Near West Side
Near West Side

Near West Side

Origins Settled c. 1830 and annexed c. 1837
Area West Side

Railroad track near Kinzie Avenue on the north, 16th Street on the south, Chicago River on the east, Tallman Avenue and the Pennsylvania railroad tracks on the west

Gangs founded Harrison Gents, Ambrose, New Breeds, Taylor Dukes, Taylor Jousters, Latin Kings, Imperial Chaplins, 14th Street Clovers, Egyptian Cobras,
Gangs headquartered New Breeds, Vice Lords, Black Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers,

The Near West Side neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chicago. Settlement started where the current West Loop section is near the Chicago River. This settlement was mostly Irish immigrants in this far eastern section.

This area was settled in 1830 or prior and annexed during the first annexations of the city in 1837.  Anywhere from Wood Street to the River was annexed into the city.

Beginning in the year 1836 Irish, Bohemian, and African American settlers came to the very northern part of this neighborhood settling between Lake Street on the south and Kinzie Street on the north.  This was the site of the very first African American settlement cluster in the city of Chicago as African American workers came to partake in the grueling labor right at the canal along the very eastern boundary of the neighborhood just east of present-day Canal Street.  This settlement would mostly vacate by 1840 as most African Americans relocated to the first permanent black settlement in the Near South Side community.  Some African American families remained for generations making for easier future passage of later African American settlers in the early 20th century.  This was important for the black community because it was many times almost impossible for African Americans to settle in white neighborhoods.  The African American community by Lake Street was hard rooted in this community giving them rights to these lands during the racially challenging days of restrictive racial covenants.  By the mid-20th century there was a major housing shortage for Chicago African Americans and because the Near West Side already had African American settlement for around 100 years at that point, it made for easier African American settlement in the Near West Side that dodged racial covenants.  This earliest African American settlement was key to Chicago history as it prevented many future African American families from facing homelessness in later decades.

Beginning in the 1840s many of Chicago’s elite made their way into this neighborhood and built a grand society lined with elegant mansions and several shopping strips and easy access to the business district that led right across the river to the downtown Loop.  These wealthy elites were of German, Czech, Bohemian and French descent. The neighborhood was ideal for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the downtown Loop and even some of the crime that could be found there.

In the early 1860s this neighborhood began to experience an influx of lower income class German and Irish immigrants (mainly Irish) as they came to the more south east section in the present day University Village/Little Italy area, this was the beginning of the arrival of the impoverished in this neighborhood that would begin the legacy of socioeconomic problems this neighborhood would face throughout the years.  This was also the period that crime and youth gangs began to form on these streets as this neighborhood was about to devolve into one the poorest and more dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago.

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the neighborhood experienced another onslaught of lower income classes as many packed into the lower half of the neighborhood seeking refuge from the damage of the fire.  200,000 lower income class, poor and hungry migrants came to the area causing a housing crisis as many were stuffed into overcrowded buildings, once again these were primarily Irish lower income classes.  During the 1870s gangs and crime became more rampant as the oldest buildings deteriorated.  Many buildings were of poor construction causing them to be blighted within no time.  In the 1870s some of the wealthy elites were already moving out of the neighborhood leaving behind mansions that were purchased by slum lords that divided the homes into tenement apartments for the impoverished.  The city already noticed a housing crisis in this neighborhood in the 1870s of inadequate and unsafe housing.

In the 1880s and 1890s many Irish and Germans began to leave the southern part of this neighborhood as Italians moved in between Polk Street and Taylor Streets forming “Little Italy” that swarmed with Italian culture.  Russian and Polish Jews also come in at the same time and settled around 16th Street around Maxwell Street and Halsted to create an area in the far southern part of the neighborhood known as Maxwell Street Market area or the “Jewish Ghetto” because of the good amount of poverty the Jewish residents faced, and this is where the famous Maxwell Street Market was at the intersection of Halsted and Maxwell.  Also, at this same time in the late 19th century Greek immigrants made their way north of the Italians and Jews in an area that became known as “Greek Town.”

Although these neighborhoods were thriving with colorful European businesses and churches, there was still an issue with poverty and that is what brought about the need for the Jane Addams Hull House to be constructed in 1889 located in Greek Town.  This house was to help impoverished immigrants assimilate into U.S. culture and to understand the cultures of others around them and for these immigrants to find employment easier and get around in the city.  The Hull House also provided recreation and networking and small levels of basic education, the Hull House did not allow African Americans as they were forced to investigate programs which were of lower quality, another case of racial discrimination that impoverished African Americans faced.

During the later 19th century, the city began investigating the many tenement buildings in the area attempting to force slum lords to keep up with codes.  This proved to be a daunting task and was too large scale of an investigation to complete until they mostly ceased by the turn of the century.  Much of this neighborhood was too heavily blighted and consumed by poverty and crime.  This caused the departure of several wealthier elites in the 1880s and 1890s leaving more mansions to sit vacant of be converted into tenements or skeevy hotels.

The Near West Side became an epicenter of several cultures as African Americans, Italians, Irish, Greeks and Jews clashed which would sometimes resort in violence, this also made each ethnic group very guarded of their individual neighborhoods.  Each group did not like their borders crossed, this led to some early street gang activity as far back as the 19th century.  When borders were not crossed, and each respected the ethnic districts the cultures were able to live in harmony.

The Near West Side was one of the first gang banging neighborhoods in Chicago, in fact, the Near West Side was one of the only gang infested neighborhoods from the 1860s through the 1940s.  Before the 1950s, gangs were only found in blighted and impoverished communities in the city and the Near West Side was one of them with very rich gang history from the 1860s to the 2000s decade.  Although the gangs of the 19th century and early 20th century would establish no permanence, they became the inspiration for the later gangs we know today.

In the 1900s-decade African American families began to migrate into the Maxwell Street Market area from the southern states.  This was the beginning of the first significant African American migration to this community.  These southern blacks soon found work at the Maxwell Street Market as some opened vendor stands while others played Blues and Jazz at the market giving the market its legendary musical performances that became a staple for generations for the market.

Jewish landlords felt empathy for impoverished southern blacks and provided them low-cost tenancy when the rest of city shunned migrating blacks away.  These buildings were in horrid condition and were far below substandard living but for many struggling African American families it was the best they could obtain and there were often more employment opportunities here on the west side than in the south side black belt.  It was a bittersweet situation for impoverished black families as they were relieved to have a place called home by seemingly sympathetic landlords, on the other hand, many of these landlords were also greedy and cheap allowing these tenants to suffer in squalid conditions.

In the same decade of the 1900s, middle class African Americans were able to settle in the area bounded by Kinzie Street on the north, Washington Boulevard on the south, Jefferson Street on the east and Western Avenue on the west which encompassed almost the whole north side of the community.  Middle class African Americans made inroads here as black families had amassed substantial wealth from generations of hard work in this area of the city.  The Near West Side then became one of the first communities for wealthier African Americans to come together when most other neighborhoods did not allow African Americans in their communities.

Beginning in 1916, during the first major African American migration wave, several more African Americans arrived on the north side of this neighborhood and in the Maxwell Street Market area as many white families experienced upward mobility and left the neighborhood.  Jews especially experienced this upward mobility as the only claim they left in this neighborhood was property they owned for the purpose of renting.  Many Jews took on the role of landlords along Halsted Street as these buildings crumbled worse than ever.  On the north side of the community African Americans lived among whites in this middle-class area making this one of the most racially mixed communities until the 1960s.

In the year 1919 the notorious “Forty-Two Gang” formed on Taylor Street in the Little Italy section that comprised of teenage Italian youths that protected the borders of Little Italy from other ethnic groups, many of these youths went on the assimilate into the Chicago Outfit when they grew into their twenties.  This is the point in time when gangs on these streets would become more significant in this community.

Another ethnic group came to this neighborhood beginning in the year 1917, the Mexican immigrants.  With the start of World War I many young white men went to serve their country in the war, this opened up several manufacturing jobs in Chicago.  Thousands of Mexican men immigrated to Chicago seeking these vacant jobs and the majority settled in the Near West Side in between west of Greek town, along Taylor Street in Little Italy and east of the African Americans.  Mexican men were only there to work, and they even lived in the shabbiest and most deteriorated dwellings; therefore, there was not much envy toward this group especially since their standards for employment and living conditions were much lower than the rest of the neighborhood.  When the Great Depression Era began in late October of 1929 the neighborhood was suddenly jealous of the Mexican immigrants’ employment and now those low-rate jobs were looking awfully attractive to the other racial and ethnic groups in the neighborhood, and this brought about hate and animosity.

As the year 1930 ushered in the United States government enacted the Repatriation Act that gave the government unlimited jurisdiction to deport any Hispanics with no due process that migrated into Chicago.  Thousands of Mexican people were deported out of Chicago during these hard times all the way up until 1936.  Once repatriation was over, a small cluster of Puerto Rican immigrants arrived in the neighborhood that still housed the remaining Mexicans right near Madison Street.  The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans that remained formed political groups and labor groups to prevent this type of treatment from happening in the future.

African American migration began to pick up in this neighborhood in the 1930s and many found a life of poverty once they arrived, the African Americans were in the largest state of poverty and suffered the worst living conditions and employment opportunities.  The Jane Addams Hull House did not cater to African Americans initially which did not help them achieve the education and networking they sorely needed, then to add insult to injury the very first Chicago Housing Authority project building built in this neighborhood, the Jane Addams Homes in 1938 was a project building only for poor Jews and Italians when it opened.  African Americans were in the most desperate need of public housing; however, the three project complexes that were built in Chicago in 1938 were only for whites; however, roughly 2.5% of the Jane Addams was populated with African American families, which probably meant there was still room after all the poor whites got what they needed which allowed African Americans to take up the rest of the vacancies.

In order to understand how severe, the blight and tenements where I will touch upon how these buildings generally looked.  I have provided many photographs on this page for visual purposes.  Some of the common issues with these tenements are as follows:

  • Lack of toilets. Many tenements had no toilets for each apartment.  Residents shared toilets in a common room, many times that toilet was only a hole in the ground that residents had to squat down to use.
  • Dangerous light fixtures. The electricity was wired improperly and unsafely in a mess of intertwined cords that ran along walls, floors, and ceiling.  These were an extreme fire hazard and dangerous for children to play nearby.
  • Unsafe windows. Windows were often cracked, broken, or sealed off causing a fire hazard or leaky windows that brought water damage, mold and cold air.  Residents either lacked fresh air from sealed windows or they dealt with mold and terrible drafts.
  • Excessive crowding. Large families were given one- or two-bedroom dwellings causing many families to sleep on dirty floors.  Sometimes multiple families shared one dwelling.  Many dwellings lacked walls and privacy and some tenements used makeshift walls to divide apartments allowing each apartment to hear everything the neighboring apartment was doing.
  • Uneven and dangerous foundations. Many of these buildings sat unevenly which brought great risks of collapse and structural damage.
  • Lack of plumbing. In many buildings tenants had to obtain water, bathe, or go to the bathroom at an external site on the property.
  • These buildings were absolutely infested with vermin, anything from rats and mice to insects.

These are just some of the squalid conditions of these tenements and by the 1930s more investigations were underway making a case for public housing that would be built over many of these tenements.

As World War II first started and the United States became involved, more African American migration poured into the city as the Great Depression era was ending and more manufacturing jobs opened up, especially once the U.S. entered the war in 1942 right after the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941.  The Near West Side neighborhood was the only entire west side neighborhood that allowed African American because restrictive covenants prevented them from going elsewhere on the west side.  Not only were African Americans coming in high volumes, but as of 1942 Mexican immigrants were once again flooding into Chicago and once again, they arrived in the Near West Side community right where they originally settled just west of Greek Town and Little Italy, and once again they were in Chicago to work.

In the early 1940s, African Americans migrated more into the Maxwell Street Market section right near the sight of the original Maxwell Street Market as the last Jewish residents packed up and left.  The old Maxwell Street Market area was now a black community by the end of the 1940s and many youth gangs in the areas just to the west were very unhappy with this, sparking gang fights in the 1940s.

By the 1940s most of the wealthy had left the area making the Near West Side into a largely working class and lower income class community.

In the year 1942 another public housing project was built right near the Jane Addams homes called the Robert Brooks Homes that was named after a recently killed African American soldier that was killed in the Philippians by the Japanese.  This project was for African American residents unlike the Jane Addams Homes. Many impoverished African American families were lining up to get in, to help the demand, an extension was built in 1943.

