Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)
Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)

Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)

Origins Settled by John F. Eberhart in 1871 and annexed in 1889
Area Southwest Side

59th Street on the north, railroad tracks just north of 75th Street on the north, railroad tracks on the east, South Central Park Avenue on the west

Gangs founded Krazy Get Down Boys, Tall Arabian Posse,
Gangs headquartered Krazy Get Down Boys, La Raza, Akrhos (Flip City Kings),

In the year 1871 this area was purchased by John F. Eberhart who founded the “City Of Chicago Lawn” which was a part of Lake Township at the time since 1850.

This community of Chicago Lawn was meant to be a small farming town of German and Irish immigrants for many years to come, even during the time of annexation in 1889.  It was not until the 1920s that there was interest in developing this neighborhood as Polish, Bohemian, Arab and Lithuanians arrived.

Chicago Lawn did not suffer during the Great Depression years in the 1930s and actually evolved into the “Lithuanian Gold Coast” by the 1940s as this decade saw the best years for the neighborhood that had a very strong Lithuanian culture that could boast they had the richest savings and loans in the city.

Chicago Lawn, more known as Marquette Park, was one of the few neighborhoods that had an Arab community.  In the year 1948 when the Israel state was created many more Arab families migrated to Marquette Park mainly living along 63rd Street as they built many mosques and Arab businesses.

In the 1950s decade Marquette Park developed several white greaser gangs that were a part of a very tough breed.  The greasers of Marquette Park would battle with the greaser clubs of nearby Back of The Yards, Gage Park and West Englewood.

By the mid-1960s many of the greaser gangs began focusing their attention toward the arrival of African Americans that planned to settled in nearby West Englewood and the east side of Marquette Park.

The white community, not just the gangs, reacted violently to the city’s plan to move African Americans into Marquette Park and Gage Park.  Racist groups arrived in the 1960s and 1970s like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party that came here to violently force blacks out.  The street gangs the “White Knights” formed in the 1970s that worked to stomp out invading blacks and black gangs.

In 1966 Martin Luther King led a march through Gage Park and Marquette Park to protest the segregated housing in this area; this led to him being hit with a rock.  The Black P Stones street gang escorted Dr. King and this led to fights between white greaser clubs and the Black P Stones.  At the time Black P Stones were moving into the nearby West Englewood neighborhood so ongoing gang wars would ensue after the march.

The Lithuanian culture had fears that African Americans settling in the neighborhood would depreciate the neighborhood and ruin their savings bonds that were vested in their properties; if the property values went way down their savings could be badly affected.  The settling of African Americans prompted massive white flight in many other neighborhoods which resulted in several socioeconomic problems; Lithuanians of Marquette Park feared this disinvestment would happen here.

The American Nazi Party opened their Chicago headquarters in this neighborhood that was there until the 1980s but did not gain much support because the eastern European community that had experienced the horrors of the German Nazi Party during World War II had a bad taste in their mouths about anything that had to do with Nazis.

In the later 1960s, 1970s and even into the 1980s several brawls and vicious racial attacks happened in Marquette Park as this neighborhood became the site of some of the deepest racism in the later years in Chicago.  African American migration to this neighborhood was slow in the 1970s as many families did not move here for fear of violence.  At the same time the African Americans were slowly moving in, Mexican families began taking up residence in this community as well, the neighborhood was becoming a cultural melting pot.

By the 1980s many white families had vacated the neighborhood especially in east Marquette Park; however, the white population still made up over 50% of the community.  White flight was slower in this community because of the Lithuanians willingness to remain; however, the arrival of African American and Latino street gangs from other neighborhoods brought gang wars and drug wars into the community which frightened older European residents.  African American gangs like the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords and Black P Stones came to the east of the neighborhood.  Latino gangs like Satan Disciples, Latin Kings, Latin Souls, Ambrose, Latin Counts, Two Six and La Raza arrived in the west side of the neighborhood.  The Krazy Getdown Boys street gang formed here in response to the arrival of migrating gangs to the neighborhood.

By the 1990s Marquette Park became one of the more deadly Chicago neighborhoods as it became the site of many shootings and gang violence, even the Arab youths were gang banging as they started their own gang called the “T.A.P Boys.”  The 1990s was the most violent decade in this neighborhood as gang wars ran rampant.  The east side of Marquette Park began experiencing some deterioration and several vacant properties especially as white flight came in higher volumes especially among the Polish and Irish population, even Lithuanians were finally starting to leave the area.  African Americans eventually made up the largest group in this neighborhood followed by Latinos by the 21st century.  The racial tensions ceased in the 1990s but the gang wars have not.

Marquette Park still remains as one of the tougher and more violent neighborhoods in Chicago.  Marquette Park is the birthplace of the T.A.P Boys and the Krazy Getdown Boys.


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