Origins Settled by Henry Austin and Henry Dekoven in 1835 and annexed in 1899
Area West Side

Railroad tracks on the north, Roosevelt Road on the south, Railroad tracks on the east by Kolmar and Kenton Avenues, Austin Boulevard to Harlem Avenue on the west; North Austin: Railroad tracks on the north, North Avenue on the south, Railroad tracks by Kenton on the east, Austin Avenue on the west; Galewood: Railroad tracks on the north, North Avenue on the south, Austin Avenue on the east, Harlem Avenue on the west

Gangs founded Playboys, Ventures, Pulaski Park, Rice Boys,
Gangs headquartered Four Corner Hustlers, Black Souls,

Scattered settlement came to this area in the mid-19th century after Henry DeKoven purchased 280 acres of land here in 1835 and developed the first transportation along Lake Street (formerly known as Pennsylvania Avenue).  As soon as he opened up the land to farming in the later 1830s settlement began of Irish, Bohemian and German settlers along the Lake Street corridor.

In the year 1865 Henry Austin purchased a large tract of 470 acres from Cicero Township to create a community that he would call “Austinville.”  Immediately his creation bloomed as several houses were built and businesses were put in.  Within 25 years his Austinville had a population over 4,000 people.

In the year 1899 Austinville was too big for Cicero Township; therefore, it was voted in to be annexed into the city of Chicago that year.  The area was now renamed “Austin” and already experienced a housing boom thanks to their complex mass transit system.  Businesses soon were opened along Lake Street, Madison Street and Chicago Avenue.  The earliest residents in the 19th century and the early 20th century were middle class to upper class Germans and Scandinavians.

In the 1910s and 1920s Italian and Irish immigrants came to Austin and the Irish actually developed a pretty large influence on the neighborhood.  Austin fared quite well during the turbulent 1930s decade in the Great Depression era as Greek immigrants moved into the neighborhood.  Austin was known to have beautiful and elegant apartments and sturdy homes.  There was also Columbus Park that was full of beauty and recreation.  All was well in the neighborhood for decades to come.

In the late year 1967 Austin began its transition as the area around Cicero Ave and Jackson fell into a little deterioration and the community did not fix this area caused some depreciation in home values, this allowed lower income black families to be able to afford to live here.  Alongside those first black families came the Conservative Vice Lords.  The Cicero Vice Lords would form in 1967 too along Cicero Ave.  One year later more black street gangs like the Apaches formed that attached themselves to the Vice Lord organization.  The Vice Lord groups fought to keep the Disciples out of the area that threatened to move into the area.

In the year 1969, Gaylords began hanging out in this neighborhood and bonded with youths in the area about the opposition to the recent black migration and the presence of the Vice Lords, this is what began a black and white racial opposition on the streets.  The Gaylords then established themselves in central Austin.

In the year 1971, white flight had accelerated to the point where white residents became very concerned about their neighborhood now making significant cultural changes.  This sparked some anger and some discrimination towards newly arrived black residents.  Is also happened to be the very year that Playboys and Ventures began hanging out at the bowling alleys and bars in the area.  It took little to no time for these white gangs to connect with frustrated white youths upset about the neighborhood change and the Gaylords, Playboys and Ventures now settled in the Austin community to fight a battle against outsiders moving in, they especially fought invading groups of Disciples.  The notorious Rice Boys gang formed in 1971 that was created on these streets instead of being a migratory group.  The Rice Boys bonded heavily with the Playboys and Ventures and established the PVR alliance that battled black gangs.

Austin remained a majority white community until about 1975 which is when white flight accelerated.  Most white families wanted to leave Austin but some could afford to leave and many of the youths from these poorest families attached themselves to the PVR and Gaylords.

By the year 1979, most all white families lived in the area of Austin north or North Avenue.  In that year Hispanic people began to settle this area of Austin as white flight began in higher volume in this area.  The Hispanic population brought gangs such as Latin Brothers and Latin Stylers.  The Gaylords began in Sayre Park geared toward fighting these groups; however, members of  the gang did not reside in Austin as they were on the north side of the park in Montclare.  There was also a big battle for the intersection of North Avenue and Lamon between Gaylords and Latin Stylers that both claimed this area.

By the year 1980, almost all white residents had evacuated and Austin was over 96% African American in central and south Austin.  This did not stop activity from the Rice Boys as they were now pretty much the only active white gang left in the early 1980s.  This group now found a new arch enemy the Ghetto Brothers Organization which was a Hispanic based group that recruited heavily among the black population beginning in 1978 when they arrived.

By the 1980s, The once thriving businesses on Chicago Ave, Madison Street and Lake Street became either abandoned crumbling buildings or were torn down and left as vacant lots where crime and drug activity has run rampant.  Once elegant homes and massive towering apartments have become dilapidated and crumbling as they house some of the city’s poorest black residents.  Gangs like the Vice Lords run these streets and push astronomical amounts of Heroin through the neighborhood down Chicago Avenue and Cicero Avenue and outside of the neighborhood that supplies as far as the rich suburbs around the city, this got Austin nicknamed the “Heroin Super Highway.”  Cicero Avenue is pretty much the Heroin superhighway as Conservative Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords and Undertaker Vice Lords became the biggest distributors.

