|Settled c. 1845 and annexed c. 1889
Orange line EL tracks on the north, 59th Street on the south, railroad tracks on the east, railroad tracks on the west
|Insane Guess Boys,
|Latin Kings, Satan Disciples, Party People, Vice Lords,
This area was first settled in the 1840s by German immigrants that built their farm houses in the area. In the year 1850 this area became a part of Lake Township and when the Union Stock Yards opened in 1865 this area became a part of the town of “Lake.” In the year 1873 Chicago commissioner and president of the Chicago White Stockings professional baseball team (now known today as the Chicago Cubs) George W. Gage laid out a plan to build a park at the intersection of Western Avenue and Garfield Boulevard, after his death in 1875 the park was named after him as “Gage Park.”
The area remained very barren farmland even by the time annexation into Chicago came in 1889. In the 1900s decade the electric trolley line extended services to Western Avenue and Kedzie Street which brought Bohemian and Polish immigrants to settle in the community that mainly worked at the Union Stock Yards.
Nearby “Marquette Manor” subdivision was laid out in 1911 in the neighborhood next to Gage Park which brought more settlers to this area. Western Avenue and Garfield Boulevard (then known as 55th Street) were paved and by 1919 the area was ready for a boom in population as the area was named “Gage Park” after George W. Gage’s family that resided in the neighborhood.
In the 1920s Slavic and Lithuanians migrated to Gage Park especially after Central Steel and Wire moved its headquarters to Western Avenue in 1924. Royal Crown Bottling Company and World’s Finest Chocolate provided more employment opportunities in the 1930s and 1940s in Gage Park and the community prospered.
The first gang elements came to Gage Park in the 1950s as white greaser gangs formed to battle other greaser clubs from Back of The Yards and Marquette Park. Greaser gangs like the 59th Street Supreme Rulers, Artesian Cobras and the Mad Lads had formed in this community in the 1950s.
The 1960s and 1970s saw the worst racial tensions in Gage Park between whites and blacks as there was a city plan to move African Americans in between Marquette Park and Gage Park. The Gage Park community was outraged, and the greaser gangs were ready to take violent action. The “Southside Head Inc” was especially one greaser group that operated from Gage Park all the way south to the Ashburn neighborhood; they fought to keep blacks out of the neighborhood and even opposed Hispanic migration. The South Side Heads wanted to persevere their neighborhoods for fears that the migration of lower income classes would bring the value of the neighborhood down. The Heads and most of the neighborhood also feared a cultural change that would change the neighborhood. The Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party groups also came to Gage Park to protest and prevent blacks from moving in using methods of violence and burning crosses on lawns.
In 1966 Martin Luther King led a march of protest that came through Gage Park and Marquette Park against discrimination of housing, the Black P Stones escorted Dr. King and this is when white greasers fought the Black P Stones in the streets of Gage Park. African Americans were kept out of Gage Park for the most part in the 1960s and 1970s even though Gage Park High School now had to let in black students in 1972 which caused several brawls and protests.
The goal of groups like Southwest Community Congress and Southwest Parish and Neighborhood Federation wanted to ease racial tensions so black families could move in but not under the terms of block busting; however, African Americans did not make Gage Park their home.
In the year 1977, Crane Manufacturing was experiencing early signs of decline, especially by 1979. This caused many families to lose employment; however, Gage Park residents still remained in the area proving the Crane Manufacturing closures did not stop these families from earning and maintaining their neighborhood. Nearby Marquette Park residents were more affected by this closure as families began to move out as Hispanic families took their place. Fears began to generate in Gage Park that the Hispanic migration wave would move over the 59th Street border; however, that did not yet happen.
In the year 1980, Crane Manufacturing closed its doors but this closure seemed to effect nearby Brighton Park instead as white flight soon began in that community but Gage Park remained a white community during most of the 1980s and the main gang that ruled these streets was the South Side Heads. In the year 1983 the Insane Popes of the south side would move into this community to fight for the same causes as the Heads.
