Hermosa as poorer Hispanic families found the areas’ properties cheap to purchase or rent due to the decline of manufacturing in the area and job loss. White flight had accelerated in 1985 as middle-class residents did not like the newer and more violent gang activity that now brought the use of guns and murder.
Alongside increased Puerto Rican migration came the Maniac Latin Disciples and Latin Eagles in 1985. 1985 also saw the return of the Imperial Gangsters making a third comeback. Among the Mexican migrants came La Raza. Now the streets of Hermosa had a strong gang population and the Cobra, Disciples, Eagles, IGs and La Raza are all Folks while the Gaylords were People and Freaks were under no alliance. The streets were now moving in favor of Hispanic gangs and Folks but the Freaks and Gaylord began a new legacy of intense gang banging against these Folks.
In the year 1986, relief came for the Freaks and Gaylords as another People alliance gang the Insane Deuces arrived to provide aid. The Deuces were small but a very tough group.
In the year 1987, the Freaks became part of the People alliance, but this did little to help this organization and their allies. The Imperial Gangsters withdrew from the area in 1987 but that still did little to deter the Folk gangs as a problem for Deuces and the GFN.
Gang violence and drug problems soon plagued this community as residents fought back by creating community watch programs like the “Kelvyn-Ken-Wel Community Organization” that fought against the rise in subsidized housing and drug dealing in the community. Residents began nightly street patrols watching out for gang and drug activity, ironically, the Gaylords were a part of this neighborhood watch program and patrolled the streets at night as well because they did not partake in the drug trade.
Hermosa became 68% Hispanic by 1990 then 84% by the year 2000.
In the 1990s and 2000s Hermosa may have experienced their most intense gang activity. Freaks and Gaylords were fighting their last wars against the Folks in the early 90s which resulted in lots of shootings and death.
Neighborhood community watch programs also fought a losing battle in the 1980s as gang and drug problems got worse by the 1990s and more gangs rooted themselves into the community.
In later decades Hermosa has become less of a violent community but still has a high crime rate and lots of gang activity.
In the 1960s Imperial Gangsters was the dominating and perhaps only gang that had significance in this area.
In the 1970s Gaylords and Young Blood Freaks ruled these streets as the larger groups.
In the 1980s Gaylords, Stoned Freaks, Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Cobras were the dominating groups.
In the 1990s and all the decades following Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Cobras became the dominating groups. Spanish Four Corner Hustlers also became a larger group with lots of influence. Latin Eagles would also move their base of operation here in the 1990s becoming also a larger group.
Imperial Gangsters Established 1965, re-established 1975-1980s, re-established 1985-1987
Cortland & Springfield
Fullerton & Kildare Established 1985-1987
Kelvyn Park Established 1965-1969
Kostner & Cortland Established 1975-1980
Gaylords Established 1969-1990
George & Kolmar Established 1969-1990
Montana & Kilbourn Established 1986-1990
Armitage & Tripp Established 1969-1990
Fullerton & Kildare Established 1969-1990
Fullerton & Kilbourn
Fullerton & Tripp 70s
Belden & Kenneth Established 1969-1985
Belden & Knox 1984-1990
Diversey & Kilbourn Established 1986-1990
Wrightwood & Kilbourn Established 1969-1990
Latin Eagles Established 1985-present years
Belden to Armitage, Kildare to Kenneth (K-Town, DK Street) Established 1985-present years
Wellington & Kilpatrick
Chi-West Established 1975-1978
Cortland & Harding Established 1975-1978
Four Corner Hustlers 1991-present years
George to Drummond, Kenton to Kostner (Spanish 4CH) 1991-present years
Insane Deuces Established 1986-1992
Diversey & Kilbourn Established 1989-1992
Spanish Cobras Established 1984-present years
Wrightwood to Fullerton, Kenton to Tripp (Killing Fields, Fullerton & Tripp No Love City) Established 1984-present years
Armitage to Bloomingdale, Lowell to Keeler
Kilbourn & Wrightwood (Kelvyn Park)
Diversey & Kilbourn
Dickens & Tripp Established 1984-present years
YLO Cobras 90s, 2000s
Belden to Dickens, Tripp to Keeler (Terror Dome) 90s, 2000s
Armitage & Tripp 90s, 2000s
La Raza Established 1985-2000s
Cortland & Kedvale 1985-2000s
Cortland & Tripp 80s
Maniac Latin Disciples Established 1985-present years
Fullerton to Palmer, Kilbourn to Kostner (Omskiville, Hermosa Park)
Fullerton to Belden, Karlov to Pulaski (8 Ball City)
Armitage to Bloomingdale, Karlov to Pulaski (Killa City)
Cortland & Keystone (Killa City)
Keystone & Dickens
Belden & Lowell
Playboys Ventures Pulaski Park 70s
Cortland & Springfield Established as Playboys (PVP) 70s
Stoned Freak Established 1967-1994
Armitage to Diversey, Kilbourn to Kedvale (Kelvyn Park, Ken-Well Park, DK, No Mercy on Diversey) Established 1967-1994
Taylor Jousters 70s
Keeler & Drummond 70s
Wrightwood & Kildare 70s