Origins Annexed in 1889
Area Far Southeast Side

87th Street on the north, 95th Street on the south, New York Central Railroad on the east, Illinois Central Railroad on the west

This area was not really settled in the early days as this swampy land was not fit for residential use even though three railroad track lines were put in to form a triangle.

The area was annexed into the Hyde Park Township area in 1861, then in 1862 the area was named “Burnside” after General Ambrose Burnside, and then in 1889 it was annexed into the city of Chicago despite the fact this was still barren swampy land.

In the year 1895 W. V. Jacobs had a grand vision of building a storage battery road for Chicago as he was heavily responsible for promoting the Calumet Railway.  At this time between 1895 and 1896 the Illinois Central Railroad built a repair shop and a roundhouse in this area which attracted employment, then Jacobs purchased all the land within this triangle and subdivided the land into a livable community of railroad workers, soon Hungarian, Italian, Ukrainian and Polish immigrants came to this small community as they worked in the shops in and nearby the neighborhood.

Burnside continued to prosper as a small town type enclave in the early half of the 20th century as the population stayed below 3,500 residents.  After World War II this isolated community attracted more attention from developers because of the many vacant areas that were perfect for housing construction of middle class homes, this long time working class community was now becoming more middle class.

In the 1950s decade the youths in this community began forming some pretty tough greaser gangs which would begin a legacy of gang violence in this neighborhood as these greasers mainly targeted African American gangs in nearby neighborhoods like Roseland.

In the 1960s decade middle class African Americans began to build homes in the vacant areas of Burnside and they also bought houses from elderly and retired immigrant workers which caused the white community to react especially the greaser gangs.  Nearby Roseland and Pullman were experiencing their first influxes of African Americans in the second half of the 1960s which caused all three neighborhoods to come together to petition against the spread of African Americans and to also use violent methods if needed.

The white greaser gangs continued to fight off blacks and black gangs going all the way into the mid-1970s when residents of Burnside just decided to move out as black families moved in.

In the later 1970s much of the steel industry began collapsing causing several layoffs in this south side area which depreciated the value of the neighborhood and caused disinvestment in communities like Burnside, white flight then took its course in this community.

Starting in the mid-1970s, shady Federal Housing Authority loans caused many residents to not be able to pay that bill and their houses were foreclosed causing many vacant homes in the community.

In the very early 1980s the steel mills completely closed down and Pullman Car Factory closed its doors which caused an alarmingly high level of unemployment in Burnside.

Burnside started as a working class community then transitioned into a middle class community, now in the 1980s it became a lower income class community that became invaded by violent African American street gangs from other neighborhoods, the rest of the white population left in the early 1980s as the gangs moved in.  Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers conquered territory in the neighborhood starting in the early 1980s.

Burnside has since been the scene of high murder rates and extreme violence even though the neighborhood has retained a population of only 3,500 or less over the years.  At many times Burnside rated as the most violent neighborhood in Chicago and the most dangerous place to live despite having less urban decay then other neighborhoods nearby.  Burnside is not heavily blighted but there are still several vacant homes.


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