City Stories

Chicago West Side

The West Side of Chicago

The story of the West Side Chicago gangs has to begin with the history of the West Side Chicago neighborhoods.

When African-Americans from southern states began to move into the city of Chicago, most lived in the Low Ends’ historic neighborhood of Bronzeville.

Not until the building of housing projects and the expressway demolished and destroyed much of the community.

Due to the destruction, many began to relocate into other parts of the city, with West Side Chicago neighborhoods being one of them.


History of West Side Chicago Gangs

The start of many Chicago gangs was on the West Side with many still being around today.

Many West Side Chicago gangs grew in power and expanded to other sides of Chicago, cities in Illinois, and even in communities in places like Memphis or Jackson, MS.

The West Side Chicago gangs date back to the early days of the West Side Chicago ghetto as most were originally created for protection.

Gangs were started for people to protect themselves and their West Side Chicago neighborhoods from intruders or from people who did not want them in a certain parts of the West Side.

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Pulaski, the heart of North Lawndale.

One of the biggest and largest gangs in the country, the Vice Lords, started on the West Side in the Holy City community of North Lawndale along 14th Street.

Madison Street, which is the heart of the West Side, is known for the start of a few Chicago gangs.

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The heart of the West Side Chicago ghetto, Madison

Gangs like the Black Souls, 4 Corner Hustlers or Vice Lord factions like the Mafia Insane’s all begun around the West Side’s Madison Street.

The New Breeds, a gang that has expanded to the East Side’s Pocket Town community, allegedly started as the Black Gangsters on the West Side.

The New Breeds have been known to occupy the ABLA Homes (Abbott Homes, Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts, Adams Homes) of the West Side, also called the Village.


Change in the West Side Chicago Neighborhoods

During the 1940s and 1950s, many people tried to put black families through many obstacles and went to many measures to keep blacks from coming into the West Side neighborhoods.

Eventually, most of the West Side Chicago neighborhoods became predominantly black as white flight eventually changed the outlook of the West Side neighborhoods.

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Today’s Garfield Park area of West Side Chicago ghetto

What started in the Garfield Park community, expanded into North Lawndale and by the 1970s the black population reached the Austin community.

As stated above, many of Chicago gangs were originally started for protection as young African-Americans were looked at as outsiders moving into a new community.

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West Side Chicago gangs off of Madison.

As job opportunities became limited and various industries had closed, West Side gangs became built more like an organization that the community could benefit from.

Today’s West Side black community seems to be more strictly in the Austin neighborhood.

Austin is a community that is as big and active as the South Side’s Englewood community, especially with various West Side Chicago gangs.

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Neighborhoods around Madison Street and Pulaski have become less populated as the vacancy in properties on the West Side is increasing due to the process of gentrification.

Old housing projects of the West Side Chicago ghetto like the Horner Homes and Rockwell Gardens have been long gone after being demolished years ago.

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Unfortunately, as the black population was increasing on the West Side, the neighborhood was slowly becoming overcrowded and deteriorating, with the lack of public services and help for the proper upkeep.


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Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

*Source for the history of the West Side, but not the source for the West Side gangs:

Seligman, Amanda. “Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side”. University of Chicago Press. 2005.