|Location||Ogden Avenue on the north, railroad tracked along 33rd Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east, railroad tracks on the west; Little Village: Ogden Avenue on the north, railroad tracked along 33rd Street on the south, Kedzie Avenue on the east, railroad tracks on the west; Marshall Square: Ogden Avenue on the North up to Douglas Park, railroad tracked along 33rd Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east, Kedzie Avenue on the west|
This area was first settled in 1827 as the largest part of the Lawndale-Crawford settlement; from there many farms were built in the area.
In the year 1863 the expansion of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroads caused Lawndale and Crawford to become separate communities with Lawndale on the north and this area became Crawford. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 many German, Irish, Dutch and Scottish immigrants fled to this area to start a new life far outside from the woes of the inner city.
In 1873 McCormick Reaper Works built their brand new facility in South Lawndale right after the fire of 1871 and this made the area even more attractive to immigrants looking for housing near employment. The area was annexed in 1889 during the major annexation plan of 1889 and the area was renamed “South Lawndale.”
The area remained mostly farmland until the 1900s decade when Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works was built in nearby Cicero and the Sears Roebuck tower was constructed in neighboring North Lawndale. Now new subdivisions were laid out while Czechoslovakians began moving in large numbers to the community as Irish, Dutch and Scottish began moving out.
In the 1940s decade the Czechs were joined by a large influx of Polish immigrants that were lured in by the many manufacturing jobs in the area and now Germans, Czechs and Polish dominated the area.
In the year 1942 the Chicago Housing Authority built the Lawndale Gardens public housing project in order to house impoverished white residents that were employed to help with the war effort but too poor to afford housing. These projects were built between 25th and 26th Streets and between California Avenue and Washtenaw Avenue.
In the early 1950s a smaller influx of African Americans moved into the neighborhood especially in the Lawndale Gardens projects which sparked some outrage in the community. The youths reacted by bringing in outside gangs to the streets of the Little Village section. In the year 1950 the Outlaws Motorcycle Club came to Little Village at the intersection of 25th Street and Rockwell. The Gay Lords greaser gang opened up a faction close by at 24th and Whipple in 1952. Both clubs were concerned about African Americans moving in but their attention soon turned more toward each other as they fought vicious gang brawls, one of those brawls made the newspaper in March of 1954. The Gay lords eventually dominated a very large area from about 21st Street to 26th Street and also in Harrison High School by the late 1950s. The Outlaws MC did not claim territory they just roamed wherever they pleased and did not care about any Gay Lord turf which caused more animosity.
In the year 1958 Mexican families were displaced from the Near West Side neighborhood as they moved into South Lawndale and the Lower West Side neighborhoods. Mexican families mainly settled near 26th Street when they first arrived. Mexican youths were soon met by hostile white gangs like the Outlaws and Gay Lords which forced them to start neighborhood gangs for protection or to join the Mexican Kings street gang that formed in 1953 for Latino youths.
In the year 1964 the Mexican Kings assimilated into forming the Latin Kings with three other gangs from other neighborhoods and the Latin Kings organization landed on 26th Street and began aggressively recruiting the Mexican youths as they moved into the neighborhood, they also began selling Heroin along the 26th Street corridor which conflicted with the Mexican Mafia’s interest in the drug trade on this major street.
In 1964 a drug lord with ties to the Mexican Mafia named Alfonso Ayala recruited a baseball team in the neighborhood called the “Twenty Sixth Street Boys” to attack Latin Kings that were infringing on his drug business, this gave birth to the “Two Six” street gang that viciously battled the Latin Kings for control of 26th Street, the two gangs became the rulers of Little Village by the latter half of the 1960s and going forward.
The Outlaws MC found higher profile crimes and interests besides fighting with street gangs in the streets while Gaylords moved out of the neighborhood as most of them enlisted to serve in the Vietnam War, they never returned to Little Village after their service and Gaylords went extinct in Little Village by the late 1960s.
Another reason for white flight in the area in the 1960s was the lack of employment as many manufacturing jobs were leaving the area, causing Czechs, Polish and German residents to pack up and head for the suburbs, by the 1970s they were leaving in higher numbers due to the neighborhood changing its identity becoming the “La Villita” or Little Village. The loss of manufacturing jobs only became worse in the 1970s as many Mexicans in the area fell into poverty.
African Americans in the Lawndale Projects were feeling the socioeconomic problems as well, and as we know in areas where socioeconomic problems are rampant, gangs will be rampant as well. In and around the Lawndale Gardens African American gangs like the Black Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and Vice Lords were heavily active. In the rest of Little Village the Two Sixs and Latin Kings were the major force.
In the Marshall Square section the Two Two Boys, Cullerton Deuces and Artistic Stone Kents were the major threat in the area. The Satan Disciples had also invaded the Marshall Square area from nearby Pilsen and North Lawndale.
The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s saw the worst of the gang violence in Little Village and Marshall Square as Latin Kings and Two Six battled for control of the drug trade in this all Latino community and became a major force to be reckoned with. The Little Village section became completely dominated by Latin Kings and Two Sixs, smaller gangs like Villa Lobos and Sin City Boys had difficulties operating on a wide scale in this neighborhood because of the King and Two Six domination.
The drug and gang wars even continue today in South Lawndale as this is one of Chicago’s rougher neighborhoods; however, it is also the hub of the Mexican community. South Lawndale is the official name of this neighborhood not Little Village. Little Village only encompasses the vast majority of the neighborhood.
Marshall Square (Named after James A. Marshall, a dancing school teacher in Chicago in the 1830s) is a section in South Lawndale of its own; however, most Chicagoans just call it Little Village, no one ever says “South Lawndale” but I want to educate everyone on the facts, regardless of preferences. This is also a west side neighborhood not a south side neighborhood like many think, South Lawndale lies within the boundaries of Chicago’s west side.
Zook Published: Updated: