West Pullman
West Pullman

West Pullman

Origins Settled in 1852 and annexed c. 1889
Area Far Southwest Side

115th Street on the north, 123rd Street to Calumet River on the south, South Front Avenue to South Indiana Avenue on the east, South Ashland Avenue to South Halsted Avenue to Carpenter Street on the west

Gangs headquartered Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Black P Stones, Four Corner Hustlers,

This area came to be first settled in 1852 when railroad lines were laid through here as German, Irish, Scandinavian and even New Yorkers came to settle these lands and built a town they called “Calumet Junction,” a short time later it was renamed “Kensington.”  Kensington became well known over the decades due its many saloons for just a small population this gave the nickname “Bumtown” for the community.

In the year 1880 when the Pullman Car Factory opened in the neighboring Pullman neighborhood the two communities connected.

In the 1880s decade the Village Of “Gano” was built up to offer Pullman Car workers a chance to own their own homes and escape the social control of George M. Pullman’s society in next door Pullman.

In the year 1889 Kensington was annexed into the city of Chicago. In the year 1891 new subdivisions were platted and also land was drawn out for several factories to be built in the area, one of the most interesting of these groups was the West Pullman Land Association that geared toward building homes for working class families and several factories for them to work in, while they also built an upper-class subdivision known as “Stewart Ridge” (neighborhood around 121st and Halsted) that was built around 1915. At this time this part of Kensington would become known as “West Pullman.”

By the 1920s West Pullman flourished very well and soon shopping strips, schools and parks were built up in larger numbers.  Italians, Polish, Hungarian and Lithuanians came to settle in West Pullman as there were many jobs offered in the area in factories such as International Harvester West Pullman factory, Whitman & Barnes, Carter White Lead Paint, and various others that provided employment for thousands of workers, and this then attracted Armenian immigrants to settle in the area.

Many people of West Pullman in the 1920s and 1930s wanted to keep their neighborhood pure white and did not want blacks settling in their neighborhood this resulted in a black powder explosive being launched at the home of a recently arrived black family that bought their home at 120th and Stewart in 1933 in the Stewart Ridge subdivision.  The International Harvester factory in West Pullman worked with the community to keep blacks out by putting a ban on hiring blacks at this location until during World War II when the government forced the company to allow black employment during the war effort, it was also during these war years that the people of West Pullman got together with the whites in Riverdale to protest the construction of the Altgeld Gardens public housing project and also the Fernwood projects in Roseland for fears that these projects would help push along black migration nearby faster, the protests did no good and the projects were built for African Americans anyway.

After World War II West Pullman heavily prospered and became even more of a middle-class neighborhood.

In the year 1960, the vacant and restricted land around 115th to 119th, Halsted to Ashland was now at last for sale.  Slow construction into the later 1960s began in this area to form a subdivision known as “Maplewood Park.”  This subdivision had affordable yet comfortable homes and was shaping to be a healthy middle-class neighborhood.  The unique feature about this area of West Pullman was that it was almost exclusively being settled by black middle-class families.  Some white residents of West Pullman were upset with this migration pattern but many other whites in the neighborhood accepted this because these were upstanding black middle-class families trying to be part of a better neighborhood.  By the 1960 census almost no blacks lived in West Pullman but by the end of the decade West Pullman was 17% black according to the 1970 census.

At the end of the 1960s white families began to partake in white flight as the black population grew.  Whites were moving out of Stewart Ridge and the northern part of the neighborhood especially since this part of the neighborhood bordered the Roseland community that had now become majority black by the 1970 census.  Blacks now lived in the southern part of Roseland, and many were impoverished and were attached to street gangs.  This activity in Roseland upset many West Pullman families living in the Stewart Ridge area that was once an elegant upper middle-class area.  Now these homes were often purchased by landlords that converted these buildings into apartment buildings that houses lower income black families.  Nearby Riverdale and Pullman became infiltrated by black street gangs by 1969 and now Black P Stones and Black Gangster Disciples now set foot into the West Pullman streets.  The Stewart Ridge area which is 115th to 121st then Halsted to the tracks became infiltrated by the Black Gangster Disciples or more specifically by the Supreme Gangsters.  The Maplewood Park area was settled by Black Gangster Disciples (Devil’s Disciples) and Black P Stones.  Stones and Disciples were among the black middle-class while Gangsters were among the black middle-class and black lower income classes.  The Stones and Disciple groups arrived to aid the black community to fight back against racial discrimination but ended up mostly focused on warring with each other and partaking in illegal activities like selling drugs etc…

By the earlier 1970s white residents began to leave the area below 121st Street all the way to the southern border of the community as many became upset about black lower income classes moving into the area.  Proud middle-class black families gladly took their place and established a safe community that attempted to separate from the crime and gang activity to the north but soon Disciples and Stones migrated into this area.

In the year 1981, the Black Gangster Disciples were reorganized starting from behind prison walls and the reorganization spread to the streets in 1981.  This reorganization would now separate Disciples from Gangsters and this established the Black Disciples gang and the Black Gangster Disciples gang.  In West Pullman, those that followed Larry Hoover and the Gangsters became Black Gangster Disciples which was a hit among Disciples and Gangsters mainly residing in Stewart Ridge. The Black Gangster Disciples now heavily dominated from 115th to 121st and from Halsted to the far east edge of the neighborhood.  Black Gangster Disciples were also a big hit south of 121st Street all the way to the southern edge of the community.  The Black Disciple following was a hit in Maplewood Park.  Halsted Street was often the divider between Disciples, Gangsters and Stones.  This brought much gang violence onto the main commercial strip on Halsted Street.

