Chicago Gang History

Morgan Park

NameMorgan Park
Location107th Street to 111th Street on the north, 119th Street on the south, Halsted Street to South Ashland Avenue on the east, South California Avenue to the railroad tracks near Sacramento Avenue to the tracks near Mount Hope Cemetery on the west
Settled1830s
FounderN/A
Year annexed1914

 

This area was first settled in the 1830s by various farmers.  In the early 1840s the southern part of this area had a problem with horse thieves that would ride around and rob people of their horses; this gave the nickname “Horse thief Hollow.” 

In the year 1844 Thomas Morgan was the first to own several acres of land in this area as he owned a cattle and sheep ranch in the area. 

In the year 1869 Blue Island Land and Building Company purchased this property from Thomas Morgan’s family now that Morgan was deceased for the purpose of subdividing the land and making it into a community. 

In the 1870s decade the area began to turn into a community that was desired which consisted of three schools at college level that were built in the 1870s.  The area became heavily settled by the Irish as the 19th century progressed. 

In the year 1882 the community achieved incorporation and became the “Village Of Morgan Park,” named after Thomas Morgan. 

In the 1890s decade French immigrants and African Americans came to Morgan Park and lived in the east side of the neighborhood.  The African Americans were allowed to live in Morgan Park but only under the condition that they lived east of Vincennes Avenue. 

Morgan Park remained a suburb until the year 1914 when unanimous votes came in favor of incorporation into the city of Chicago. 

In the 1920s decade more African Americans came to live on the east side of Morgan Park as long as they abided by the covenant that they must live east of Vincennes, which blacks complied by this demand and they were able to use integrated public areas like the public library for example.  By 1930 35% of Morgan Park was African American and throughout the next few decades black Americans continued to move into the community gradually with more whites as new subdivisions were built. 

The construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway brought an extension onto Interstate 57 that went through Morgan Park just east of Vincennes Avenue that further cut off the black community from the whites. 

In the late 1960s more African Americans came to east Morgan Park but there was not much racial clashing due to the highway separating the two Morgan Park parts. 

In between 1969 and 1974 several section 235 houses were built in Morgan Park by the Chicago Housing Authority which increased the black population more. 

African Americans continued to settle in Morgan Park in the 1970s and 1980s as they moved west of Vincennes Avenue and whites moved out into the suburbs, eventually the white part of Morgan Park was mainly west of Western Avenue now.  Poverty, gangs and drugs eventually made their way into the black community of Morgan Park by the 1970s as it increased in the 1980s and 1990s, gangs like Black P Stones, Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples made their way into this neighborhood which brought gang related violence to this community. 

Several factors like poverty and some disinvestment of the east side led to drugs and gangs having a strong foothold in the mostly eastern half of the community; however, the neighborhood has not fallen into a slum because there are still many middle classes and home owners in the neighborhood including many black middle class families.  Morgan Park is one of the tougher neighborhoods in Chicago and has some issues with violent crime; however, it is not a highly dangerous community.  Many renovations and shopping centers have been put in over the years to keep the value of the neighborhood steady.

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