In the year 1988, Gage Park would begin a major change as white families began to leave this community in large numbers in favor of new lives in the suburbs. Hispanic families began to find this neighborhood an ideal place to live as these streets were safer than many surrounding neighborhoods and offered good schools. Many Hispanic parents wanted to shelter their children from violent gang life from neighborhoods like Little Village or even Marquette Park. Older gang members from other communities also landed here in the late 1980s to begin a new life for their children; however, it soon became discovered that many of the youths from those higher crime areas were still devoted to the gang life. This was further enhanced when Hispanic youths began attending school with students from other gang controlled areas like Marquette Park and soon became bullied and antagonized by gang members from other communities. Hispanic youths also experienced discrimination and bullying from groups of white youths and adult white residents that were infuriated because of the new arrival of Hispanic people that much of this neighborhood opposed for decades. Most Hispanic families were settling between 55th Street to 59th Street at the southern base of the community. Gang affiliations soon flared up and the biggest gang to move in was the notorious Latin Kings that moved right next to Gage Park High School. Now Latin Kings were recruiting in large volumes very quickly between 1988 and 1989 amassing very large numbers. These Latin Kings were for youths fed with discrimination and with Marquette Park gangs like Ambrose and Two Six. Some black families and black gangs were moving into the western park of Marquette Park which further drew more Hispanic youths to join the Latin Kings as there were also racial tensions between blacks and Hispanics. These Latin Kings would conquer 51st to 58th and from California to Pulaski in no time.
Just south of Latin King territory Two Six and Ambrose now made their way onto 59th Street as they not only went at it with Latin Kings they also viciously battled each other for these streets. Just east of these groups a party group formed that heavily vowed to war with Latin Kings called the Guess Boys. The Guess Boys would eventually become the Insane Guess Boys and would tightly ally with the Gangster Disciples.
Gang rivalry became heated and extremely violent by 1989. Latin Kings consumed what was left of the South Side Head younger members sympathizing with their struggle against other gangs under the Folk alliance like Two Six, Gangster Disciples, Ambrose and Guess Boys. Gage Park was supposed to be a good getaway for Hispanic families trying to escape violence but the youths would fall into the gang life heavily by 1989. A good example of this is the founding story of the Gangster Party People of 56th and Maplewood. It started with a family trying to relocate after their son fell victim to extreme gang violence on the streets of Pilsen leaving him an invalid for a year. The family was victimized by the Ambrose gang of 59th because of reputation but when the son came out of his vegetative state he went on to lead the original crew of the Gage Park Party People who would prove to be one of the downest gang elements the streets of Gage Park had ever seen and why the Party People are still here.
By the early 1990s the gangs of Gage Park had developed and were a major presence in the community as white flight took off in large volumes. At this point white gangs like the Insane Popes could no longer oppose Hispanic migration they had to now choose to only fight against Folk allied gangs.
In the year 1991, some black families began moving into the area of 59th and Campbell and this is when the Gangster Disciples arrived and recruited Hispanic youths heavily. The Gangster Disciples became very popular in Gage Park in the 1990s because of this recruitment as even 59th Street Two Six began to flip to GDs. The Black P Stones arrived among the black families too and took over 59th and Campbell but the Stones were only for blacks, this limitation perhaps is one of the reason this section was short lived while the GDs continued on.
In the year 1993 the Satan Disciples began a chapter on 59th Street which quickly became very popular with Gage Park youths. There was also a recruitment drive of the Gangster Disciples that took in many Mexican youths that year. Ambrose and Imperial Gangsters would close their territories in 1993 after the Satan Disciples arrived. As Gangster Disciples and Satan Disciples became very large Two Six withdrew from the area closing all their Gage Park turf in 1993. This was done after making a deal with Party People and Gangster Disciples. Ambrose left the area after dealing with too costly of wars simultaneously with Party People, Latin Kings and others.
Between the year 1991-1995 the border street with Marquette Park along 59th Street became the site of the most intense violence as this street not only bordered two neighborhoods it also bordered all these gangs. Guess Boys, Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Party People, La Raza, Satan Disciples, Ambrose, Two Six all had territory along this street and Latin Kings were just a block away battling all these Folk alliance gangs. Some gangs rose while others fell during this dangerous era in Gage Park history.
