Chicago Gang History

Archer Heights

NameArcher Heights
LocationStevenson Expressway on the north, railroad tracks to 53rd Street on the south, railroad tracks on the east heading into the intersection of 47th Street and Archer Avenue, railroad tracks on the west
Settled1835
FounderWilliam B. Archer
Year annexed1889

William B. Archer was the first individual to own land in this area in 1835 as he allowed many temporary settlers mainly of Irish and German decent.  The area was swampy prairie which was not ideal for settlement or farming for the area.  The buildup of railroads and an 1889 annexation to Chicago did not cause much settlement besides a few farmers; it was not until the 1900s decade when Polish immigrants migrated to the area especially after 1906 when public transportation began.  By the 1920s Italian, Lithuanian, Czech and Russian Jews migrated to the area and now the area began to boom.  In the 1930s during the Great Depression era this neighborhood now known as “Archer Heights” named after William B. Archer and the “Heights” subdivision that built up, did not suffer especially after industries like Crawford Industrial District and Kenwood Manufacturing District brought industry to the neighborhood that boomed into the 1940s.  Midway Airport in nearby Garfield Ridge also brought lots of employment to the neighborhood.  In the 1950s decade greaser gangs began popping up in the neighborhood that mainly fought black gangs and groups of African Americans from the nearby Leclaire Courts projects in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, soon the greasers were fighting amount each other.  Gang problems increased in the projects when Vice Lords and Black Gangsters Disciples and moved in which were much more violent gangs.  The South Side Insane Popes started in this community in Archer Park that battled black street gangs by 1974.  In the 1980s a small wave of Mexican migrants moved into the neighborhood and among them came Latino based gangs like Two Six, Latin Kings, Latin Counts and Satan Disciples.  In the 1990s Mexican migration increased and so did Latino based gangs that recruited several white members since the neighborhood was over 90% white; however, that would change in the 1990s as several Mexican families moved in while white residents of Polish descent moved out.  The industries in and around the area were not the same especially the airport had cut back on jobs since 1963, so white families began heading for the suburbs.  The 1990s and 2000s decade saw the heaviest gang activity; however, it never escalated to the point where the neighborhood was considered dangerous.  Archer Heights still has gang activity going into the 21st century but still not to the point of the neighborhood being on lockdown from it; however, there still is a fair amount of violence and crime.  Archer Heights is the birthplace of the South Side Insane Popes.

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