Humboldt Park (West Humboldt Park)
Humboldt Park (West Humboldt Park)

Humboldt Park (West Humboldt Park)

Origins Annexed in 1869
Area West Side

Bloomingdale Avenue on the north, railroad tracks just north of Kinzie Street on the south, Humboldt Boulevard wrapping around the park North Avenue to Kedzie Avenue then running into Augusta Boulevard around the park to Sacramento Boulevard then dipping down Grand Avenue and Rockwell all on the east, Kenton Avenue on the west

Gangs founded Latin Pachucos, Unknowns Player and Kings (UPK), Latin Kings,
Gangs headquartered Insane Unknowns, Latin Kings, Vice Lords, Los Bebe Stones, Gangster Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, La Raza, Four Corner Hustlers, New Breeds,

Not much is known about this piece of land prior to 1869, other than it was a beautiful conservation land that was converted into a park.  There were possibly a few settlers in the years prior to 1869, but the story really starts in that year when it was officially annexed into the city of Chicago as a neighborhood that would offer beautiful landscapes outside the hustle and bustle of the inner city.  The neighborhood was named after naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt in 1869.

In the 1870s this neighborhood experienced a boom as many houses were built and Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish immigrants made their way to reside within these boundaries.  Within a decade or two German immigrants joined the Scandinavians as the population grew.  Industrialization did not come to this community to conserve the beauty of the area instead workers commuted to and from work while enjoying the prairie landscapes from their Humboldt Park homes.

In the 1920s Italian, Russian, Polish, and Jewish residents moved into this neighborhood as the Scandinavians moved out and by the 1930s this community was still being enjoyed in the same way by the new migrants as was enjoyed by the Scandinavians.

During the 1940s- and 1950s-decade West Humboldt Park was known as a beautiful neighborhood home to middle class and upper middle-class families.  The neighborhood was safe and had low crime.  West Humboldt Park in this era was an ideal place to raise a family.

In the early to mid-1950s the earliest Puerto Rican families moved to West Humboldt Park mainly residing in the area south of Chicago Avenue to Franklin Boulevard.  Puerto Rican families were settling the northern East Garfield Park area at that time and the area north of Franklin Boulevard was the Humboldt Park extension of that settlement.  Some of the properties south of Chicago Ave became affordable to Puerto Rican middle-class families who now could enjoy the ideal middle-class life of West Humboldt Park.  The reason for decrease in property values south of Chicago Avenue was that East Garfield Park was racially changing to a majority black community and had been disinvested by the city and the banks.  This area of West Humboldt Park was closest to East Garfield Park.  This is the area of Chicago Avenue on the north, Franklin Boulevard on the south, Sacramento on the east and Pulaski Road on the west.  This was the beginning of fears in West Humboldt Park that the community was going to change culturally and become redlined.

In the year 1956, on West Humboldt Park streets a gang known as “Simon City.”  Simon City was said to be the toughest gang in the neighborhood that mainly consisted of Italian greaser type youths. Later that year a gang formed in the East Humboldt Park neighborhood called the Jokers and both gangs became bitter rivals.

In the year 1960, property values decreased further in the area south of Chicago Avenue and this made this area a target for block busting as fears of a black and/or Hispanic takeover was coming, and many homeowners were tricked by this and began to move out of this part of the neighborhood.  Neighboring East Garfiled Park was now full or crime and blight and African American street gangs moved in which further enhanced these fears and gave blockbusters for fuel. This area now became more affordable for impoverished Puerto Rican families who now began to settle in higher volumes south of Chicago Avenue.

As the neighborhood began to change racially in the area south of Chicago Avenue white greaser gangs formed along Chicago Avenue ready to defend the cultural identity of the community while fighting with each other for the most part.  Gangs like Chicago and Lawndale, Chicago Avenue gang, Harding Drakers (Chicago and Harding area) formed beginning in 1960 and many among these groups bullied Puerto Rican youths.  This began racial conflicts in the West Humboldt Park community.  Groups of Puerto Rican youths gathered to fight back against discrimination.  Puerto Rican youths began to assemble at the intersection of Spaulding and Ohio and formed a gang called the “Kings.”  This group immediately got into it with the East Humboldt Park area Jokers.