When the war was over there was much protest for Mexican immigrants to leave the country now that the war effort was no longer needed, but repatriation was not brought back into effect this time and the Mexican immigrants did not want to leave the Near West Side.  Even though the rest of the country was enjoying much better employment opportunities after the war, Chicago lagged for a while due to having been so heavily vested in the war industry now there were not enough jobs to go around catering to the growing city, and once again whites felt they should have employment priority.  This led to hate and animosity and as Mexican and Puerto Rican labor groups struggled to defend “Braceros” that wanted to stay in the U.S.

In the later 1940s more Puerto Rican immigrants began showing up in this neighborhood to join the few that arrived in the later 30s.  The Puerto Ricans settled among the Mexicans near Madison Street in a settlement known as “La Madison.”

African Americans had moved into the Jewish Ghetto in a mostly smooth transition because most of the Jewish community empathized with the plights African Americans faced with social injustices.  The nearby Italians and the Irish were far less empathetic as the African American population grew by the later 1940s.  One of the prized parks in the area was Stanford Park which had gardens, playgrounds, a swimming pool and even baseball diamonds.  This was a park fought over for generations as Jews, Italians and Irish fought each other for their rights to use the park.  The Italians and Irish thought they were the most entitled to the park and both ethnic groups targeted the Jews causing the Jews to fist fight just to use the pool.  By the late 1940s, African Americans were using the park the most as Maxwell Street Market area was transforming into more of a black community.  Stanford Park became the epicenter of African American activities and get togethers and this caused many whites to snarl about it.  Soon racial clashing was happening in higher-than-normal volumes in and around the park.  This caused social athletic clubs to convert into street gangs as they fought over the park and the nearby Maxwell Street Market area Streets.

Another social issue this community faced in the later 40s was the beginning of highway construction on what would become the Dan Ryan Expressway, Kennedy Expressway, and the Circle Interchange.  In the year 1948 the city sectioned off parts of the Near West Side for demolition to clear the way for the construction of the superhighway system.  This was brought about by the 1947 Illinois Blighted Areas Redevelopment Act of 1947.  This would replace blighted areas with highways and other newer buildings.  In 1948 several residential and commercial buildings were targeted near Halsted Street and Congress Street.  Residents were given notice in these areas to leave at once as their homes would be no more.  This heavily effected the black community because most of the African Americans in this neighborhood lived along the Halsted and Congress corridors.  This process relocated many families into parts of the neighborhood that didn’t fit their ethnic identity, and this brought tensions.  Many other residents not effected directly by the construction left voluntarily because they did not like how the neighborhood was changing.  In the year 1949 the wrecking ball arrived and knocked down several blighted buildings clearing a path for this construction; however, the actual building of the new expressway system was put on hold until the mid-50s.

Another project building was constructed for African Americans known as the Loomis Courts that were built in 1951 within the same cluster as the Jane Addams and Robert Brooks Homes.

Then in 1952 the Grace Abbott Homes were also built in the same cluster that became known as the “ALBA Homes” that was in the vicinity of Cabrini Street on the north, 15th Street on the south, Blue Island Avenue on the east and Ashland Avenue on the west.  By this point in time the Jane Addams Homes were also becoming African American as the white families experienced upward mobility and moved out.

Since the 1940s African American youths were part of small gangs and social clubs.  Many African American youths were attracted to baseball, and many were involved with baseball teams.  As African American migration increased in the 1940s more African American youth clubs and sports teams formed.  These teams and clubs often clashed with each other and many times group fist fights happened.  Sometimes these groups fought with white clubs but they mainly fought other African American groups.  Beginning in 1951, larger groups of African American clubs and baseball teams began to appear and many times youths that did not play in the sports or normal activities the club represented could now claim membership.  These youths attached to these groups were just there to socialize, party or throw down in fist fights the groups were involved in.  This gave rise to many African American youth clubs feeling strength in numbers as competition for which club could dominate prevailed. Examples of these dominant clubs were the Clovers, Imperial Chaplains, Braves and Van Dykes.  The Clovers and Chaplains were the most popular and had the largest followings.  These groups would now begin to morph into street gangs between 1951-1954.

