Noble Square (West Town)
Noble Square (West Town)

Noble Square (West Town)

Area West Side

Division Street on the north, Chicago Avenue on the south, Dan Ryan Expressway on the east, Ashland Avenue on the west.

Gangs founded Ashland Vikings, Harrison Gents, Playboys, Ventures, Pulaski Park, Rice Boys,
Gangs headquartered Ashland Vikings, Harrison Gents, Gangster Disciples,

Early history on Noble Square is hard to find; however, I can say that this neighborhood was originally settled by at least Germans by 1865 as they built the neighborhood’s oldest churches.  Eventually, I believe in the early 20th century, this neighborhood was settled by Polish immigrants, and this became a Polish dominated neighborhood.  Unlike neighboring East Village Noble Square was not home to nearly as many impoverished Polish families.

During the 1950s Noble Square experienced scattered settlement of Puerto Rican migration; however, it was not enough migration for the neighborhood to react negatively as early Puerto Ricans blended in with the Polish community.  During this time this neighborhood had small greaser gangs as all of West Town was experiencing a surge of white greaser gangs.

In the year 1958, the Gaylords formed just over the Noble Square border in the southern West Town area.  The C-Notes formed in the same year and same neighborhood.  The Playboys formed in nearby Wicker Park that same year and all these gangs victimized groups of youths attending Wells High School.  These groups were dominating and often picked on kids that gathered in groups.  Gaylords loved to hang out in Eckhart Park which was just over the border in Noble Square which brought them into conflict with more youths from Noble Square.  A group of German, Polish and Irish youths had enough of these groups and formed the Pulaski Park gang in 1960 that fought all these dominating greaser gangs from other neighborhoods.  Pulaski Park was named after the very park they started in.  The youths also gathered at Blackhawk and Bosworth.  Pulaski Park would become the first significant gang to walk these streets.

In the year 1962, Puerto Rican migration intensified all over West Town and this is when Puerto Rican gangs formed to fight against attacking gangs of white youths that were angered at the Puerto Rican migration wave.  There were concerns this Polish community would turn Hispanic and Pulaski Park was out to push out groups they considered undesirables.  This is when the Skulls, a Puerto Rican gang formed in Eckhart Park.  The main reason for the formation of the Skulls was not Pulaski Park but instead it was the Gaylords that aimed to keep Puerto Rican kids out of Eckhart Park.

The Skulls were a tough group of Puerto Ricans but not tough enough to take on the Gaylords, so they moved out of the area in 1964 to become one of the pivotal groups that formed the Latin Kings in 1964 in Wicker Park.  Latin Kings would not settle in Noble Square though.

After or during the Skull’s departure in 1964 another mostly Puerto Rican gang the Harrison Gents migrated to this neighborhood from the Near West Side and settled on Ashland Ave which is the divider between East Village and Noble Square, however, Harrison Gent territory ended up encompassing streets on both sides of the border, thus, making the Harrison Gents a Noble Square gang too.  The Harrison Gents fought heavily with Pulaski Park on these Noble Square streets.

In the year 1967, the Ashland Vikings, another Puerto Rican gang formed along the Ashland Avenue corridor right near the Harrison Gents.  The two groups became allies battling Pulaski Park together.  The Ashland Vikings also settled both sides of Ashland making them a Noble Square gang too.

By the 1970s Noble Square became a rather rough neighborhood as Ashland Vikings and Harrison Gents continued to battle Pulaski Park all decade long.  During this time period Noble Square became one of the tougher neighborhoods in Chicago.

In the year 1980, Pulaski Park closed their operations taking the PVP alliance off these streets.  The neighborhood was now run by Harrison Gents and Ashland Vikings.  Later in the decade Milwaukee Kings and Latin Jivers settled these streets as the Latin Jivers established a major territory here growing their numbers at about the same size as Vikings and Gents.  All four gangs were attached to the Folk alliance and mainly battled gangs from outside the neighborhood like Latin Kings.  These four Folk alliance gangs had some conflict with each other but there were no long-standing wars…at least not in the 80s.

In the 1990s the Harrison Gents went to war in 1995 with the Ashland Vikings.  Milwaukee Kings was also at war with Harrison Gents before that and were now bickering with Ashland Vikings.  Now these streets became more violent as the neighborhood experienced the most violent decade.

In the 1990s the Noble Square Cooperative Apartments located at Milwaukee and Noble now experienced a small wave of black migration as these apartments were now affordable for lower income black families from the south side and west side of Chicago.  Alongside this migration wave came Conservative Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples.  These two gangs are enemies but because they saw potential for making money from drug trafficking in this complex that was located at a busy intersection, they decided to become allies as “Gangster Lords.”

At some point the Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords came to the neighborhood among a small wave of African Americans that migrated here.  The Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords in Noble Square were unique because they merged with each other to create the “Gangster Lords” at the intersection of Division and Noble for the purposes of making money.  I do not know if the Gangster Lords conflicted with the Hispanic gangs in the area or any other groups nearby, I only know this was a money-making group focused on profit.

The Hispanic population of Noble Square would grow since the 1960s, but I am not sure how large the Hispanic population became but it surely began to shrink in the 2000s when this neighborhood began intensive gentrification that weakened the strength of the neighborhood gangs.

By the 2010s the Latin Jivers, Milwaukee Kings and Conservative Vice Lords had left this neighborhood leaving Gangster Disciples to run the Cooperative and some elements of the Harrison Gents and Ashland Vikings remained on the streets.  Since the 2010s gang activity has been suppressed and minimal as gentrification has taken over and this is now one of the more expensive neighborhoods to live in.  Hipsters and Yuppies have found this place to be home making this neighborhood very much changed since the past decades.

In the 1960s and 1970s Noble Square was dominated by Harrison Gents, Ashland Vikings and Pulaski Park (PVP)

In the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s Noble Square was dominated by Harrison Gents, Ashland Vikings and Latin Jivers

In the 2010s and later Noble Square is not dominated by any gangs, but Harrison Gents, Ashland Vikings and Gangster Disciples still lurk in this neighborhood.

Noble Square is the birthplace of the Ashland Vikings and Pulaski Park

If you are from the Young Urban Professional class, you might be interested to know these significant gangs once walked these streets over time:

Harrison Gents Established 1964-present years

Cortez to Walton, Ashland to Noble Established 1964-present years

Ashland Vikings Established 1967-present years

Ashland to Noble, Augusta to Chicago Ave (The Fist of the North) Established 1967-present years

Latin Jivers 80s, 90s, 2000s

Blackhawk to Potomac, Ashland to Noble (Brown Jungle, Blackhawk Park, Killa Side, Pistol Park) 80s, 90s, 2000s

Division & Greenview 80s, 90s, 2000s

Playboys Ventures Pulaski Park Established as Pulaski Park 1960-1980

Blackhawk & Bosworth Established as Pulaski Park Established 1960-1980 (PVP)

Cleaver & Potomac (Pulaski Park) Established as Pulaski Park 1960-1980 (PVP)

Skulls Established 1962-1964

Chicago Ave & Noble (Eckhart Park)

Gangster Disciples 90s-present years

Milwaukee to Division & Noble (Noble Square GDs) 90s-present years

Milwaukee Kings 80s, 90s, 2000s

Chestnut & Noble (Eckhart Park) 80s, 90s, 2000s

Conservative Vice Lords 90s, 2000s

Milwaukee to Division & Noble (Gangster Lords, shared with Gangster Disciples)

Spanish Cobras Established 1980-1990s

Lemoyne from Bosworth to Ashland 1980-1990s