The area south of Chicago Avenue began to become a higher crime area and was becoming shunned to an extent by the community north of Chicago Avenue.  Criminal elements began to move through the area, and this began the era of high crime along Chicago Avenue as the issues began in West Humboldt Park in the early to mid-60s.

In the year 1963, the University of Illinois at Chicago construction removed many Hispanic people from the Near West Side.  Some of these families took up residence in the mostly white area around Division and Kedzie.  This sparked racial clashes as Hispanic people were now north of the Chicago Avenue color line.  The Noble Knights gang from East Humboldt Park then arrived at Division and Kedzie to assist the Hispanic community as they battled white greaser gangs.

In the year 1964 the Kings from Spaulding and Ohio founed the Latin Kings. The Latin Kings were officially assembled in the actual Humboldt Park recreational park.  Kedzie and Ohio became one of the first two Latin Kings sections in Chicago history.  The Latin Kings vowed to protect the Hispanic community in West Humboldt Park by any means necessary but by 1966 Latin Kings mainly battled other Hispanic gangs.  The Latin Kings would prove to be the dominating group.

In June of 1966 when the Division Streets riots happened many West Humboldt Park residents became very concerned with the future of the Humboldt Park area and began preparation the embark in white flight. The white flight was the heaviest south of Chicago Avenue that by 1967 this area of the community was majority non-white or possibly almost exclusively non-white. By 1967 this area became a more dangerous area with high crime and violent gang activity. The greaser gangs had now left the area as did most of the Puerto Rican community. The Puerto Rican populace migrated north of Chicago Avenue up to Division Street and east of Pulaski to the Humboldt Park actual Park at Kedzie street. When the Puerto Rican community arrived on these streets they were met with further animosity and discrimination; however, white gangs began to decline in the northeastern area of West Humboldt Park which was where the Puerto Rican community was moving to. The Latin Kings arrived alongside this migration wave as they abandoned Kedzie and Ohio as they flipped the Noble Knights into Latin Kings. The Latin Kings now moved into the center of Hispanic migration at Beach and Spaulding where they would ferociously battled groups that victimized their neighborhood and the Hispanic community; however, Latin Kings were very violent toward any other Hispanic gangs trying to develop in this new Hispanic settlement. Within no time the Latin Kings removed other Hispanic gangs and became the only Hispanic gang in West Humboldt Park. These Latin Kings were the most legendary Latin Kings in history and many legends surround the Beach and Spaulding Latin Kings. The Latin Kings became the mafia of West Humboldt Park as soon as they opened Beach and Spaulding. These were some of the baddest Latin Kings in history.

As Puerto Rican people left the area south of Chicago Ave black middle-class and lower income classes moved into this area.  The Supreme Gangsters of Englewood had just settled in the neighboring West Garfield Park neighborhood and now wanted to spread more on the west side.  This was an aggressive campaign and the Supreme Gangsters landed on the streets of West Humboldt Park in 1968 mainly settling in the Huron and Homan in large numbers as they started to claim the areas of Spaulding to Monticello and Huron to Franklin trying to take over the whole southeast region.  The Black Souls of East and West Garfield Park were also interested in the area around Monticello and Homan, and this began extreme gang violence between the two gangs that made the news papers in the early 1970s.  The Black Souls would eventually not be able to settle West Humboldt Park, but the Supreme Gangsters earned their keep.

In the year 1969 white flight had ran its course heavily in West Humboldt Park but the neighborhood remained majority white for now.  Most of the white population was residing in the area of Bloomingdale Trail on the north, Division from Central Park Ave to Pulaski then down to Division on the south, Central Park Ave to the Austin border.  White greaser gangs like Simon City went extinct by 1969 creating a need for a large white gang to move in.  The Gaylords began a branch at Monticello and Augusta and within no time the branch became very popular among frustrated white youths fed up with Latin Kings.  The Gaylords arrived to protect the original cultural values of this mostly Italian community.  Many residents in this area despised the racial change and many supported the Gaylords.  The Gaylords’ arch enemy was Latin Kings as this was one of the earliest major gang rivalries in West Humboldt Park.

