Origins Settled by John A. Kennicott c. 1855 and annexed in 1889
Area South Side

43rd Street on the north, Hyde Park Boulevard on the south, Lake Michigan on the east, Cottage Grove Avenue on the west

This area was first settled sometime in the 1850s by John A. Kennicott as he built his home near the railroad tracks by present day 48th and Lake Park Avenue which he called “Kenwood,” and a short time later the whole area was named Kenwood.  Soon after Kennicott moved here, he was joined by wealthy elite Chicagoans that were looking to escape the woes of the city.

In the year 1861 this area was annexed into the Hyde Park Township area.  In the 1860s the population increased soon after the annexation into Hyde Park Township as many Chicago elites moved to this suburban area, and it was heavily praised as an ideal place to live.  The wealthy elites that continued to move in here in the 1880s and 1890s built elegant mansions and some luxury apartments were built in this neighborhood as well.  The area was annexed with Hyde Park Township into Chicago in the year 1889.

In the 1910s and 1920s several smaller apartments were built in kitchenette style that housed white collar office workers that worked downtown.

The 1930s decade was not kind to this neighborhood as poverty sunk in and many wealthy elites began to pack up and leave especially in the northern part of Kenwood that began to house lower class poor transients.  Elegant luxury apartments in the northern part of the neighborhood were divided into kitchenette apartments for the poor and the area began deterioration.

African Americans began moving into the northern half of this neighborhood in the 1930s and then in the 1940s they began moving into the southern half as the rest of the wealthy elite left the neighborhood.

By 1958 the area began to become one of Chicago’s rougher areas.  In the year 1958 the “Devil’s Disciples” street gang formed a section at 49th and Dorchester known as the “East Side Disciples.”  This was one of the first sections for the Devil’s Disciples.

The next few decades were rough in Kenwood as gangs, crime and drug problems plagued this community; however, the wealthier Hyde Park neighbors that were part of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference helped get Kenwood some renewal funds which brought about some renovation in the late 1970s but mainly to the southern part of the neighborhood south of 47th Street; however, the neighborhood still had crime and gang issues, mostly north of 47th Street.

In the late 1970s, the El Rukns and Moroccan Tribe moved into apartments along Lake Park Ave.  The Moroccan Tribe would soon join the ranks of the El Rukns causing Kenwood to be dominated by the El Rukns.  El Rukns then had a rivalry with the Devil’s Disciples that were now known as Black Gangster Disciples.  Around this time or a little later the Conservative Vice Lords moved into this community which resulted in more gang clashing.

By this point in time Kenwood suffered from urban blight and higher crime, the 1980s may have been the worst decade for Kenwood.

Starting in the late 1990s urban renewal exploded and vacant lots were built over and deteriorated buildings were removed or fixed up.  The area once again became resided by middle class and upper middle classes and the crime rate and gang issues dramatically decreased, although most of the renovations and middle classes was occurring south of 47th Street.

The Kenwood neighborhood has gone through such a strong change that it is almost a completely different community than from where it was in the 1990s and back; however, there are still issues with crime and there is gang activity but neither of these elements is very strong here, only moderate, even the northern part of the neighborhood has gone through renovations and there are only a few blighted homes left.

In the 1960s the Disciples ruled these streets.  In 1963 when Hyde Park went through major urban renewal which removed the Disciple headquarters the Disciple influence in the area lessoned; however, a certain amount of Disciple influence staying on these streets permanently.  The Disciples ruled these streets in the 1960s.

In the 1970s this neighborhood was still influenced by the Disciples and El Rukns moved making Disciples and El Rukns as the dominating groups by the end of the decade.

In the 1980s Conservative Vice Lords became a strong influence.  El Rukns and Disciples were also dominant.

In the 1990s and 2000s Conservative Vice Lords, Disciples and some Black P Stone elements were present on these streets.

By later decades Black P Stones had left the area leaving it to the Black Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords who are the dominating groups in recent years.  The Disciple roots remain in this community.

Black P Stones

Lake Park from 43rd to 47th (Moroccan Tribe, El Rukns) Established 1977-1980s

46th & Woodlawn (The Five Point Terrace, El Rukns) Established 1977-1980s

44th & University

46th & Greenwood

Black Disciples Established 1958-1960s

45th to 46th, Greenwood to Woodlawn (THF)

49th & Dorchester Established 1958 as Devil’s Disciples until the 1960s

47th Street Established 1958 as Devil’s Disciples until the 1960s

Gangster Disciples Established 1958-1960s

49th & Dorchester Established 1958 as Devil’s Disciples until the 1960s

47th Street Established 1958 as Devil’s Disciples until the 1960s

Conservative Vice Lords

47th from Ellis to Drexel (The Low End)