Ukrainian Village (West Town)
Ukrainian Village (West Town)

Ukrainian Village (West Town)

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,
Gangs headquartered 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 income 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 community 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 property values remained intact.  In the 1950s When Puerto Rican migration came to West Town migrants avoided Ukrainian Village because it was not affordable which was the goal many in Ukrainian Village wanted.

I do not know much of greaser gang activity on the streets in the 1950s but there was greaser gang activity in surrounding areas of West Town including the neighboring areas around Ukrainian Village.  By the year 1958 greaser gangs became very popular in West Town which began some of the largest and toughest white gangs like Gaylords, C-Notes and Playboys.  These gangs rivaled each other and would many times appear on these streets looking for trouble.  The Chi-West street gang formed in 1958 with the sullen vow to keep outsiders out of this neighborhood especially Hispanic gangs.

Chi-West was one tough gang of greasers that started in 1958 and continued on through the 1990s.  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 in 1988.  He was picked up in Florida because of the TV show and convicted of the charges; however, his sentence was not harsh.

Chi-West was the main outfit that ran this neighborhood from Damen to Western and from Chicago Ave to Division from 1958 to the mid-1990s nearly successfully keeping all other gangs out of these streets accept a brief settling of  PVPs.  Chi-West battled outsiders often before rivals could cross the borders as Chi-West mainly would dwell at Chicago Ave and Western Ave which is Ukrainian Village’s southwestern most border.

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 mid-1990s but has been recently revived in current years.

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

If you are from the Hipster or young urban professional class you might be interested to know these significant gangs once walked these streets:

Chi-West Established 1958-1995, re-established 2016-present years

Chicago Ave & Western Established 1958-1995

Chicago Ave & Hoyne

Chicago Ave and Damen 90s

Augusta & Leavitt 80s

Augusta & Western

Everywhere else in Ukrainian Village 1958-1995

Playboys Ventures Pulaski Park

Iowa & Hoyne Established as Playboys (PVP)

Winchester & Iowa Established as Ventures (PVP)