In the year 1954, the Illinois Blighted Areas Redevelopment Act took more of a toll on this community as more blighted buildings were targeted for demolition.  This is also when the city began work on the Circle Interchange by starting with more evictions and demolition of buildings in the area.  These new construction projects pushed more people into neighborhoods around the city that found these groups to be foreign causing culture shocks.  Many Near West Side residents now moved to other parts of the Near West Side causing their culture to clash with the new areas they moved to.  It was during this era that it became possible the Taylor Dukes and Egyptian Cobras first formed.  I am not certain these gangs go this far back in time but one thing for certain was that larger African American youth groups had now fully evolved into street gangs and began engaging in more violent gangbanging on these streets.  Clovers and Chaplains as examples became large gangs fighting each other over dominance of the Halsted Street area.

It is very possible the Taylor Street Dukes started in this fateful 1954 year to protect Taylor Street from African American gangs.  It is possible and legend has it, that the Egyptian Cobras started in 1954 to fight against dominating African American gangs and Italian gangs along Taylor Street.   It is  possible the “Skulls” street gang started that was a Hispanic gang fighting against Taylor Street Italian gangs and African American gangs, this group would later found the Latin Kings.  I cannot totally confirm these gangs formed in 1954 but I can confirm all these groups were on these streets by 1958.

“The Village” was now completely built by 1955 which was the ABLA public housing projects consisting of Grace Abbott Homes, Jane Addams Homes, Loomis Courts and Robert Brooks Homes.

The Henry Horner Homes that were built in 1957-1961 in the nearby United Center neighborhood and the Rockwell Gardens were built just west of the Henry Horners in 1958-1959.  This was another installment of public housing in the community.  In the areas around the projects racial tensions were low and these projects were great places to live in these ages.  At first the projects of the Near West Side were a success.

The racial clashing happened on the streets further from the projects as tensions brewed mainly between blacks and whites.  Assaults, rapes, murders, beatings became more regular by the year 1958 as the highway construction finally began pushing more people into new neighborhoods city-wide.  This brought new families to the Near West Side and once again moved Near West Side residents into ethnic areas they didn’t fit in.  Many more gangs formed that fought along racial and territorial lines as now the neighborhood appeared to have more perceived “undesirables.”  This was not just a racial/cultural issue some of the newly arrived were often very poor or from what was perceived as a “seedy” element.  Entire racial battles and brawls were fought over the crossing of bridges or being in certain areas at certain hours.

White flight became increasingly intense in the late 50s as African Americans and Hispanics continued to move into the area to replace rapidly departing whites.  Now Little Italy had a significant Mexican population as Mexican and Puerto Rican street gangs became more common.  Most of these gangs that formed on these streets would not establish permanence, but some were significant like the Artistics that would eventually move out of the area and combine with the Kents gang in Marshall Square to create the notorious Stone Kents.  Skulls would go on to found the Latin Kings in 1964.  The Satan Disciples also formed a branch in Little Italy in 1960 that would survive for a few decades.  Taylor Street Dukes and other Taylor Street Italian gangs began to retire in the 1960s making way for the Taylor Jousters that formed in 1960 as the predecessors of the Dukes.  The Dukes approved and authorized the Jousters and even gave them their colors later in the decade.  The Jousters represented the changing ethnicity of Little Italy as it evolved from Italian to more Mexican as the decade unfolded.

The Harrison Gents were put together in 1959 that were a result of Puerto Rican and black youths being tormented by white and black gangs around Harrison and Western.  The Jousters and Gents became the two more notorious gangs in the neighborhood by 1960.

In the year 1960, the notorious Vice Lords moved onto these streets and became a major force to be reckoned with.  This was a black gang from North Lawndale that aimed to dominate all of Chicago and the Near West Side was their first stomping ground outside of their original neighborhood.  The Vice Lords mostly targeted other black gangs as they violently pushed Imperial Chaplains, Clovers, and Egyptian Cobras in this neighborhood out. The Vice Lords invaded the projects and took over much of the ABLA projects and began to dominate Henry Horner.  The Maplewood Courts projects were built in 1961 and Vice Lords moved into that project as well.

In the early 1960s the city began kicking around the idea of moving the University of Illinois at Chicago campus from Navy Pier to the Near West Side.  This idea was heavily supported and thought of by Mayor Richard J. Daley.  Because of the highway construction and the blighted urban renewal programs this neighborhood became ideal for the new university location.  Much protest from mostly African American and Hispanic groups became common place in the early 60s as residents protested this university heavily.  Even street gangs like Vice Lords, Roman Saints and Egyptian Cobras participated in the protest holding up picket signs.  This construction would heavily devastate the African American community living in the Maxwell Street Market area and the Little Italy area.  This displacement mostly effected low-income families.

