Chicago Gang History

Fuller Park

NameFuller Park
LocationPershing Road on the north, Garfield Boulevard in the south, EL tracks by La Salle Street on the east, railroad tracks on the west
SettledLate 1860s
FounderN/A
Year annexed1889

 

Fuller Park was first settled by Irish immigrants in the later 1860s after the Union Stock Yards opened on Christmas Day 1865.  This area became a part of the Lake Township area and after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the opening of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad the area flourished into a community. 

In the year 1889 this area was annexed into the city of Chicago because all of Lake Township was annexed that year, then right after the annexation German and Austrian immigrants settled here among the Irish

In the year 1912 Fuller Park was established that provided recreation and the neighborhood was named Fuller Park after Melville W. Fuller a Chicago attorney and Chief Justice.  During World War I the neighborhood experienced migration of Mexican, African American and Slavic workers in the many industries in nearby neighborhoods. 

Irish and German immigrants moved out of the neighborhood completely by the 1920s.  Slavic residents made up 90% of the community going into the 1930s. 

Fuller Park was always a neighborhood that housed Chicago’s working classes and lower income classes; therefore, it never blossomed into a significant community and was always small in size consisting of being a two mile strip of land.  The area remained mostly white all the way through World War II. 

After the war many Slavic families moved out of the neighborhood because they experienced upward mobility and Fuller Park was so poor that almost 25% of residents did not have toilets and had to use an outhouse in their yards which was very disturbing for 1950s standards of living as toilets had now become standard well before 1950. 

The 1950s saw a major spike in African American migration as they found that this neighborhood right near the black belt offered very cheap housing in buildings that were deteriorating. 

In the late 1950s construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway brought about the removal of several African American residents which also removed over 30% of the neighborhood. 

This neighborhood could not catch a break and by the 1960s the area crumbled even more as African American gangs moved onto these streets.  The impoverished black community of Fuller Park heavily relied on employment with the Union Stock Yards in nearby Back of The Yards and by the 1960s the community was hanging on by a thread, that thread snapped in 1971 then the stock yards closed down. 

Residents of Fuller Park had a very tough time finding employment after the closure of the stock yards and the neighborhood became full of drug and gang activity in the 1970s.  Commercial development, renovations and even bank loans for renovating property became non-existent by the 1970s as redlining and disinvestment fully sunk in, the neighborhood then became one of Chicago’s south side slums as gangs like the Black P Stones, Gangster Disciples and Mickey Cobras took over these streets, in the 1980s Vice Lords came to this neighborhood as well.  

Most property in Fuller Park is rented property and the neighborhood also has had the highest rate of single income homes.  Fuller Park has also been rated as one of the most dangerous Chicago neighborhoods many times experiencing a high rate of violent crime.  Minimal urban renewal has come to this community and it still remains of Chicago’s poorest and dangerous neighborhoods.  The Fuller Park neighborhood is a blighted area with several run down and abandoned buildings while many vacant lots and several shuttered homes line the streets of Fuller Park.  Many homes and buildings have stood vacant for several decades but tax revenues are not high enough to justify tearing many of these properties down.

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