At some point in the 1970s the Black Gangster Lynchmen arrived in Cooper Park.  This was a group allied with the Supreme Gangsters even though the Lynchmen was west of Halsted Street.

In the latter half of the 1970s the once flourishing Halsted Street corridor now became a site of blighted and abandoned buildings as white flight now devasted the area financially.  To make matters worse several layoffs at nearby factories in the late 70s caused white flight to run its final course and many black middle-class families even began fleeing from the blight and crime.  Property values were decreasing which was a concern for homeowners which allowed more lower income classes to reside in Maplewood Park and south of 121st Street.  By the 1980 census West Pullman was 90% black.  In the early 1980s the rest of the white population left the neighborhood.  The Stewart Ridge area began to suffer the worst urban blight as more of these homes were converted into apartments often ran by seedy slum lords.  Many of these homes fell into very severe deterioration left abandoned for decades at times.  to add insult to injury, predatory lenders victimized impoverished black families bringing more despair to the neighborhood.  This community became heavily redlined and disinvested in by the 1980s which led to more poverty and high crime forming West Pullman to become one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago as drug and gang wars became legendary.  During the split the Lynchmen chose to absorb into the Black Gangster Disciples as a faction which made Cooper Park now ran by Black Gangster Disciples even though they were west of Halsted Street.

As if things could not get any worse the closed down factories emitted fumes and run off leftover industrial waste that poisoned the residents in this community as much of the area was classified as a brownfield which is an area heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals, one of the worst being chemicals from the old paint factories. This factor of course would decrease the value of the neighborhood and cause further disinvestment in the community, this toxic runoff mainly effected the northeast side of the community east of Halsted Street in the Stewart Ridge area.

In recent years much of the toxic waste has been cleaned up.  The gang wars and drug wars have continued in this community as it experiences a high rate of unemployment, poverty, violence, and drugs.  This neighborhood became a part of the “Wild 100s” which is a nickname for far south side neighborhoods between 100th Street and 130th Street that experience heavy gang activity and violence.

West Pullman is one of the more violent neighborhoods in Chicago; however, most of the crime is concentrated in the highly impoverished and run-down northeast side in the Stewart Ridge area East of Halsted and north of 121st.  Stewart Ridge has several dilapidated houses and buildings that have been shuttered for decades especially after the Sherwin Williams factory closed and the pollution poisoned this section of West Pullman.  Most gang activity and violence happens in this section of the community because housing is really cheap due to disinvestment and more deteriorated property options making this a highly impoverished area where heavy drug trafficking comes about because of desperate economic conditions.  This area of West Pullman is one of the most blighted areas in Chicago but should not account for the entire West Pullman community.

The area west of Halsted Street and the area south of 121st Street tends to have lower crime and is a black middle-class area, as boarded up houses are hard to find and many residents watch out for the neighborhood and keep their area clean, these are more parts of West Pullman than Stewart Ridge; however, many Stewart Ridge residents due strive to maintain their area.

Since about 1969 West Pullman has been dominated by Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and Black P Stones.

These are the significant gangs that have walked these streets over time:

Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters 70s-present years

115th to 118th, Ashland to Racine (Coopville) 70s-present years

Black P Stones Established 1969-present years

113th & Carpenter

113th & Morgan

115th & Halsted

117th & Laflin

122nd & Carpenter

128th & Lowe

Four Corner Hustlers

124th & Halsted

Green from 120th to 123rd (Green Guys)

Black Disciples Established 1969-present years

123rd to 125th, Halsted to Wallace (Triggatown Hoollies)

119th to 121st, Perry to State (Buff City)

112th to 115th, Loomis to Aberdeen (Ada Park)

116th & Union (Rag Town)

118th & Peoria (Rag Town)

119th & Lafayette

117th & Princeton

Lowe from 123rd to 126th

122nd & Union

Union from 125th to 126th

116th & Emerald

Mickey Cobras

116th & Perry

124th & State

Gangster Disciples Established 1969-present years

116th & Justine

119th & Michigan

119th & Princeton

118th & Union (Rag Town)

119th & Halsted

120th & Green

122nd & Lowe

118th to 120th, Halsted to Union (Rag Town)

116th to 117th, Stewart to Princeton (Wildside BMG)

118th to 120th, Princeton to Wentworth (11-9 Hellabandz MBMG)

118th to 120th, Michigan to Calumet (MBAM)

122nd to 124th, Racine to Carpenter (EJ World) partially in suburb of Blue Island

122nd to 123rd, Peoria to Halsted (Pacoland Kellz City)

116th to 119th, Morgan to Peoria (NGC Rag Town)

119th & Wallace (Low Life City)

119th & Normal (Low Life City)

121st to 127th, Wallace to Princeton (Sack Town)

121st & Eggleston

123rd & Wallace

125th & Normal

126th & Princeton

127th & Eggleston

115th to 118th, Racine to Ashland (Cooper Park, Coopeville, Lynchmen Sercaun Gangsters)

Conservative Vice Lords

117th & Normal


All images below are of vacant buildings at the time of the photo.  All images are courtesy of Google Maps.