Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

Origins Settled by Archibald Clybourne in 1823 and annexed in 1889
Area North Side

Diversey Parkway on the north, North Avenue on the south, Lake Michigan on the east and the Chicago River on the west

Gangs founded Insane Deuces,
Archibald Clybourne

Lincoln Park was first settled in 1823 by Archibald Clybourne (pictured, left) as he built a slaughterhouse on the present day Elston Avenue.  There was also a military post built there right around the same time that branched from the nearby Fort Dearborn.  Yes, Clybourne Avenue was named after Archibald Clybourne.

In the year 1837 plots of land were sold and many more houses were built in the area turning this into a community that mostly comprised of German immigrants.  The “City Cemetery” and also a small pox hospital were built that same year.

The land was basically an area of misery in the early days until the 1850s when wealthy elites complained about the pollution and overcrowded grave sites.  It was an unattractive and nasty area; therefore, in 1863 the cemetery was removed and made way for a public area. The area was named “Lake Park,” then in 1865 it was renamed “Lincoln Park” named immediately after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 damaged the majority of the Lincoln Park area and rebuilding happened after this.  Part of the rebuild was the creation of the Lincoln Park Zoo that opened in 1874.

In the year 1889 Lincoln Park was officially annexed into the City Of Chicago. After the fire Lincoln Park experienced the migration of Polish, Romanian, Italian, Hungarian and Slovak working class residents that settled along the west side of Lincoln Park which gave the neighborhood a working class element.

In the 1930s the working class element of Lincoln Park became downtrodden by the Great Depression era and homes and apartment buildings began to be neglected for repairs and renewal.  The area would continue to see some deterioration in west Lincoln Park especially through the 1940s and 1950s.  The earliest wave of Puerto Rican migration moved into this western part of the neighborhood in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In the year 1959 when construction caused urban displacement in the Near West Side neighborhood, scores of more Puerto Rican migrants moved into the west side of Lincoln Park primarily.  The destruction of the “La Clark” settlement in the old Town section of the Near North Side neighborhood also brought more Puerto Ricans to Lincoln Park.  The more deteriorated homes and apartments made for cheaper rent which was great for the poorer Puerto Rican migrants, but as soon as they arrived they were met with animosity and hate from those that wanted the area to remain an all-white neighborhood, this led to the formation of one of the earlier Puerto Rican street gangs the “Young Lords.”

Not only were there impoverished Puerto Rican families there were also several impoverished white families living in Lincoln Park and by the 1960s Lincoln Park was having an issue with poverty stricken residents.

Beginning in the year 1960 many Puerto Rican youths organized social athletic clubs and other clubs that allowed them to stay in larger numbers and avoid attacks from hostile groups.  The Young Lords were the first to become a gang in 1959 then by 1960 more groups either converted into gangs or started off as gangs.  Groups like the Paragons and Villa Lobos were notable groups.

In the year 1960 Lincoln Park began urban renewal programs that geared at removing the newly arrived Puerto Rican people out of Lincoln Park.  Movements tried to prevent this forced migration from happening in the earlier 1960s but by 1964 several Puerto Ricans were forced out and the Young Lords street gang spread elsewhere while still keeping their headquarters in this community at the intersection of Armitage and Dayton. By 1966 more of the Puerto Rican populace was removed by urban renewal pushed most of the remaining Puerto Rican populace into west Humboldt Park.  The Latin Kings would remain in Lincoln Park and developed a very strong section over here as they clashed with white greaser gangs.

In the 1970s Lincoln Park experienced the arrival of some violent street gangs such as the Simon City Royals and the Insane Unknowns.  The Insane Unknowns arrived in 1974 then grew large around Ashland and Wrightwood while the Royals settled at Fullerton and Southport.  By 1976 the two gangs engaged in a vicious gang war that caused a major disruption in the neighborhood that carried on well through the 1990s.  The end of this gang war was brought about by urban renewal of west Lincoln Park and the arrival of many high class yuppies that bought out all the old property for renewal by the early 2000s.

Lincoln Park is on this list because it is the motherland of the Young Lords and the major Latin King section originated by King Richie and was a major site of Simon City Royals and Insane Unknowns.  The neighborhood had its gangster days on the west side of this community, and the notorious Julia C. Lathrop projects lie partially within the borders of Lincoln Park at the intersection of Clybourne, Damen and Diversey which became the site of more gang problems with the Insane Deuces and Latin Kings street gangs.  Currently gang activity is extremely minimal to non-existent in this neighborhood.