In the year 1971 as Hispanic migration grew larger the Gaylords invited the Playboys and Simon City Royals into the neighborhood to continue to fight for the rest of the white community.  All three of these gangs battled the Latin Kings side by side but Latin Kings were very powerful especially now that they declared Beach and Spaulding to be the new headquarters for the entire Latin King organization.  Gaylords, Royals and Playboys fought viciously but could not defeat the Latin Kings and in 1976 these gangs surrendered these streets and could now afford to partake in white flight.  Many of the white families that lived in West Humboldt Park in the late 60s until 1976 were struggling families that could not afford the suburbs until the fateful bi-centennial year.  This ended the legacy of white gangs in West Humboldt Park.

By 1973 or 1974 gang violence toned down in the south of Chicago Ave area in the black community as Black Souls left the area.  Supreme Gangsters remained but were not as much of a presence.  Police activity may have been responsible for the quieting of gang activity in this area for a few years.

After the newest white flight wave in the bi-centennial year of 1976, Puerto Rican settlement came to the northwest quadrant.  The Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Insane Unknowns and Imperial Gangsters arrived becoming permanent groups in this neighborhood.  These groups were settling the K-Town area of the neighborhood while Conservative Vice Lords had now moved into the southern part of the K-Town section.  Black migration also increased in West Humboldt Park during the bi-centennial year bringing new factions of Vice Lords like Traveling Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, and Unknown Vice Lords.  The Insane Vice Lords took pockets of Chicago Avenue the CVLs did not claim, and the Insane Vice Lords began a legacy of violently defending this area.  Large quantities of heroin began to move along Chicago Avenue as Insane Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords and Unknown Vice Lords became a major part of this heroin pipeline.

Members of the Young Lords settled in northwest West Humboldt Park in 1976 moving in among Spanish Cobras and Maniac Latin Disciples.  In this area Young Lords bonded with Spanish Cobras over “YLO” concepts which became concepts the Spanish Cobras and Maniac Latin Disciples would bond over creating the YLO Cobras and YLO Disciples.  By 1980 two gangs would form out of this known as YLO Cobras and YLO Disciples.

By the late 1970s West Humboldt Park became one of the more violent and dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago as gang wars became intense as this neighborhood was now a gang crowded area.

In the year 1981 the Supreme Gangsters were always part of the Black Gangster Disciples alliance and when that name was adopted to represent the majority of the alliance the Supreme Gangsters were now only known as Black Gangster Disciples.  By 1994 they were known as the Gangster Disciples we known today.

In the year 1983 Mexican families were moving into the West Humboldt Park and many were impoverished and needed to move south of Chicago Ave.  Mexican youths were bullied by black and Puerto Rican gangs which caused the Los Pachucos to form to protect each other from becoming victim to bullying.  By 1985 this group became the Latin Pachucos as they migrated north of Chicago Avenue taking a large piece of K-Town near the Insane Unknowns.  Pachucos would have violent gang wars with Folk alliance gangs like Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, YLO Disciples, YLO Cobras and Imperial Gangsters.

In 1985 as Mexican families settled West Humboldt Park in Spanish Cobra and Maniac Latin Disciple neighborhoods the La Raza street gang arrived at Keystone and Wabansia in the K-Town area instantly clashing with Insane Unknowns, Latin Pachucos and Latin Kings.

In the 1980s West Humboldt Park became an exclusively Hispanic and black community as both cultures endured struggles with gang violence, poverty, and high crime.  Many residents attempted to fight back against the crime or even set up community organizations, but this community had seemingly uncontrollable crime.  West Humboldt Park became highly disinvested in the 1980s and many businesses closed draining the local economy.  High poverty steered many youths to join neighborhood gangs.

