Washington Heights
Washington Heights

Washington Heights

Origins Settled c. 1835 and annexed in 1891
Area Far Southwest Side

89th Street to 91st Street on the north, 103rd Street to 107th Street on the south, the tracks just east of Robichaux Park and Wendell Smith Park to Halsted Street on the east, Hermitage Avenue to South Beverly Boulevard to South Vincennes Avenue on the west

Gangs founded Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters,
Gangs headquartered Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones,

This area was settled in the 1830s decade by Irish and German farmers and the area remained rural until the 1860s when railroad workers settled here between 1864 and 1865 which added more residents to this rural area.

In the year 1866 Willis M. Hitt and Laurin P. Hilliard bought a large portion of this land from the rural farmers in the area between present day 103rd and 107th Streets and Loomis to Racine with the purpose of subdividing the land for development into a community.

In the year 1869 the Blue Island Land and Building Company bought more of the farmland from 99th Street to 107th Street, in the same year a post office named “Washington Heights” opened in the community.  The area was still dominated by German and Irish residents and continued to grow into the 1870s and by 1874 the area was now known as “Washington Heights.”

In 1883 another subdivision was platted and built up called “Fernwood,” around the same time “Brainerd” was built up between 87th Street to 91st Street.

In the year 1890 much of the neighborhood and Brainerd were annexed into the city of Chicago, then in 1891 the rest of the neighborhood was annexed along with Fernwood creating the Washington Heights neighborhood.

In the 1900s decade a part of the Washington Heights neighborhood was developed as an upper-class neighborhood for the wealthy that became known as “The Heights,” this community was eventually annexed as its own neighborhood that we know today as “Beverly.”

By the 1930s Irish, German and Swedish Chicagoans from Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing began migrating to this neighborhood as those communities were becoming shabbier and Washington Heights was an escape from it.

In the year 1948 restrictive covenants were deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed African Americans to move to all-white communities in Chicago and one of them was Washington Heights; however, this neighborhood did not react violently and redlining, and disinvestment did not occur here allowing African Americans to move in with ease throughout the 1950s.  The value of the neighborhood was retained as a result of this smooth transition and only middle-class African Americans could afford to move in on the east side of the neighborhood which was desirable for the community.

There was also an influx of impoverished African Americans that moved into the community in 1951 in the very southern part of the community along Racine Avenue between 106th and 107th Streets, these residents were brought here by the Chicago Housing Authority as they built the Racine Courts projects, which was a smaller project compared to the others built in other communities.

Black migration was very slow in the 1950s and early 1960s as by the 1960 census the black population only made up 12.5% of the population.

Beginning in the year 1963 white flight began to increase as crooked real estate block busting firms began to entire white families to move out of fear that this neighborhood was going to become more black.  In nearby neighborhoods like Auburn-Gresham and Roseland black migration was in the earliest stages of a major increase but little did white residents of Washington Heights know at the time, that increase was caused by scare tactics from block busters.  Many gullible homeowners fell for this scam and began leaving the community in droves as now more lower income black families found this much safer community to be affordable.

By 1964, real estate blockbusting tactics became a major issue in this community as the real estate agents showed white residents that they needed to sell fast or lose out on value like other neighborhoods because the blacks were moving in, the tactic worked and many white residents fled in high volumes to the point where 75% of the white population fled by 1970 as the neighborhood was now 75% black, the rest would leave in the 1980s.  The community tried to fight back against this greedy maneuver by encouraging white families to remain and to help ease the racial transition and because of these efforts in the 1960s many homes retained most of their value and this neighborhood remained desirable by black middle-classes; however, the white middle class was not sold on the idea of staying and the white flight continued in the 1960s.

In the year 1964, as white flight began to increase, and the community began to lose valuer racial frustrations began and the white police force became neglectful of the growing black community by responding to calls much slower if they came from black residents.  Crime was also increasing in certain parts of the area as criminal elements migrated alongside the black lower income classes much to the dismay of the black community.  This is when Blackstone Rangers and Devil’s Disciples drifted into the area, especially in Brainerd Park area, and began policing the neighborhood to protect the black community against neglectful police, groups of angry whites and higher crime.  The problem was these gangs clashed with one another violently and many misguided groups in the gangs partook in selling drugs and other crimes adding to the growing criminal issues in the neighborhood.

