Chicago Gang History

Humboldt Park West Humboldt Park

NameHumboldt Park (West Humboldt Park)
LocationBloomingdale Avenue on the north, railroad tracks just north of Kinzie Street on the south, Humboldt Boulevard wrapping around the park North Avenue to Kedzie Avenue then running into Augusta Boulevard around the park to Sacramento Boulevard then dipping down Grand Avenue and Rockwell all on the east, Kenton Avenue on the west
SettledN/A
FounderN/A
Year annexed1869

 

Not much is known about this piece of land prior to 1869, other than it was a beautiful conservation land that was converted into a park.  There were possibly a few settlers in the years prior to 1869, but the story really starts in that year when it was officially annexed into the city of Chicago as a neighborhood that would offer beautiful landscapes outside the hustle and bustle of the inner city.  The neighborhood was named after naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt in 1869. 

In the 1870s this neighborhood experienced a boom as many houses were built and Norwegian, Danish and Swedish immigrants made their way to reside within these boundaries.  Within a decade or two German immigrants joined the Scandinavians as the population grew.  Industrialization did not come to this community in order to conserve the beauty of the area instead workers commuted to and from work while enjoying the prairie landscapes from their Humboldt Park homes. 

In the 1920s Italian, Russian, Polish and Jewish residents moved into this neighborhood as the Scandinavians moved out and by the 1930s this community was still being enjoyed in the same way by the new migrants as was enjoyed by the Scandinavians. 

In the 1950s white greaser gangs began appearing in West Humboldt Park for possible reasons of opposing black of Latino migration into nearby neighborhoods.  Legend has it that the first gangs the “Simon City Gang” and the “Royals,” came here first in 1952, but then in a few years there were other greaser clubs like the the “Drakers.”

In the year 1964 Puerto Rican migration took off in larger volume in West Humboldt Park and this brought Puerto Rican gangs like Latin Kings and Young Lords from other neighborhoods. Simon City, RoyalsGaylords and several other neighborhood clubs went into direct opposition with the Latin Kings and Young Lords hoping to drive them out but instead the Puerto Rican gangs only grew stronger and major gangs wars erupted in Humboldt Park in the mid-1960s. 

The Latin Kings set up their main base at the intersection of Beach and Spaulding and multiplied quickly from there especially since the Latin Kings were the best force to join to protect the Puerto Rican community. 

As the 1960s would progress the street gangs grew larger and more Puerto Ricans arrived in higher volumes.  In the 1960s the white population mainly consisted of Italians and many did not appreciate how foreign born Puerto Ricans were changing the culture of the community, this all led to a police shooting of a young Puerto Rican male that sparked the Division Street Riots in June of 1966.  The riot extended mostly through West Town and many Puerto Ricans from Humboldt Park participated. 

The white gangs fought their last battles against the Puerto Rican gangs in the first half of the 1970s but by the second half of the decade the white population had almost completely evacuated.  As the white population left the area, the West Humboldt Park community experienced a migration of some African Americans 1970s and black street gangs migrated to the southern and western part of the community, and by the 1980s Vice Lords and Black Gangsters had settled in the community.

Humboldt Park became one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods in the decades to come especially in the 1980s and 1990s when murder rates often scored on the top list year after year.  Humboldt Park is the motherland neighborhood of the Simon City Royals, Insane Unknowns and Latin Pachucos.  It also became the headquarters for the northern Latin Kings.  This area still struggles with heavy gang wars, drug wars and poverty and still remains as one of the hardest neighborhoods in Chicago.  

The dominating gang is the Latin Kings that have dominated the entire north east, north west and south east parts of this neighborhood.  The Conservative Vice Lords heavily dominate the south west area of this community.  There are also pockets of Insane Unknowns, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, YLO Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers, New Breeds and Unknown Vice Lords

Just to clarify, this neighborhood is west of the actual Humboldt Park, the other side of the park is technically West Town.

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