In the 1990s Four Corner Hustlers, New Breeds, and Ashland Vikings migrated into this community as Four Corner Hustlers attached themselves to Vice Lord factions and at times then turned against them engaging in vicious gang wars.  New Breeds convinced a large portion of Gangster Disciples to flip to Breeds which allowed the Breeds to become a part of this community.

In the early 1990s the Insane Vice Lords were so violent it ended up costing them legal issues which ushered in the Mafia Insane Vice Lords and Imperial Insane Vice Lords that absorbed these Chicago Avenue operations.

West Humboldt Park continues to be unique as it is blend of mostly Puerto Rican and African American culture.  Many residents have great pride in this community, and it had shown as West Humboldt Park has been mostly free of urban blight.

Despite efforts of the community gangs and crime continue to be at high levels presently since the 1970s.  West Humboldt Park continues to be classified as one of the more dangerous communities in Chicago. Many get confused that West Humboldt Park is experiencing gentrification but all the gentrification is in East Humboldt Park which is east of the park and technically part of West Town.

Just to clarify, this neighborhood is west of the actual Humboldt Park, the other side of the park is technically West Town.

In the 1960s decade Simon City ran this neighborhood until Latin Kings arrived north of Chicago Ave in 1967.

In the 1970s West Humboldt Park was dominated by Latin Kings, Conservative Vice Lords and Black Gangster Disciples

In the 1980s West Humboldt Park was dominated by Latin Kings Conservative Vice Lords, Black Gangster Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Imperial Gangsters, Maniac Latin Disciples, Insane Unknowns and Latin Pachucos

In the 1990s up to present years West Humboldt Park has been dominated by Latin Kings, Conservative Vice Lords, Spanish Cobras and Traveling Vice Lords

West Humboldt Park is the birth place of the Simon City gang and the beginning of the Simon City Royal legacy.  West Humboldt Park is also partial and large part of the birthing of the Latin Kings.

These are the significant gangs that have walked these streets over time:

Playboys Ventures Pulaski Park Established 1971-1975

North Ave & Kedvale (PVG) Established 1971-1975

Warlords Established 1978-1993 (La Familia Warlords)

Division & Spaulding Established 1978-1993 (La Familia Warlords)

Unknowns Players and Kings Established 1982-1987

Grand to Thomas to Drake Established 1982-1987 (Grand Playlot)

North Ave & Sawyer

Thomas to Augusta, Monticello to Drake Established 1982-1987

Imperial Gangsters Established 1976-present years

Wabansia & Central Park Ave (Devil Side IGs)

Bloomingdale Ave to Grand, Springfield to Monticello (Cameron City Outlaws) Established 1976

Hirsch & Spaulding Established 1976

Gaylords Established 1969-1975

Wabansia to Augusta, Monticello to Springfield Established 1969-1975

Latin Pachucos Established 1983-1992

Karlov & Hirsch (Alfred Noble Elementary School) Established 1983-1992

Division to Thomas, Pulaski to Kolmar Established 1984-1992

Hirsch & Keeler Established 1992-1992

Los Be Be Stones Established 2006-present years

Crystal & Homan Established 2006-present years

Simon City Royals Established 1971-1975

Drake & Wabansia (Simons Park, Simon City gang) Established 1956-1970

Kildare & Thomas (As Simon City Royals) Established 1971-1975

Latin Kings Established 1960-present years

Kedzie & Ohio 1960-1964 as the Kings, 1964-1967 as Latin Kings

Shakespeare to North Ave, St. Louis to Kedzie (Nano World) Partially in Logan Square

Bloomingdale to Wabansia, Albany to Humboldt (Wild West)

North Ave to Grand, Kedzie to Central Park Ave (Motherland)

Bloomingdale to North Ave, Central Park to St. Louis

Hirsch & Kostner

Four Corner Hustlers 1990s-present years

Division to Thomas, Keeler to Karlov

Division to Thomas, Pulaski to Springfield 1990s-present years

Iowa to Chicago, Avers to Hamlin (The Ave)