In the year 1987 the white fight ended as Rice Boys closed their territory.  In the same year the Ghetto Brothers Organization also called in quits and the central and southern Austin areas became home to only black street gangs like Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers.

In the 1990s Hispanic based gangs like Latin Kings and a group called the Unknown Assassins attempted to take over The Island area but it would soon fall into the hands of the Vice Lords.

Several Vice Lord factions claim these streets as their own as this community has the heaviest Vice Lord and Four Corner Hustler activity in the entire city of Chicago.

One of the most legendary tales told is about the Chicago Avenue corridor that is known as “The Avenue.” This legendary street was talked about far and wide around the city and in the suburbs.  Teenagers from wealthy suburbs would often hear about The Avenue as a place to find drugs, prostitution and some of the craziest gang banging ever saw.  The Insane Vice Lords controlled The Avenue until the late 1990s when they became incarcerated from all their craziness.  Mafia Insane Vice Lords and other groups took control of The Avenue.

The Hispanic gangs continued dominance north of North Avenue until the year 2002 then the area was turned over to black families and the Vice Lords.

Heroin users all over Chicagoland usually go to Austin first before anywhere else because it is so plentiful and Chicago police have mostly neglected the area. The gangs fight hard to control Austin because of its plentiful mass public transit system that makes it easier for customer to come in and buy drugs. Austin has fallen into being one of Chicago’s tougher neighborhoods with some slums, and there has been no renewal or improvement south of North Avenue.  The west side of Austin and the south Side of Austin tend to have very few run down and abandoned buildings, most of the dilapidated areas and high crime in the central and eastern part of the neighborhood.  Austin has also held the highest murder rates for several years of all Chicago neighborhoods.  The neighborhood is still held hostage by drugs, gangs and violence and is considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago.

Austin is the birthplace of the Rice Boys.

The gangs that have walked these streets of Austin are:

Conservative Vice Lords Established 1967-present years

Cortland to Wabansia, Central to Long (C4 Mob)

Jackson to Harrison, Lockwood to Leamington

(Former Outlaw Lunatic Traveling Vice Lords) Gladys & Central

Jackson & Lockwood

Central Ave from Monroe to Gladys (VL City, shared with Traveling Vice Lords)

North Ave & Lorel

Chicago Ave & Laramie

North Ave

Austin & Madison

Mafia Vice Lords Established 1973-present years

Chicago & Monticello

Kilpatrick & West End

Cortland to North Ave, Austin to Mayfield (Deathrow)

North Ave & Lockwood (Deathrow)

North Ave from Cortland to Mayfield (Deathrow)

(former Insane Vice Lord territory) Rice to Superior, Austin to Mayfield (The Ave)

(former Insane Vice Lord and Cicero Insane Vice Lord territory) Chicago Ave & Cicero Ave (The Ave)

(former Insane Vice Lord territory) Chicago Ave Lavergne to Lamon (The Ave)

Maypole & La Crosse

Washington to Jackson, Lavergne to Cicero (LA)

Mafia Insane Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords-North Ave & Lorel

Adams & Lavergne

(Former Cicero Insane Vice Lord territory) Fulton & La Crosse

(Former Cicero Insane Vice Lord territory) Iowa & Cicero

(Former Cicero Insane Vice Lord territory) Lake & Cicero

Madison & Cicero

Madison & Lamon

Madison & Lotus

Madison & Menard

Madison & Waller

Monroe & Lavergne

Mafia Insane Vice Lords and Undertaker Vice Lords-Ohio & Cicero

(Former Cicero Insane Vice Lord territory) Potomac & Cicero

Superior & Cicero

Washington & Cicero

West End & La Crosse

Madison to Maypole, Lavergne to Kilbourn

West End & La Porte

Traveling Vice Lords Established early 1970s-present years

Wabansia & Long

Lemoyne & Cicero

Monroe & Central

Traveling Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords-Quincy & Central

Wabansia & Cicero

Wabansia & Long

Augusta & Kilpatrick

Unknown Vice Lords Established early 1970s-present years

Lemoyne to Hirsch, Laramie to Leclaire

Ohio to Kinzie, Central to Long

Maypole to West End, Cicero to Kenton

Unknown Vice Lords and Imperial Insane Vice Lords-Erie & Cicero

Huron & Lavergne

Iowa & Latrobe

Maypole & Kilpatrick

Ohio & Lavergne

Undertaker Vice Lords Established 1970-present years

Jackson to Harrison, Cicero to Kilpatrick (Grave Yard) Established 1970

(Former Cicero Insane Vice Lord turf) Ohio & Cicero

Race & Laramie

Adams & Kilpatrick

Harrison to Van Buren, Laramie to Kilpatrick

Van Buren & Cicero

Gladys & Cicero

Flournoy & Cicero

Cicero & Congress

Cicero Insane Vice Lords Established 1967-2010s

Fulton & Lavergne

Cicero & Jackson Established 1967

Potomac & Cicero

Lake & Cicero

(Former Insane Vice Lord territory) Iowa & Cicero

Ohio & Cicero

Superior & Cicero

West End & La Crosse

Imperial Insane Vice Lords 

Imperial Insane Vice Lords and Undertaker Vice Lords-Erie & Cicero

Potomac & Lavergne

Chicago Ave & Austin (The Ave)

