North Center
North Center

North Center

Origins Settled by John Kinzie and William B. Ogden c. 1845 and annexed in 1889
Area North Side

Montrose Avenue on the north, Diversey Parkway on the South, Ravenswood Avenue on the east, Chicago River on the west

Gangs founded Insane Deuces,
Gangs headquartered Insane Deuces, Latin Kings,

This area was first settled in the 1840s by John M. Kinzie and William B. Ogden who both tried to set up subdivisions for settlers to move into the area; however, their attempts failed.  It was not until they sold land to John Turner in the 1870s that scattered settlement began as Turner rented land to German immigrant truck farmers.

In the year 1880 the Deering Harvester Works opened on Fullerton Avenue and brought many new jobs for German and Swedish immigrants.  More immigrants moved to the area once even more jobs could be filled working at brickyards and clay pits close to the river.  Workers eventually took up residence in this area calling it “Bricktown.”

Later into the 20th century more and more immigrants settled the area of Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Slovak, Serbian and Croatian descent.  In the year 1937 the Chicago Housing Authority built the very first public housing development known as the Julia C. Lathrop Homes that was also partially dipped into the Lincoln Park neighborhood (Diversey Parkway is the dividing point).  This housing development was put in place to house the city’s poorer residents, mainly white residents at first.  The projects were located from Clybourn Ave to Damen Ave, Leavitt Street to the Chicago River.

In the 1950s-decade white greaser gangs became active on these streets which was the beginning of gang activity; however, it was not significant.

In the late 1960s the Lathrop projects were no longer just for whites as Puerto Rican migrants and African Americans began to take up residence in these buildings.  These projects were dominated by a gang called the Barons since the 50s.

In the year 1971, the Insane Deuces formed in the Lathrop projects and took over all the projects as the Barons moved away.  Some of the reasons for the Deuces being put together was harassment from neighborhood bigger gangs like Paulina Barry Community and Simon City Royals.  The Deuces became very popular and spread to Hamlin Park in no time and soon became the biggest gang in North Center.  When Hamlin Park opened it made more conflict with the Paulina Barry Community as their borders were now close to touching.  I am not exactly sure when Paulina Barry Community spread their territory from Lake View to North Center, but I believe it happened at the time the Deuces formed.  When the Simon City Royals opened up their Bell Schoolyard chapter in 1972 conflicts worsened.

As the 1970s progressed the Gaylords and Latin Kings arrived in this community as Latin Kings became tight with Insane Deuces.  The Deuces then invited the Latin Kings to settle in the Lincoln Park part of the projects south of Diversey, but Latin Kings would also open other sections in North Center like Berwyn and Hoyne.  Gaylords were arch enemies with Simon City Royals and Latin Kings.  Gaylords also did not get along with PBCs and Deuces.

I am not too positive if there was a racial war in this community in the 1970s, but I do not believe so.  Perhaps the Gaylords and maybe the Royals were against Hispanic migration but PBCs, Latin Kings and Deuces were mixed race while the Royals were often mixed race in some areas too.  Most of the Royals were located in Lake View and would not be as concerned with a racial change in North Center; therefore, I believe this conflict was all about dominance.

North Center now became a tough neighborhood to grow up in during the 1970s and 1980s years as gangs were very much in operation and violently fighting their wars.

During the 1970s and 1980s there was very high crime in the Lathrop projects that was often legendary as many gangs came into attack Deuces and Kings but both gangs fought off invaders year after year.  When crack cocaine came to Chicago streets in the late 80s Latin Kings and Deuces began peddling this drug in high volumes in the projects until they began to dispute with each other over profits, this led to a violent gang war in 1989 between the two.

In the year 1992, the Insane Deuces switched alliances from People to Folk and moved out of the projects.  The Paulina Barry Community was aligned with the Folks but could not accept the Deuces being on the same side but PBCs were declining in numbers by this time.  When all the families of the Deuces moved out it made way for more African American families to move into these buildings and alongside those families came the Black P Stones and Conservative Vice Lords.  These groups became the newest installments in the North Center neighborhood.  The Deuces remained as a very strong presence in Hamlin Park and continued their wars with PBCs and Latin Kings.  The Deuces never made peace with Simon City Royals either, but the Royals were declining in the Lake View neighborhood and even their Bell School Yard chapter closed in the 90s.

In the 2000s-decade gang activity really cooled down as the North Center neighborhood became very attractive to Yuppies who paid top dollar for residence here.  Soon new restaurants and other swanky businesses opened making this neighborhood unaffordable for the gang population as they moved out.  By this time there was mainly just some activity from the Hamlin Park Deuces and Latin Kings and other than that it was mainly in the projects until the projects closed in 2011 moving out the gangs that occupied those buildings.  In the 2010s and later gang activity is very minimal as this is one of the safer neighborhoods and more expensive neighborhoods in Chicago.

North Center is the birthplace of the Insane Deuces.

In the 1970s and 1980s this neighborhood was dominated by Insane Deuces, Latin Kings and the Paulina Barry Community.

In the 1990s and later this neighborhood has been dominated by Insane Deuces and Latin Kings

In the 2000s and later this neighborhood was still dominated by Insane Deuces and Latin Kings; however, gang activity has been minimal especially after the projects closed in 2011.

For many of you among the young urban professional class you might be interested to know these gangs once walked your streets over time:

Flip City Kings Established 1984-2000s

Western & Waveland (Waveland Bowling Alley) Established 1984-2000s as Flip City Kings

Black P Stones Established 1992-2011

Diversey & Hoyne (Lathrop Projects shared with Latin Kings and Conservative Vice Lords) Established 1992-2011


Leavitt & Berteau

Cullom & Campbell

Berteau & Milwaukee

Simon City Royals Established 1972-1990s

Waveland & Oakley (Bell School Yard) Established 1972-1990s

Latin Kings

Berwyn & Hoyne (Area 51)

Berwyn & Wolcott

Roscoe & Hoyne

Diversey Parkway & Hoyne and Leavitt (Lathrop Projects, Project Kings) Established 1975-2011

Insane Deuces Established 1971-present years

Roscoe to George, Honore to Campbell (Hamlin Park) Established 1971-present years

Clybourn to Leavitt to Diversey (Lathrop projects) Established 1971-1992

Maniac Latin Disciples 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s

Cuyler & Leavitt (JC, John Coonley School) 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s

Paulina Barry Community 70s, 80s, 90s

School to Diversey, Ravenswood to Damen 70s, 80s, 90s

Spanish Lords

Berteau & Damen

Conservative Vice Lords Established 1992-2011

Diversey & Clybourn (Lathrop projects) Established 1992-2011