West Town: Ukrainian Village
West Town: Ukrainian Village

West Town: Ukrainian Village

Area West Side

Division Street on the north, Chicago Avenue on the south, Damen Avenue on the east, Western Avenue on the west.

Gangs founded Chi-West,

This area is bounded by Division Street on the north, Chicago Avenue on the south, Damen Avenue on the east, Western Avenue on the west.

This area was first settled in the 19th century as Germans were the first to settle the area, then by the 1890s Slavic Ukrainians settled the area and soon became the vast majority.  The Ukrainians found the area ideal because they were really close to the Polish of Wicker Park and East Village.  Wicker Park was upper class while East Village was lower class but Ukrainian Village was right in the middle as a middle class community.

The area remained stable economically and the church played a major role in preserving the Eastern European culture the neighborhood offered.  When many other neighborhoods including the swanky Wicker Park began to fall into socioeconomic disarray Ukrainian Village stood strong and did not succumb to change, this kept the value of the neighborhood strong and Puerto Rican migrants could not afford to live in this community, in turn, this also kept Hispanic street gangs from colonizing any of the streets within these borders.  White street gangs that had origins from working class and lower class white families like Simon City Royals and Gaylords also could not afford to move to this area, in turn, they did not set up territory here.

There was only one gang that came to Ukrainian Village and that was “Chi-West” that formed at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Western Avenue in 1958 which was at the far south west corner of the neighborhood.  Chi-West was one tough gang of greasers that started in the late 1950s and continued on through the 1980s.  Socioeconomic reasons are accredited to other gangs and Hispanics not being able to set up territory in the neighborhood, but Chi-West is also accredited for further efforts at keeping other gangs out, they did not even want other gangs wandering through or selling drugs there.  Chi-West also had heavy ties to the Ukrainian Mafia that also operated in this neighborhood.  Chi-West was a farm gang for future Mafia members, one such example was Jack “Jack The Jew” Farmer who was a part of the Ukrainian Mafia outfit known as “Little Mafia” who was featured on the popular television show “America’s Most Wanted” as he was fleeing from authorities because he was facing murder charges.  He was picked up in Florida because of the TV show and convicted of the charges; however, his sentence was not harsh.

In the 21st century Ukrainian Village like the rest of West Town fell victim to gentrification as yuppies then hipsters moved in and raised the value of the neighborhood.  Old timer Eastern Europeans have begun moving out of the area as the neighborhood has almost completely lost its old identity.  The Chi-West gang went completely inactive by the early 1990s.

This neighborhood was the motherland of the Chi-West street gang.