Ashland Vikings Mid-1980s-present years

North Ave to Lemoyne, Keeler to Pulaski (GK Street, K-Town) Mid-1980s-present years

Latin Jivers 2010s-present years

Thomas to Augusta, Monticello to Central Park Ave (Cello Block) 2010s-present years

Spanish Cobras Established 1976-present years

Bloomindale to Wabansia, Tripp to Kedvale (Snake Pit) Established 1976-present years

North Ave to Hirsch, Lemoyne to Ridgeway Established 1976-present years

Ridgeway to Hamlin, Division to Thomas Established 1976-present years

Insane Unknowns Established 1976-present years

Grand to Cortez, Kostner to Pulaski (K-Town Unknowns) Established 1976-present years

Grand & Kolmar

North Ave & Kedzie

Iowa & Springfield

YLO Cobras Established 1976-2000

North Ave to Hirsch, Pulaski to Avers (Duk’s Hot Dogs, Assassin’s Hood) Established 1976-2000

La Raza Established 1985-present years

Wabansia to North Ave, Kostner to Kildare 1985-present years

Bloomingdale to Wabansia, Keystone to Pulaski (DK Town) 1985-present years

YLO Disciples Established 1976-present years

Wabansia to North Ave, Francisco to California (Motherland) Established 1976-present years

Wabansia to Le Moyne, Keystone to Wabansia (Keystone Playlot, Devil’s Playground, Paisa City) 1990s-present years

Maniac Latin Disciples Established 1976-present years

Hirsch to Grand, Harding to Hamlin (Grand City) Established 1976-present years

Spanish Lords Established 1988-1994

Hirsch to Augusta, Keeler to Karlov (Keeler & Potomac 1988-1993) Established 1988-1994

New Breeds Established 1992-present years

Division to Thomas, Hamlin to Lawndale Established 1992-present years

Gangster Disciples Established as Supreme Gangsters 1968-present years

Division from Karlov to Pulaski 90s

Huron to Franklin, Homan to Spaulding (Chain Gang)

Conservative Vice Lords Established 1976-present years

Augusta to Chicago, Karlov to Pulaski

Crystal to Grand, Homan to Kedzie

Chicago to Ohio, Hamlin to Central Park Ave (CCG)

Huron to Kinzie, Pulaski to Hamlin

Evergreen & Homan

Division & Lawndale

Iowa & Springfield

Chicago Ave from Keystone to Lawndale (The Ave, former Insane Vice Lord territory)

Chicago Ave from Homan to Kedzie (The Ave, shared with Unknown Vice Lords)

Chicago Ave from Pulaski to Lawndale (Bogus Side, shared with Four Corner Hustlers)

Chicago & Lawndale

Insane Vice Lords Established 1976-1990s

Keystone to Lawndale, Augusta to Huron (The Ave)

Mafia Insane Vice Lords Early 1990s-present years

Augusta to Iowa, Hamlin to Lawndale

Chicago from Monticello to Drake

Augusta & Monticello (Shared with Conservative Vice Lords)

Outlaw Lunatic Traveling Vice Lords 90s-2000s

Chicago Ave & Trumbull 90s-2000s

Traveling Vice Lords Established 1976-present years

Augusta & Kilpatrick

Chicago Ave & St. Louis

Chicago Ave & Trumbull

Chicago Ave & Lawndale (TUC, Traveling Unknown Conservative Vice Lord City)

Ohio & Kedzie (KO)

Augusta to Chicago, Kolmar to Kostner

Augusta to Iowa, St. Louis to Homan

Chicago to Franklin, St. Louis to Homan (Demon side)

Unknown Vice Lords Established 1976-present years

Chicago Ave from Homan to Kedzie (Shared with Conservative Vice Lords)

Potomac & Pulaski

Augusta to Franklin, Central Park Ave to Kedzie

Imperial Insane Vice Lords Early 1990s-2011

Thomas to Chicago Ave, Pulaski to Keystone Early 1990s-2011