Humboldt Park (West Humboldt Park)

Origins Annexed in 1869
Area West Side
Boundaries

Bloomingdale Avenue on the north, railroad tracks just north of Kinzie Street on the south, Humboldt Boulevard wrapping around the park North Avenue to Kedzie Avenue then running into Augusta Boulevard around the park to Sacramento Boulevard then dipping down Grand Avenue and Rockwell all on the east, Kenton Avenue on the west

Gangs founded Latin Pachucos, Imperial Gangsters,
Gangs headquartered Insane Unknowns, Latin Kings, Vice Lords,

Not much is known about this piece of land prior to 1869, other than it was a beautiful conservation land that was converted into a park.  There were possibly a few settlers in the years prior to 1869, but the story really starts in that year when it was officially annexed into the city of Chicago as a neighborhood that would offer beautiful landscapes outside the hustle and bustle of the inner city.  The neighborhood was named after naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt in 1869.

In the 1870s this neighborhood experienced a boom as many houses were built and Norwegian, Danish and Swedish immigrants made their way to reside within these boundaries.  Within a decade or two German immigrants joined the Scandinavians as the population grew.  Industrialization did not come to this community in order to conserve the beauty of the area instead workers commuted to and from work while enjoying the prairie landscapes from their Humboldt Park homes.

In the 1920s Italian, Russian, Polish and Jewish residents moved into this neighborhood as the Scandinavians moved out and by the 1930s this community was still being enjoyed in the same way by the new migrants as was enjoyed by the Scandinavians.

In the 1950s white greaser gangs began appearing in West Humboldt Park for possible reasons of opposing black of Hispanic migration into nearby neighborhoods.  Legend has it that the first gangs the “Simon City Gang” and the “Royals,” came here first in 1952, but then in a few years there were other greaser clubs like the the “Drakers.”

In the later 1950s Puerto Rican migration increased into this community which caused further resentment and violent acts from groups of greasers and other groups.  One of the first Puerto Rican gangs to occupy this community were the Imperials in 1959 that settled at the intersection of Beach and Spaulding.  The Imperials taught young Puerto Rican youths to stand up against the violence they faced.

In the early 1960s more Puerto Ricans moved into the area and more racial strife grew in the community as the community just would not accept Puerto Rican culture.

In the years 1963 and 1964 Puerto Rican migration accelerated in West Humboldt Park and now the acts of violence against the growing Puerto Rican populace could no longer be ignored by the Imperials.  The Imperials called for a meeting in the park to create the Latin Kings organization which combined multiple Puerto Rican and Mexican gangs into one major force in 1964.  The Latin Kings now made Beach and Spaulding their headquarters and they began growing fast in the neighborhood. Simon City, RoyalsGaylords and several other neighborhood clubs went into direct opposition with the Latin Kings  hoping to drive them out but instead the Puerto Rican gangs only grew stronger and major gangs wars erupted in Humboldt Park in the mid-1960s.  The Spanish Cobras settled this area around this time and went into opposition to Latin Kings and greaser gangs.

In the mid-1960s the Imperial Gangsters started on these streets by Cameron Elementary School and soon opposed Latin Kings and greaser gangs.

As the 1960s would progress the street gangs grew larger and more Puerto Ricans arrived in higher volumes.  In the 1960s the white population mainly consisted of Italians and many did not appreciate how foreign born Puerto Ricans were changing the culture of the community, this all led to a police shooting of a young Puerto Rican male that sparked the Division Street Riots in June of 1966.  The riot extended mostly through West Town and many Puerto Ricans from Humboldt Park participated.

The white gangs fought their last battles against the Puerto Rican gangs in the first half of the 1970s but by the second half of the decade the white population had almost completely evacuated.  The Simon City gang and Royals joined the Simon City Royals from Lakeview and fought legendary battles against Puerto Rican gangs in between 1972 and 1978.  As the rest of the white population left the area in the late 1970s, the West Humboldt Park community experienced a migration of some African Americans into the southern and western part of the community, and by the 1980s Vice Lords and Black Gangsters had settled in the community.

Humboldt Park became one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods in the decades to come especially in the 1980s and 1990s when murder rates often scored on the top list year after year.  Humboldt Park is the motherland neighborhood of the Latin Pachucos, Latin Kings and Imperial Gangsters.  It also became the headquarters for the northern Latin Kings.  This area still struggles with heavy gang wars, drug wars and poverty and still remains as one of the hardest neighborhoods in Chicago.

The dominating gang is the Latin Kings that have dominated the entire north east, north west and south east parts of this neighborhood.  The Conservative Vice Lords heavily dominate the south west area of this community.  There are also pockets of Insane Unknowns, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, YLO Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers, New Breeds and Unknown Vice Lords.

Just to clarify, this neighborhood is west of the actual Humboldt Park, the other side of the park is technically West Town.