Despite the protests, the city, the mayor, and private developers won the battle for this new campus site and in 1963 the site was approved for the new University of Illinois at Chicago Campus.  Evictions were handed out immediately in the Little Italy, Maxwell Street Market area and in the Medical District.  Many street gangs were forced to migrate into white communities outside of the Near West Side causing a massive racial and gang clash. This forced eviction is almost completely responsible for the formation of the Latin Kings as gangs like the Markings and Skulls went on to found the Latin Kings in Humboldt Park, West Town and Little Village.  More of the work would extend to the Halsted Street corridor that would displace Hispanic and more African American families the most. Most of Little Italy would now become “University Village.”  This project effectively removed the entire residential area in Greektown pushing almost all the Greek population out of the neighborhood.  Once the construction of the university took off in the mid-60s the Little Italy area experienced larger amounts of white flight as the Italian community now felt this was not home anymore.  As they left, African American families took their place. African Americans had become the majority in the neighborhood. As of 1960 African Americans were 53% of the Near West Side but now by 1970 the African American population was 72%.

The building of the new campus itself was not the only issue for residents of this community, there was also off campus housing that was constructed in the later decade as many developers became interested in this land to join in on the profit sharing. Big business rode on the coat tails of these urban blight programs giving them utmost authority to zone out areas for demolition to replace the areas with buildings and living quarters for UIC students.  This caused more migration out of the neighborhood that now impacted the Hispanic community more.  Alongside this migration street gangs moved with migration now causing social issues in other neighborhoods.

In the year 1968, the Near West Side would experience another dominating gang as the notorious south side group the Supreme Gangsters moved into the neighborhood especially in the Henry Horner projects.  This gang very quickly dominated these buildings and clashed with Vice Lords.  The Supreme Gangsters would eventually evolve into the Gangster Disciples we know today.

By the early 1970s Little Italy had changed completely falling into the same fate as Greektown as the Little Italy area was now just a commercial area for Italian businesses while Italians had moved away as African Americans replaced them.  Even Hispanics began to find the area less desirable as groups like Harrison Gents and Taylor Jousters moved to other neighborhoods.

During the 1960s and 1970s decades the public housing projects were not crime free, gang free or drug free but these elements did not dominate these projects.  Grass roots groups controlled by African American women in the community were the dominating force.  These projects were safe and well-maintained areas.  It was not until the early 1980s when gangs became increasingly interested in using these buildings for intense drug trafficking and executing violent gang wars.

In the year 1981, an agreement was made between the Royal Family group and the Black Gangster Disciples (formerly known as Supreme Gangsters) for the ABLA projects to be taken over by the Black Gangsters street gangs.  This was in direct conflict with the Traveling Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords who had been in these buildings since the 60s.  Black Gangsters became very popular and pushed a massive drug trade in these projects.  The Black Gangsters were also ruthless and violent toward those that stood in their path.  This was made possible because the city stopped maintaining these projects and left them neglected.  Many grass roots members moved out because of the deterioration and were replaced by dysfunctional new tenants which was a gateway for gangs and crime.

Around the same exact time the Henry Horner projects fell into misery as deterioration and neglect set in causing more positive residents to leave.  Black Gangster Disciples, Gangster Stones, Four Corner Hustlers, Renegade Vice Lords, Imperial Insane Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords now took over these buildings and pushed a major drug trade.  These projects would now fall into extreme misery with heavy blight and high crime.  These now became some of the most dangerous projects in the world.

The Rockwell Gardens fell into misery as well during this period as Black Gangster Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers, Black Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Renegade Vice Lords, and Traveling Vice Lords took over these buildings.  During the 1980s these projects tried policing methods to stop the crime, but these programs only brought scandal.

Maplewood Courts tried policing methods too in the 80s and 90s that also brought scandal.  These buildings were conquered by the Four Corner Hustlers and became a dangerous area.

