Portage Park
Portage Park

Portage Park

Origins Settled c. 1837 and annexed c. 1889
Area Northwest Side

Gunnison to Central and Gunnison then down Central Ave to Lawrence then across Lawrence to Lawrence and Cicero on the north, Belmont to Belmont and Austin then up Austin to Irving Park and Austin the from Irving Park Road to Irving Park and Narragansett on the south, Train tracks on the east before Hermosa, Narragansett to Irving Park and Narragansett then across Irving Park to Irving Park and Austin then down Austin to Austin and Belmont on the west

Gangs headquartered Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Gangster Disciples, Familia Stones,

The Portage Park name has roots from the earliest history of the neighborhood.  The land was previously used by Native Americans as a American Indian portage because when it rained the area became easily flooded allowing Indians to travel by canoe from Chicago to the Des Plains River. (Fact source, https://www.livingplaces.com/IL/Cook_County/Chicago_City/Portage_Park_Bungalow_Historic_District.html)

In the year 1816, this land was given to the U.S. government following the War of 1812.  In the year 1830 the government now began plans to make the area available for purchase, but this was not laid out until 1837 when the land was finished with surveying.  In the late 1830s settlement began from Swedish, German and English. In 1841 E.B. Sutherland built Sutherland’s Inn which was a tavern for travelers.  The tavern was located at Milwaukee and Belle Plaine Avenue.  The tavern drew in more settlement to the area.  In the year 1845 Sutherland sold the tavern to Chester Dickinson who remained the Inn Dickinson’s Tavern.  This tavern became increasingly popular especially now that is also served as a post office, tavern, and interim town hall.  In the year 1850 when Jefferson Township was officially established the meeting was held at Dickinson’s making the tavern the most popular place in all of Jefferson Township. https://www.livingplaces.com/IL/Cook_County/Chicago_City/Portage_Park_Bungalow_Historic_District.html)

Over the next few decades settlement in this part of Jefferson Township was sparce as the only transportation option was a train.  Larger settlement would not take off until 1889 when this area was annexed and was officially named Portage Park.  This is when better transportation was established, and this rural farmland was divided into subdivisions.  Now Portage Park had Scandinavian, Polish, Italian, Irish and more German and Swedish migrants.  https://www.livingplaces.com/IL/Cook_County/Chicago_City/Portage_Park_Bungalow_Historic_District.html)

This community continued the grow in the early 20th century especially when the development of the Portage Park community park was built in sections throughout the 1910s and 1920s.  On July 4, 1922, fireworks display at the park attracted 40,000 attendees from all over Chicago land.  The development of the community in the 1920s brought more German, Italian, and Polish migrants to the neighborhood.  This was also a decade of commercial development.  This commercial development would increase during the 1930s as many neighborhood renovations were completed.  Portage Park faired mostly well during the Great Depression years.  https://www.livingplaces.com/IL/Cook_County/Chicago_City/Portage_Park_Bungalow_Historic_District.html)

Over the next few decades the population of Portage Park would continue to grow, many of the new arrivals were of Polish decent turning this neighborhood more into a working class Polish neighborhood.  During the 1950s and 1960s this neighborhood became a common home of various greaser gangs making this neighborhood a hot zone for greaser culture.  In the year 1969 the Gaylords found this neighborhood enticing as they formed the legendary Reinberg Gaylords at the intersection of Major and Roscoe.  The Gaylords were in the midst of a major expansion campaign especially in nearby Belmont-Cragin. Much of the reason for Gaylord expansion was to protect these north west side areas from Hispanic migration waves and to keep undesirable gangs out but in Portage Park there were no significant gangs and no signs that Hispanic migration was coming any time soon.  This was a neighborhood that was part of “white wonderland” which is term referring to any neighborhood in the northwest side of Chicago that was safe, gang free, low crime and free of migration of black and Hispanic people.  The main issue gangs like the Gaylords had with larger Hispanic or black migration was they feared disinvestment and the neighborhood changing culturally.  The Gaylords became very popular in this community as they expanded to take all the major parks like Portage Park, Merrimac Park, and Dunham Park.  These were very popular parks, not only for residents of Portage Park but also for visitors and the Gaylords wanted to make sure undesirables were not among the visitors.

In the 1970s more gang activity came to Portage Park as Popes became large in Dickenson Park in 1973, at the time Gaylords and Insane Popes were allies until 1975 when war broke out, this is when the Popes left Dickenson Park.  The United Freaks formed in 1975 in Dunham Park and were allies with the Gaylords.  The United Freaks would only last until 1978 then they left the neighborhood for good.  C-Notes was another group to arrive in Portage Park in the 1970s and they were allies with Gaylords and United Freaks.  The C-Notes left the area once war between Gaylords and C-Notes began in 1982.

At some point in the 1980s the Insane Deuces arrived in Portage Park and set up a legendary section at Milwaukee and Berteau.  The Deuces were allies with Gaylords so there was not much conflict.  As the 80s progressed Hispanic migration slowly come to Portage Park and this brough some racial clashing this made it an opportunity for the Latin Kings to start a section at School and La Vergne which became a legendary section of Latin Kings.  Just like Deuces and Gaylords the Latin Kings were also tied to the People alliance which basically kept Portage Park gangs allied against gangs for neighboring neighborhoods.