The growing black community fought back against gangs by watching to neighborhood close and by starting outreach groups to deter children from joining gangs; however, the Rangers and Disciples continued to grow as more of an invisible force.  In the 1960s police only identified these groups as outside gangs hanging out in this area, little did they know both gangs established themselves in 1964 and became big in this community.

In the year 1968, the Outlaw Supreme Gangsters were formed as a major Supreme Gangster faction beginning in the Roseland community white having a strong force in the Fernwood and Princeton Park areas of Roseland.  Now Outlaw Supreme Gangsters migrated to Washington Heights that year and flipped all of the Disciples into Gangsters.  In 1969 all the Outlaw Gangsters were known as Black Gangster Disciples.

In the year 1971, many Black Gangster Disciples flipped to become Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters or at the time known as “Lynchmen Black Gangsters.”  This group operated in the Racine Courts for at least a decade.

In the 1970s Washington Heights became one of the higher crime areas of Chicago as black middle classes struggled to fight back against crime and gangs.

In the year 1979 the Conservative Vice Lords and Insane Vice Lords flipped many members of the Black P Stones into their ranks as in the 1980s these Vice Lord groups, and Black Gangster Disciples were the main forces in this area.

In the 1990s many of the Vice Lords flipped to Black P Stones re-establishing the dominance of the Stones.  The Insane Vice Lords absorbed into the Cicero Insane Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords and both groups had strength in the 90s but by the 2000s both groups faded from the area leaving only Conservative Vice Lords that are a permanent group still here.

Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones have always been quite active in this neighborhood; however, they do not have complete control of this community because the many middle classes have neighborhood watches, regardless, this neighborhood is considered one of the harder neighborhoods in Chicago.  The black middle class continues to push back on gangs and crime and through their hard work the community remains strongly middle class and has avoided the top lists of most dangerous Chicago neighborhoods making this community a very livable area for many.

In the 1960s Blackstone Rangers (Black P Stones) and Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples) dominated this neighborhood.

In the 1970s Black P Stones, Black Gangster Disciples and Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters dominated this neighborhood.

In the 1980s Black Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords and Insane Vice Lords dominated this neighborhood.

In the 1990s up to current years Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples dominate this neighborhood.

Washington Heights is the birthplace of the Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters

Here is a list of significant gangs that have walked these streets over time:

Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters Established 1971-1981

107th & Racine (Racine Courts Apartments) Established 1971-1981

Black P Stones Established 1964-present years

89th to 90th, Ashland to Bishop (Duck Town)

89th to 91st, Throop to Ada (D Block Stro City)

91st to 93rd, Ashland to Beverly (Cel City)

93rd to 94th, Green to Union (Rack City)

95th to 103rd, Beverly to Vincennes (Nateville)

91st to 95th, Halsted to Eggleston (Rack City)

Gangster Disciples Established 1964 as Devil’s Disciples, 1968 as Outlaw Supreme Gangsters-present years

91st & Racine (Brainerd Park)

98th & Sangamon (O.A.K)

87th to 93rd, Racine to Vincennes (Georgetown CTG Cutthroats) bordered with Auburb Gresham

89th to 90th, Hermitage to Ashland bordered with Auburb Gresham

93rd to 95th, Ada to Racine (Brookstown LaDave World)

95th to 98th, Genoa to Halsted (Oakdale)

91st & Ashland

104th & Vincennes

Cicero Insane Vice Lords Established 1979-present years

Loomis to Ada, 90th to 92nd

94th & Loomis (Macheteville)

Conservative Vice Lords Established 1979-present years

91st to 93rd, Laflin to Loomis (Macheteville)

Mafia Insane Vice Lords Established 1979-2000s

94th & Loomis