The streets all around the neighborhood and near the projects became heavily blighted with destroyed buildings and deteriorated and dangerous apartment complexes full of crime and transients.  The transient population of the Near West Side was very high as seedy hotels and cheap seedy bars catered to the homeless and impoverished population.  Trash lined the streets and prostitutes walked the streets.  Drug dealers stood on several corners and gang wars on the streets between Vice Lord factions and Black Gangsters (later known as New Breeds) waged.  The Near West Side became known for extremely cheap and dilapidated hotels that costed mere coins to rent.  This encouraged vagrancy and criminal activity in these walls.  When driving through the area you could swear you were driving through an area like Berlin after the World War II bombings.  A simple trip to a Bulls game or to visit a friend or relative at UIC campus became a scary experience for the naïve suburbanite.  Many suburbanites without street smarts would lock their car doors when coming to a Bulls game and made haste to escape on the expressways when the game was over.

In the mid-1990s the city finally reached the point where they could no longer endure this neighborhood in this condition.  Not only that there was so much money to be made by the city and corporations as this property was now depreciated and cheap to purchase and rehab and so began the tear downs and pushing gangs and crime into other areas of the city and suburbs.  Beginning in the mid-90s the Henry Horners, Rockwells and Maplewoods began to be torn down.  At the same time blighted buildings began to come down which were immediately replaced by swanky buildings.

As the 2000s progressed more projects would some down until the work was done at decade end.  During this period drug sales reached record highs in the projects as did levels of violence as gangs were moved from one building to another.  This spawned new violent groups of Vice Lords that warred with other factions that were created for the sake of profit.  The Breeds walked the streets at night serving drugs to the new upper class customer base as the neighborhood began to reshape with swanky office buildings, trendy restaurants and high-income condos and apartments.  Most of the ABLAs were torn down and there was even a spooky period where the Jane Addams projects sat eerily vacant beginning in 2002 until the city finally tore them down years later.  All the high rises were demolished in ALBA and only a portion of the low rises remained mainly in Robert Brooks.

When the projects were torn down it took away all or most of the Gangster Disciple, Black Disciple, Traveling Vice Lord, Conservative Vice Lord, Renegade Vice Lord, Gangster Stone, Four Corner Hustler and Imperial Insane Vice Lord influence in this neighborhood.

In the 2010s the Near West Side became completely unrecognizable as gentrification ran its full course making this one of the more expensive Chicago communities to live in.  Some lower income families remained in renovated projects and government subsidized apartments and condos but most of the poverty is now long gone.  The Breeds still walk these streets in large numbers but often stay out of the spotlight so they can continue to make their money.

The Near West Side once again became a highly diverse cultural melting pot with the difference now is the fact that it is a mixed-race neighborhood of upper classes living in brand new condos and town homes.  Brand new businesses opened and a whole new nightlife and restaurant life sprouted up.  The neighborhood has dramatically changed in the 21st century and UIC students are now safe to walk the streets.  This area may not be the gangster neighborhood it once was but it is the motherland of the Ambrose, Taylor Jousters, New Breeds and the Harrison Gents.

Before the 1950s I do not know what gangs dominated this neighborhood but by the 1950s the Taylor Dukes seemed to be the biggest dominating group.  They for sure ran Little Italy.

In the 1960s Taylor Jousters, Vice Lords, Harrison Gents and later Supreme Gangsters ran this neighborhood.

In the 1970s Black Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, and Gangster Stones ran these streets.

In the 1980s Black Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, Gangster Stones, and Black Gangsters (New Breeds) ran these streets.

In the 1990s and 2000s Black Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, Gangster Stones, Black Disciples and New Breeds (Black Gangsters) ran these streets.

In the 2010s and later New Breeds are the largest gang as Black Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers and Traveling Vice Lords also are dominating.

Here is a list of significant gangs that have walked these streets over time:

Morgan Deuces Established 1959-1964

Morgan & Taylor Established 1959-1964

14th Street Clovers 1951-1960

14th & Halsted 1951-1960

Ambrose Established 1958-1959

Taylor & Halsted Established 1958-1959

Harrison Gents Established 1959-1980s

Damen to Western, Harrison to Flournoy (Headquarters) Established 1959-1980s

Ashland Vikings 1981-1994

Sections of Harrison Gents

Kinzie to Lake, Damen to Loomis 1981-1994

Gaylords Established 1954-1964 as different Gaylord group not part of AGLN

Taylor & Halsted (Not AGLN) Established 1954-1964

Polk & Miller (Not AGLN) Established 1954-1964

Taylor & Ashland (Not AGLN) Established 1954-1964

Black Souls

Rockwell Gardens projects

Latin Kings Established as Skulls 1954-1970s

Laflin & Van Buren Established as Skulls 1954-1963

Newberry & Roosevelt Established as Skulls 1954-1970s

Madison & Paulina Established 1954-1963 as Skulls

Gangster Stones Established late 60s-2000s

150 North Hermitage Avenue building (Henry Horner projects, Lake and Hermitage, the Fortress) Established late 60s-2000s

1625 West Washington Boulevard (Ashland and Washington)

Four Corner Hustlers

Lake to Washington, Wolcott to Hermitage (Wood Block)

