Chicago Gang History

North Center

NameNorth Center
LocationMontrose Avenue on the north, Diversey Parkway on the South, Ravenswood Avenue on the east, Chicago River on the west
Settled1840s
FounderJohn Kinzie, William B. Ogden
Year annexed1889

This area was first settled in the 1840s by John M. Kinzie and William B. Ogden who both tried to set up subdivisions for settlers to move into the area; however, their attempts failed.  It was not until they sold land to John Turner in the 1870s that scattered settlement began as Turner rented land to German immigrant truck farmers.  In the year 1880 the Deering Harvester Works opened on Fullerton Avenue and brought many new jobs for German and Swedish immigrants.  More immigrants moved to the area once even more jobs could be filled working at brickyards and clay pits close to the river.  Workers eventually took up residence in this area calling it “Bricktown.”  Later into the 20th century more and more immigrants settled the area of Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Slovak, Serbian and Croatian descent.  In the year 1937 the Chicago Housing Authority built the very first public housing development known as the Julia C. Lathrop Homes that was also partially dipped into the Lincoln Park neighborhood (Diversey Parkway is the dividing point).  This housing development was put in place to house the city’s poorer residents, mainly white residents at first.  The projects were located from Clybourn Ave to Damen Ave, Leavitt Street to the Chicago River.  In the late 1960s the Lathrop projects were no longer just for whites as Puerto Rican migrants and African Americans began to take up residence in these buildings.  By 1970 the projects became conquered immediately by a newly formed gang called the “Insane Deuces.”  One of the reasons for the Deuces forming was to prevent any other gangs from making the projects theirs.  Other gangs would develop in the projects especially the Latin Kings, but Kings and Deuces were allies.  Both gangs worked together to keep other organizations out of the projects that posed a threat, one of their big enemies was the “Paulina Barry Community.”  The area mainly became rough because gangs that lived around the projects continuously invaded the area starting gang fights and shootings.  Several migrant street gangs took up residence all around North Center especially by the projects.  The Insane Deuces spread their influence into other parts of North Center such as Hamlin Park to combat invading gangs.  The Insane Deuces set up a complex drug operation in North Center by the 1980s that operated successfully in the projects.  By the early 1990s the drug trade resulted in a gang war between Latin Kings and Insane Deuces.  African American Gangs like the Gangsters Disciples, Vice Lords and Black P Stones began claiming some of the projects that intensified gang wars even more.  In the 21st century North Center went through urban renewal as yuppies began buying and renting property for higher dollar amounts.  New restaurants and other attractive businesses were put into the neighborhood to further up the value, gang problems slowed way down heading into the new century.  The Lathrop projects were mostly closed in 2002.  North Center is the birthplace of the Insane Deuces and Paulina Barry Community.

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