City StoriesIllinois

East St Louis

The Short East St Louis Ghetto Story 

Currently, this once famous city within the limits of St. Clair County has become known nationwide as a trouble community as the East St Louis ghetto has created a reputation from East St Louis gangs to East St Louis crime and corruption.

History of East St Louis

Originally, African-Americans moved into East St Louis between the early and mid-1900s for jobs in the railroads, factories and businesses along the river.

Upon their arrival, many African-Americans would experience much racial tension and jealousy that led to one of the country’s worst race riots, during the year of 1917.

The decline and change of East St. Louis, as well the surrounding areas, began after the loss of jobs and the movement of white families into newer communities of Collinsville, Belleville and other suburban neighborhoods of St. Clair and Madison counties.

African-Americans would later begin to expand and move into the nearby towns of Washington Park, Centreville and Alorton, while also residing in the majority of neighborhoods in East St Louis.


Today’s East St Louis

With the loss of the major employers and half of the residents East St. Louis began to fall into state and federal debt, along with the rise in East St Louis crime.

This was followed by corruption within the local police departments and the local government, as East St Louis crime also consisted of the local public officials.

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East St Louis gangs

East St Louis gangs came about as Chicago gangs of the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples were introduced into the city, eventually given the city a reputation of one of the most dangerous places in the country with large amounts of East St Louis crime.

With the lack of opportunities and drugs thriving in the urban communities of St. Clair County, the East St Louis ghetto gained a number of negative labels with East St Louis crime creating labels of the “Murder Capitol” or the “Most Dangerous City”.

As the streets became active, with the rise of East St Louis gangs and the increase of East St Louis crime, many neighborhoods began to build there on reputation.

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The Gomperz.

Reputable ‘hoods of the East St Louis ghetto include the South End and the JDS Projects, the Gomperz, Haymoes (15th and Lynch), Da Hole (Norman Owens Projects), Deuce9 or State Street’s Edgemont and Parkside.

Outside of East St Louis, other communities of St Clair County are in Washington Park, Centreville, Alorton, Brooklyn, Madison and Cahokia.

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Parkfield Terrace, off Camp Jackson between Cahokia and Centreville

These areas of the East St Louis ghetto has ‘hoods like the Veltz (Roosevelt Projects), the Fireworkz Projects (Ernest Smith) or Parkfield Terrace off of Camp Jackson.

Currently, East St. Louis and sections of St. Clair County has become very dilapidated with 18% of the people in St Clair County living in poverty mostly reside in the East St Louis ghetto, Washington Park and Centreville areas.

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Along with poverty, East St Louis crime of the corruption with the local police and politicians has led to state and federal agents to help police the community and also police the local police departments and public officials.

The community and the people of the East St Louis has for long had a reputation as being a part of town that consists of large amount of drugs, violence, corruption and poverty, which seems to be only the way people outside of the community view East St. Louis.


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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.