The 1990s was perhaps the craziest decade in Portage Park as gang activity swelled to new highs.  This safe and quiet working-class community was suddenly swarmed with new gang activity.  The Gaylords were once the mighty protectors of the Portage Park community, now they were facing legal troubles with the police after about two and a half decades of existence.  With the sudden influx of Hispanic street gangs, the Gaylords got into heavy drama that got many of them incarcerated.  By the mid-1990s the Gaylords mostly left Portage Park as Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Gangster Disciples took over much of old Gaylord turf.  Strangely old haunts the C-Notes and Insane Popes returned in the 1990s, but their presence did not last long.  The Stoned Freaks became the new white gang that aimed to battle migratory Hispanic gangs as the 1990s was their best decade becoming one of the larger gangs in Portage Park.  The Spanish Four Corner Hustlers and Latin Brothers arrived that teamed up against Gaylords, Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Gangster Disciples, and the Stoned Freaks.  The Imperial Gangsters and Two Six would also move to this area.

Although Portage Park did not become one of the more violent neighborhoods in Chicago it still became a rowdy place in the 1990s because of gang activity.

In the 2000s-decade Multiple gangs left the area including the legendary School and La Vergne Latin Kings.  Stoned Freaks, Two Six, Imperial Gangsters and Latin Brothers left the area.  The fight for dominance would continue between Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Gangster Disciples, and Insane Deuces.  The Insane Deuces would especially encounter legal issues with police because Portage Park had low tolerance for gang activity.

In the 2010s decade the Insane Deuces left the area as Familia Stones moved into their old territory.  The Familia Stones would very quickly become a dominant group conflicting heavily with Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Gangster Disciples. Familia Stones also clashed with Insane Deuces as the two gangs battled for Milwaukee and Berteau until Deuces left after facing too many legal issues.

Despite the gang activity in the area Portage Park remains one of the safer neighborhoods in Chicago.  Hispanic migration has continued since the 1990s turning this neighborhood into a Hispanic and Polish neighborhood.  Gaylords would continue to exist in this community up to present years but they would claim no turf but would end up getting into altercations with Familia Stones, Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Gangster Disciples because they consider these groups as undesirables.

In the 1970s Gaylords heavily dominated this neighborhood.

In the 1980s Gaylords were still the dominating force.

In the 1990s Portage Park was dominated by Insane Deuces, Stoned Freaks and Maniac Latin Disciples

In the 2000s Portage Park was dominated by Insane Deuces and Maniac Latin Disciples

In the 2010s and presently Portage Park is dominated by Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Gangster Disciples and Familia Stones.

This is the list of major gangs that have walked these streets over time:

Gaylords Established 1969-present years

Central & Berteau (Portage Park) Established 1982-mid 90s

Irving Park to Addison, Narragansett to Austin (Merrimac Park) Established 1982-mid 90s

Major & Roscoe (Reinberg Gaylords) Established 1969-mid 90s

Leland & Melvina Established 1982-mid 90s

Irving Park Ave & Central Park Ave Established 1982-mid 90s

Lawrence to Montrose, Narragansett to Moody (Dunham Park) Established 1982-mid 90s

Insane Popes (north side group) 70s, 90s

Belle Plaine & Dickenson (Dickenson Park) 1973-1975

Irving Park & Narragansett (Merrimac Park) mid-late 90s

Latin Kings 80s, 90s, 2000s

School & Lavergne 80s, 90s, 2000s

Four Corner Hustlers (Spanish Four Corner Hustlers) 90s-present years

Addison & Cicero (The Row) 90s-present years

Two Six 90s, 2000s

Addison & Major 90s, 2000s

Hell’s Devils Established 1975-1978

Giddings & Melvina (Dunham Park, Hell’s Park) Established 1975-1978

C-Notes 70s, 90s

Lockwood & Hutchinson 90s

Central & Giddings 70s

Wilson & Milwaukee Ave 90s

Insane Deuces 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s

Berteau to Belle Plaine, Milwaukee to Lavergne (Dickinson Park) 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s

Milwaukee & Montrose

Maniac Latin Disciples 90s-present years

Irving Park to Byron, Marmora to Central 90s-present years

Warwick to Patterson, Marmora to Menard 90s-present years

Spanish Gangster Disciples

Addison to Cornelia, Lockwood to Leclaire

Stoned Freaks 90s, 2000s

Irving Park Road & Central Ave 90s, 2000s

Lamon & Cullom 90s

Montrose & Cicero

Imperial Gangsters 90s

Leland & Major 90s

Latin Brothers 90s, 2000s

Berteau & Central Ave 90s, 2000s

Simon City Royals 2010s-present years

Addison & Knox 2010s-present years

Familia Stones Early 2010s-present years

Milwaukee to Cicero, Cullom to Berteau Early 2010s-present years