In the year 1995, the Maniac Latin Disciples colonized Gage Park brought in by Gus. This section would eventually get big between 55th and 59th Streets. Two Sixs would also make a comeback for a brief amount of time but would flip to Gangster Disciples. The Maniac Latin Disciples were a major addition to the gang violence in the later part of the 1990s as they were involved in several shootings and deaths both on the receiving end and the distribution end.
In 1997, the Conservative Vice Lords took 57th and Artesian area and pushed out Black P Stones. Many black youths moving to Gage Park were lured in by the CVLs making this one of the major gangs in Gage Park as they still exist here today.
The neighborhood erupted into gang violence especially in the 1990s which proved to be the worst decade. Mexican migration heavily increased in the 1990s as more white families fled to escape the gang violence and drugs in the neighborhood, Gage Park then became one of the tougher neighborhoods in Chicago. In the 21st century housing values have increased which has brought some more middle-class Hispanic families to the area which has helped curb some of the violence; however, Gage Park still remains one of the tougher neighborhoods in Chicago but is not a slum.
In the 1970s Gage Park was ruled by the South Side Heads
In the early and mid-1980s Gage Park was still ruled by the Heads and the Insane Popes became an influential group by the mid-80s
In the late 1980s Gage Park was ruled by Latin Kings, Two Six, Ambrose, Guess Boys and Party People
In the early 1990s Gage Park was ruled by Latin Kings, Two Six, Ambrose, Party People, Guess Boys and Gangster Disciples
In the mid-1990s and late 1990s Gage Park was ruled by Latin Kings, Party People, Gangster Disciples, Satan Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords and Maniac Latin Disciples
In the 2000s Gage Park was ruled by Latin Kings, Party People, Gangster Disciples, Satan Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Maniac Latin Disciples
In the 2010s up to present Gage Park is dominated by Latin Kings, Party People, Satan Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords. Latin Kings and Satan Disciples are the largest in size.
The Guess Boys would return in 1999 but were gone by the year 2000 after another costly war with the Party People.
Maniac Latin Disciples left the area in more recent decades.
In later decades gang wars and violence continued often getting Gage Park considered one of Chicago’s more dangerous communities.
Gage Park is founding land of the Insane Guess Boys.
Latin Kings Established 1988-present years
51st to 58th and from California to Pulaski (Crown Town) 1988-present years
Ambrose Established 1988-1993
54th Pl & Claremont (The Wall)
59th & Homan (Homan Homicide) Established 1988-1993
Maplewood from 51st to 52nd
Black P Stones Established 1991-1997
59th & Campbell Established 1991-1997
53rd & Rockwell
57th & Rockwell
57th & Mozart
Party People Established 1989-present years
55th to 59th, Talman to Campbell (G-Town) Established 1989-present years
Fairfield from 57th to 59th Established 1995
Two Six Established 1988-1993
56th to 59th, Campbell to Talman Established 1988-1993
58th & Albany (Smoke Town)
Satan Disciples Established 1993-present years
58th to 59th, Central Park Ave to Sacramento Established 1993-present years
59th & Homan
59th & Mozart
Fairfield from 57th to 59th
Gangster Disciples Established 1991-2010s
58th & Rockwell
59th & Campbell
Maniac Latin Disciples Established 1995-2010s
55th to 56th, Talman to Washtenaw Established 1995-2010s
55th to 59th, Rockwell to California (Outlaw City) Established 1995-2010s
57th & Trumbull
Insane Popes (south side group) Established 1983-2000s
53rd & Kedzie Established 1983-2000s
Conservative Vice Lords Established 1997-present years
57th & Artesian (Ace Block/Boogie World) Established 1997-present years
Insane Guess Boys Established 1988-2000
55th to 58th, Talman to Western Established 1988-1993
59th & Talman Established 1999-2000
Imperial Gangsters 1988-1993
59th & Spaulding 1988-1993