Jackson to Van Buren, Maplewood to Campbell, Van Buren & Maplewood (former Maplewood Courts projects)

Madison to Jackson, Campbell to Rockwell, Van Buren & Artesian (Rockwell Gardens projects)

Lake & Wood (Henry Horner projects, The Hornets, shared with Conservative Vice Lords and Renegade Vice Lords)

Fulton & Hoyne (Henry Horner projects, Balla City)

Black Disciples

Adams to Jackson, Leavitt to Damen (Damen Courts apartments)

Madison & Rockwell (Rockwell Gardens projects)

Satan Disciples Established 1960-1990s

Taylor Street from Campbell to Washtenaw

Taylor & Racine Established 1960

Taylor & Oakley

Gangster Disciples Established 1968-2010

Grenshaw & Western Ave

Madison & Winchester (Henry Horner projects, Mobb Building) Established 1968 as Supreme Gangsters-2010 as GDs

Washington & Wolcott (Henry Horner projects, Dubb Gs) Established 1968 as Supreme Gangsters-2010 as GDs

Western & Van Buren (340 S. Western Ave Rockwell Gardens projects) 1968-2006

Maniac Latin Disciples

Taylor & Oakley

New Breeds Established by 1969-present years

Roosevelt to 15th, Ashland to Racine (ABLA housing projects, The Village, Robert Brooks row houses, Loomis Courts and Grace Abbott Homes) Established by 1969-present years

Filmore to Roosevelt, Ashland to Loomis (Circle Park Apartments)

Grenshaw to Blue Island, Ashland to Morgan (Death Valley, D-Block, Barbara Jean Wright Apartments)

Artistics Established 1960-1966

Polk to Roosevelt, Loomis to Ashland Established as Artistics 1960-1966

Taylor Jousters Established 1960-1985

Dan Ryan Expressway to Roosevelt, Western to Canal Street Established 1960-1985

Taylor & Campbell

Taylor Dukes Established 1954-1980s

Taylor Street from Throop to Loomis Established 1954-1980s

Conservative Vice Lords Established 1960-2010

Lake & Wood (Henry Horner projects, The Hornets, shared with Four Corner Hustlers) Established 1960-2010

Madison & Rockwell (Rockwell Gardens projects, shared with Four Corner Hustlers and Renegade Vice Lords) Established 1960-2006

Jackson & Campbell (Rockwell Gardens projects, shared with Four Corner Hustlers and Renegade Vice Lords) Established 1960-2006

Maniac Traveling Vice Lords 90s-2000s

Rockwell Gardens projects 90s-2000s

Outlaw Lunatic Traveling Vice Lords 90s-2000s

Rockwell Gardens projects 90s-2000s

Renegade Vice Lords

Campbell & Jackson, Monroe & Adams, 117 and 2450 buildings Rockwell Gardens projects (Shared with CVL and Four Corner Hustlers)

Lake and Wood (Henry Horner projects, the Hornets)

Traveling Vice Lords

Jackson to Van Buren, Western to Oakley (St. Stephens)

Madison to Jackson, Rockwell to Campbell partially in East Garfield Park

Lexington & Campbell

Jackson & Campbell (Rockwell Gardens projects, shared with Conservative Vice Lords, Renegade Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers)

Madison & Rockwell (Rockwell Gardens projects, shared with Conservative Vice Lords, Renegade Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers)

Imperial Insane Vice Lords

Henry Horner projects

Imperial Chaplains Established 1951-1960

Halsted & Maxwell Established 1951-1960

Latin Counts 60s

Arthington & Blue Island 60s

Taylor Majestics Established 1965-1970s

Somewhere on Taylor Street 1965-1970s

Egyptian Cobras Established 1954-1960

Halsted & Maxwell