Insane Vice Lords Established 1968-2000s

Chicago & Central Ave

Laverge & Gladys Established 1968

Iowa & Cicero

Fulton & La Crosse

Lake & Cicero

Ohio & Cicero

Rice to Superior, Austin to Mayfield (The Ave)

Chicago Ave & Cicero Ave (The Ave)

Chicago Ave Lavergne to Lamon (The Ave)

Outlaw Lunatic Traveling Vice Lords Established 1998-2000s

Quincy & Central (VL City)

Congress & Central

Van Buren & Central

Jackson & Central

Adams & Central

Monroe from Leamington to Lavergne

Central Insane Vice Lords Established 1968-1970s

Central & Jackson Established 1968-1970s

Four Corner Hustlers Established early 1970s-present years

Adams & Central (Angelo 4CH)

North Ave to Division, Austin to Mason

Bloomingdale to Wabansia, Lorel to Latrobe (Hollygrove)

Hirsch to Potomac, Lavergne to Lamon

Thomas to Augusta, Lawler to Lavergne (LT)

Augusta to Iowa, Menard to Waller

Huron to Ohio, Menard to Waller (Body Snatcher 4CH)

Chicago to Huron, Parkside to Pine

Lake to West End, Austin to Mayfield

Washington to Madison, Lorel to Lotus

Madison to Adams, Austin to Mayfield

Madison to Jackson, Central to Lotus (Angelo 4CH)

Van Buren to Harrison, Central to Lotus (Trigga Town Angelo 4CH)

Washington to Quincy, Laramie to Leamington (Solid Gang)

Madison from Central to Pine (Angelo 4CH)

Wabansia & Central

Laramie & Thomas (LT)

Thomas & Lockwood (LT)

Adams & Lotus

Augusta & Austin

Bloomingdale & Lockwood

Austin & Division

Division & Cicero

Division & Lavergne

Division & Long

Division & Mayfield

Division & Parkside

Division & Pine

Filmore & Mason (The Island)

Laramie from Fulton to Maypole

Iowa & Central

Lake & Austin

Madison & Austin

Monroe & Mayfield

North Ave & Pine (Shared with Conservative Vice Lords)

Potomac & Lavergne (Shared with Imperial Insane Vice Lords)

Superior & Menard (Body Snatcher 4CH)

West End & Central

Division & Le Claire

Chicago & Lorel

Lotus & Congress

Taylor Jousters 70s

North Ave & Taylor

Latin Brothers Established 1979-2000s

Bloomingdale & Laramie

North Ave & Lockwood

North Ave & Latrobe Established 1979

Latin Stylers Established 1979-1990s

Keating & Wabansia

North Ave & Lamon

Playboys Ventures and Rice Boys (PVR) Established 1971-1987

Division & Waller Established 1971 as Playboys (headquarters PVR)

Menard & Thomas Established as Rice Boys (PVR)

Central Ave & Division (Austin Bowl headquarters, PVP)

Crystal to Rice, Long to Pine Established as Rice Boys and/or Ventures 1971 (PVR)

Chicago Ave & Central Ave (PVR)

New Breeds Established 1992-present years

Harrison to 5th Ave, Cicero to Keeler

Jackson & Lotus

Gaylords Established 1969-early 1980s

Leamington & Jackson Established 1969

Ohio & Leclaire Established 1969

North Ave & Lamon Established 1979

Nagle & North Ave Established 1979

Latin Pachucos Established 1989-1991

Latrobe & Dickens

North Ave & Lamon 1989-1991

Black Souls

Thomas to Augusta, Leamington to Leclaire (LT Souls, Mad Black Souls shared with Four Corner Hustlers)

Huron to Ohio, Leclaire to Lavergne

Hubbard to Kinzie, Lavergne to Cicero (The Hub)

Lake to Maypole, Lavergne to Cicero (Gangster Black Souls)

Fulton & Cicero (Gangster Black Souls)

Washington & Cicero

Latin Kings

Roosevelt & Menard (The Island)

Ghetto Brothers Organization Established 1978-1987

Lawler & Thomas Established 1978-1987

Black P Stones

Chicago to Huron, Lockwood to Latrobe (West Side Titanic Stones)

Augusta to Chicago, Long to Lorel

Chicago to Huron, Sawyer to Albany

Ferdinand & Laramie

Chicago & Pine

Stoned Freaks

Lamon & Wabansia (De George Park)




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