Chicago Gang History

South Shore

NameSouth Shore
Location67th Street on the north, 79th Street on the south, Lake Michigan on the east, Kenwood Avenue to Kimbark Avenue to South Chicago Avenue on the west
Settled1856
FounderFerdinand Rohn
Year annexed1889

This area was first settled in the year 1856 by German farmer Ferdinand Rohn who built a farm where 71 Street and Lake Michigan meets and used the trails in the area to transport his crops.  In the year 1861 the area was annexed into Hyde Park Township, regardless, there were very few farmers that joined Rohn until after the annexation of the area in 1889.  This area was originally heading toward being multiple different neighborhoods such as “Bryn-Mawr” that developed in the early 1890s, then a little while later “Parkside” developed between 67th Street and 71st Streets, then “Essex” developed between 71st Street and 75th Streets.  The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was a major trigger that sparked development in these areas.  In the 1900s decade longer time white residents of Washington Park fled that neighborhood to become a part of the South Shore neighborhood as they fled from African Americans moving to Washington Park.  The new residents developed the “Jackson Park Highlands” area and built an exclusive country club called the “South Shore Country Club” that did not allow African Americans and Jews.  In the 1920s the area was renamed “South Shore” as Irish, Swedish, German and Jewish families moved into this neighborhood as they flocked from the black migration into Washington Park, many more houses and apartments were constructed to house these families.  South Shore would do well during the Great Depression era of the 1930s and prospered well in the 1940s.  When restrictive covenants were lifted in 1948 African Americans began moving into this neighborhood.  By the 1950s African Americans would continue to slowly move into the community and white residents became concerned the neighborhood would develop the same socioeconomic problems racially changing communities around them were facing, this caused white flight to begin in higher numbers in the 1960s because panic developed after commercial disinvestment started to become rampant; however, this was halted in 1973 when South Shore Bank attempted to bail out of the community heading for the downtown Loop.  The Renewal Effort Service Corporation and the Illinois Housing Development Authority petitioned to not allow the bank to flee the area, the Federal Currency Comptroller listened to the protests and made the bank stay and fall under new management.  The bank then worked with both urban renewal programs to renovate the area and prevent South Shore from declining.  By the 1970s South Shore became majority African American as white flight could not be prevented and by the 1980s the neighborhood was an exclusively African American community.  Problems of crime, drugs and gangs still would move into the South Shore community as the 1980s and 1990s were the most violent decades.  The area of 75th Street to 79th Street and Colfax to Yates became the most violent and impoverished area of South Shore, this area became known as “Terror Town” and was mostly controlled by the Black P Stones and Gangsters Disciples.  Several Strip malls in this area have fallen on hard times since the 1970s and are also the site of where crime happens.  Other gangs moved into this community like the Four Corner Hustlers and Mickey Cobras adding to the gang violence. Despite some of the negative in this community over the years the neighborhood has been the home of many middle class black home owners for decades. In the 21st century the middle class African American population has increased as the neighborhood is seeing more renovations; however, South Shore is still one of the more violent and harder neighborhoods in Chicago.

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