|Origins||Settled by David Perriam in 1835 and annexed in 1889|
|Area||Far Southeast Side|
115th Street on the north, 138th Street on the south, Bishop Ford Expressway or Doty Avenue on the east, railroad tracks and South Indiana Avenue on the west
|Gangs headquartered||Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Black P Stones, Vice Lords,|
This area was first settled by David Perriam in the year 1835 as he set up a small community to operate a toll bridge at the Little Calumet River. Perriam called his little community “Wildwood” which was north of the river. After Perriman arrived German farmers became the largest ethnic population. (Fact source, http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1077.html)
In the year 1840 George Dolton and Levi Osterhoudt moved just south of the river and created the community of “Riverdale Crossing” as Osterhoudt opened a tavern at 133rd and Thornton, from here residents began referring to the area as “Riverdale.” (Fact source, http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1077.html)
In 1849 John Ton purchased land here and used his farm to hide runaway slaves within the Underground Railroad.
In the year 1852 the northern part of this area became a part of the town of Kensington near 115th Street. This area was annexed into Hyde Park Township in the year 1861.
By the 1870s James H. Bowen purchased a tract of land and built himself a marvelous summer home to escape the city and during the 1870s and 1880s decades many upper classes came to this summer home for parties and events Bowen held.
In the year 1877 the Riverdale Distilling Company opened its doors which became the first industry in the Riverdale community.
In the year 1880 George M. Pullman opened his Pullman Car Factory in the nearby Pullman neighborhood which brought more employment to the area. This area thrived more when the Pullman sewer farm, that took the sewage waste from the car factory and used it to process farm fertilizer opened for business. In 1888 F. A. Reich Company lumber yard opened its doors bringing in many more jobs to Riverdale.
The 1880s also saw more industries appear such as: Swift and Knickerbocker icehouse, cattle fattening pens, planning mills and a cooperage. C. B. Flinn and Company also opened a lumber yard during this decade and the lumber yards, and the distillery were the main sources of employment at the end of the century. Another larger source of employment was the Calumet Paint Company that opened in 1888 inside of an abandoned church.
In the year 1889 this area was annexed into the city of Chicago making this area a Chicago hot spot for employment.
In the year 1891 Frederick Schmidt built a shopping district in the community near 137th Street and Indiana Avenue.
In the year 1892 the “Riverdale” name was official.
In the 1900s decade more industry came to Riverdale as Sherwin Williams purchased the paint factory from Calumet Paint Company and the facility greatly expanded employing several people. In 1905 Chicago Drop Forge opened to employing hundreds, then in 1918 Acme Steel brought tons of jobs to the area.
The area continued to thrive all through the Great Depression years of the 1930s. In the year 1943 a plan was announced by the Chicago Housing Authority to build a very large public housing project in the community between 130th and 134th Streets and from Doty Avenue to Langley Avenue that was to be assigned as an all-African American project complex. Riverdale and the neighboring communities of Pullman, West Pullman and Roseland protested the building of the projects that would be known as the Altgeld Gardens; however, construction still began in 1944 and was completed in 1945, after the war these projects were used to house African American veterans returning from the war until they could gain stability but the white community wanted nothing to do with that. In 1954 the Phillip Murray projects were added on to this area and the population of Riverdale exploded; now this was a majority black community but not because of white flight, it was because the area was barren for the most part until CHA came in and built the projects. The population grew from around 1,500 (all white) residents in 1930 to over 10,000 residents 90% of them black by the 1950s.
Before the Altgeld Gardens were built Riverdale was a highly rural community with several factories. The European white population resided along old roads in mostly random houses and farms as there were no subdivisions platted.
It was not until the year 1966 that the area became platted with subdivisions like Golden Gate and Eden Green. There was also the Concordia Apartments and townhomes built in the neighborhood. All these houses and buildings were black owned. These were some of the first black owned subdivisions, apartments, and townhouses in the country. Golden Gate was first that began construction in 1966, Eden Green began in 1968.
In the year 1968 the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church raised enough funding to develop the first black owned, operated and rented community in the city and one of the first in the entire country known as Eden Green which was just west of the Altgeld projects.
In 1969 Riverdale, Pullman and West Pullman began having conflicts over the use of public transportation and schools as West Pullman was a white community that did not want to integrate with blacks, this led to racial conflict and violence between the two neighborhoods and the black community was being left with no easy access to emergency care.
Altgeld Gardens was a safe community in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The projects had a long history of syndicate type behavior like illegal gambling, but gangs and criminal groups surely did not dominate and overrun these buildings. When residents began to struggle with discrimination over schools and public transit by 1969 it opened a gateway for the Black P Stones and Black Gangster Disciples to make their way into these buildings. In these early years Stones and Disciples were very revolutionary and tended to arrive in areas of the city and suburbs where black people were facing the harshest discrimination and that’s how it began with gangs in Altgeld.
Beginning in the year 1970, gang violence became vicious as it was even reported sniper gang members were using rooftops to shoot at each other. (Fact source, https://www.nytimes.com/1970/08/09/archives/in-the-ghettos-of-chicago-policemen-are-targets-murdered-policeman.html). Residents now built a memorial in early 1970s to commemorate residents killed by violence in this complex and for those that died from the pollution in the area.
The pollution was well-known and in 1974 residents were especially upset and a state of protest when toxic smog filled the air coming for the closed factories nearby. The closing of these factories brought socio-economic problems to the community as poverty worsened.
In the late 1970s factories began closing down more rapidly and others began mass layoffs in the area which economically devastated Riverdale, and by the year 1980 Sherwin Williams closed down their factory and a year later Pullman Car Factory closed its doors which resulted in thousands of layoffs in Riverdale as the neighborhood sunk into an economic depression, then to add insult to injury the closed down Sherwin Williams plant was left with pollution run off from the paint chemicals that poisoned Riverdale which led to a law suit in 1993.
Toxic pollution along with extreme poverty made the area a community of disinvestment and despair in the 1970s. The projects became increasingly full of gang violence in 1979 when Four Corner Hustlers, Conservative Vice Lords and Traveling Vice Lords made their way into these buildings after they started a south side expansion campaign that year. These Vice Lords groups fought violent wars with the Black Gangster Disciples and by the 1980s gang violence became a major issue in these buildings. Gang violence was now in the surrounding areas outside of the projects in the Eden Green, Golden Gate and Concordia Apartments. Riverdale had risen to become considered one of the more violent and dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago for several years as gang wars have been legendary. Riverdale is also a part of the “Wild 100s” which is an area that encompasses three other neighboring communities that are all known for excessive gang violence and a large drug trade.
Much of the Altgeld Gardens had fallen into disrepair and neglect beginning in the 1970s and into the 2000s.
The Concordia Apartments were purchased by a New York private firm many years ago that has been known to neglect the buildings not sending maintenance workers there. Many times, when they arrive, they make crude comments upsetting residents. This issue has gained media attention and the attention of Reverend Jesse Jackson. This is an example of how Riverdale and many far south side mostly black neighborhoods have been neglected and disinvested. Many Riverdale middle class black families continue to uphold well-kept households but still struggle in this disinvested community.
The Altgeld projects have been renovated in recent years. Riverdale still struggles with high unemployment, poverty, gang violence and deterioration and are one of the hardest neighborhoods in the city and considered one of the most dangerous communities.
In the 1970s Riverdale was dominated by Black Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones.
In the 1980s and 1990s Riverdale was dominated by Black Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Conservative Vice Lords and Traveling Vice Lords.
In the 2000s-decade Riverdale was dominated by Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords and Black Disciples.
In the 2010s decade and later Riverdale is dominated by Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Conservative Vice Lords and Black Disciples have grown exceptionally large in the projects and the Concordia Apartments.
This is the list of significant gangs that have walked these streets over time:
Black P Stones Established 1969-present years
134th Street from St. Lawrence to Corliss (Titanic Stones)
131st & Evans (Altgeld Gardens projects, Jet Blacks)
Four Corner Hustlers Established 1979-present years
Altgeld Gardens projects Established 1979-present years
Black Disciples Established 1969-present years
132nd & Doty, Greenwood from 132nd to 133rd (AMG)
133rd & Corliss (Altgeld Gardens projects, Block 7)
134th & Vernon
132nd to 134th, Martin Luther King Drive to Indiana (Gooly Gang)
130th to 131st, Martin Luther King Drive to Indiana (Concordia BDs, Concordia Apartments)
Gangster Disciples Established 1969-present years
130th to 134th, Vernon to St. Lawrence (Altgeld Gardens projects)
Conservative Vice Lords Established 1979-present years
130th to 133rd, Langley to Corliss (Altgeld Gardens projects)
Traveling Vice Lords Established 1979-present years
130th to 133rd, Langley to Corliss (Altgeld Gardens projects)
Madd Renegade Vice Lords 2000s
Altgeld Gardens projects (no longer active) 2000s