Chicago Gang History

Lincoln Park

NameLincoln Park
LocationDiversey Parkway on the north, North Avenue on the south, Lake Michigan on the east and the Chicago River on the west
Settled1823
FounderArchibald Clybourne
Year annexed1889

 

Lincoln Park was first settled in 1823 by Archibald Clybourne as he built a slaughterhouse on the present day Elston Avenue.  There was also a military post built there right around the same time that branched from the nearby Fort Dearborn.  Yes, Clybourne Avenue was named after Archibald Clybourne.

In the year 1837 plots of land were sold and many more houses were built in the area turning this into a community that mostly comprised of German immigrants.  The “City Cemetery” and also a small pox hospital were built that same year. 

The land was basically an area of misery in the early days until the 1850s when wealthy elites complained about the pollution and overcrowded grave sites.  It was an unattractive and nasty area; therefore, in 1863 the cemetery was removed and made way for a public area. The area was named “Lake Park,” then in 1865 it was renamed “Lincoln Park” named immediately after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 damaged the majority of the Lincoln Park area and rebuilding happened after this.  Part of the rebuild was the creation of the Lincoln Park Zoo that opened in 1874. 

In the year 1889 Lincoln Park was officially annexed into the City Of Chicago. After the fire Lincoln Park experienced the migration of Polish, Romanian, Italian, Hungarian and Slovak working class residents that settled along the west side of Lincoln Park which gave the neighborhood a working class element. 

In the 1930s the working class element of Lincoln Park became downtrodden by the Great Depression era and homes and apartment buildings began to be neglected for repairs and renewal.  The area would continue to see some deterioration in west Lincoln Park through the 1940s and 1950s. 

In the year 1958 when construction caused urban displacement in the Near West Side neighborhood, scores of Puerto Rican migrants moved into the west side of Lincoln Park.  The more deteriorated homes and apartments made for cheaper rent which was great for the poorer Puerto Rican migrants, but as soon as they arrived they were met with animosity and hate from those that wanted the area to remain an all-white neighborhood, this led to the formation of one of the earlier Puerto Rican street gangs the “Young Lords.” 

In the year 1960 Lincoln Park began urban renewal programs that geared at removing the newly arrived Puerto Rican people out of west Lincoln Park.  Movements tried to prevent this forced migration from happening in the earlier 1960s but by 1964 the majority of Puerto Ricans were forced out and the Young Lords street gang spread elsewhere. 

In the 1970s Lincoln Park experienced the arrival of some violent street gangs such as the Simon City Royals and the Insane Unknowns.  The Insane Unknowns settled mainly at Ashland and Wrightwood while the Royals settled at Fullerton and Southport.  By 1976 the two gangs engaged in a vicious gang war that caused a major disruption in the neighborhood that carried on well through the 1990s.  The end of this gang war was brought about by urban renewal of west Lincoln Park and the arrival of many high class yuppies that bought out all the old property for renewal. 

Lincoln Park is on this list because it is the motherland of the Young Lords and was a major site of Simon City Royals and Insane Unknowns.  The neighborhood had its gangster days on the west side of this community, and the notorious Julia C. Lathrop projects lie partially within the borders of Lincoln Park at the intersection of Clybourne, Damen and Diversey which became the site of more gang problems with the Insane Deuces and Latin Kings street gangs.  Currently gang activity is extremely minimal to non-existent in this neighborhood.

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