City StoriesIllinois

Chicago East Side

East Side Chicago

From State to the Lake, is the saying that defines the boundaries of Chicago’s East Side where the neighborhoods stretch from 55th Street (Garfield) to 95th Street and from State Street to Lake Michigan.

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Chicago East Side History

As the neighborhood of Bronzeville, Chicago’s original African-American community, was not able to house the majority of Chicago’s black population many African-Americans began move into the white communities of the East Side.

The first community African-Americans moved into was the nearby neighborhood of Washington Park.

East Side Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood of today.

With the expanding black community into different neighborhoods of the Chicago East Side, white immigrants grew envious of the newly black population.

People were claiming that African-Americans were taking many of the job opportunities as well slowly moving into the other Chicago East Side communities other than the Black Belt (the Low End’s Bronzeville community).

The tensions between African-Americans and Irish-Americans led to the 1919 Race Riots, with hundreds of people being injured or killed over a ten day period.

After the riots, the Washington Park area became an extension to the Bronzeville community during the 1930s as the neighborhood slowly became predominantly black.

By this time, different sections of East Side Chicago began to be built as people were moving away from the black families that were moving out of the Bronzeville community.

Starting in the 1940s and 1950s, African-Americans of Chicago moved further south into the Woodlawn area.

By the 1960s and 1970s, most of the East Side Chicago communities became predominantly African-American, expanding as far as 95th Street.

east side chicago

Middle class community of East Side Chicago

While many of the “Out East” neighborhoods of the Chicago East Side are considered to be the Chicago ghetto or the ‘hood, the East Side does have many middle-class black communities.

The South Shore area that is between Jeffery and Yates, many sections of Chatham, and most of Avalon Park and Calumet Heights are all middle-class communities.

Most of these neighborhoods had blacks living in them for generations, especially the ones that were able to afford housing outside of Bronzeville, Washington Park, and Woodlawn.

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‘Hoods & Communities

Today, the old neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Washington Park, as well as other parts of the Chicago East Side, are becoming more and more dilapidated.

east side chicago ghetto

King Drive of East Side Chicago ‘s Woodlawn

With gentrification in the Low Ends (the old Black Belt and Bronzeville area) and the near location of the upscale community of Hyde Park and the University of Chicago, these areas seem to be destined for a change in the near future.

The gang culture of the Chicago East Side, which started in the 1960s, was the beginning of two of the biggest organizations in the city.

Today’s Woodlawn neighborhood of East Side Chicago.

The Black P. Stones, who begun on 67th Street in Woodlawn as the Blackstone Rangers and the Devil Disciples in Kenwood who later would become the Black Disciples.

east side chicago gangs

The birthplace of the Blackstone Rangers of East Side Chicago.

Into the 80s and 90s, many affiliations took control of the streets of the East Side.

South Shore’s blocks of Terror Town or Paxtown with affiliations of Black P. Stones, 4 Corner Hustlers, and Gangsta Disciples.

Dro City

The numerous of blocks in Washington Park and Woodlawn like Parkway Garden aka O Block and Wic City or Dro City, which is mostly home to Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples.

Other areas include 79th Street from Lakeside to Lon City, 71st Street home to sections like Pocket Town, 75th Street with Sirconn City, 83rd Street from Whiz City to the Triple Bs around S. Exchange, or 87th Street with numerous Black P. Stones blocks, are just a few examples of the streets of the East Side.

Pocket Town of East Side Chicago

Into the 80s and 90s, many affiliations took control of the streets of the East Side.

South Shore’s blocks of Terror Town or Paxtown with affiliations of Black P. Stones, 4 Corner Hustlers, and Disciples.

Parkway Gardens aka Wic City aka O Block

The numerous of blocks in Washington Park and Woodlawn like Parkway Garden aka Wic City or Dro City, which are mostly home to Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples.

Other areas include 79th Street from Lakeside to Lon City, 71st Street home to sections like Pocket Town, 75th Street with Sirconn City, 83rd Street from Whiz City to the Triple Bs around S. Exchange, or 87th Street with a number of Black P. Stones blocks, are just a few examples of the streets of the East Side.

While the official gang culture of Chicago has changed from previous generations, certain areas on the East Side are still some of Chicago’s most active communities.

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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.

Bibliography
Keating, Ann. “Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide” University of Chicago Press. 2008.
“Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago’s Past Neighborhoods”
Holli, Melvin and Jones, Peter. “Ethnic Chicago: A Multicultural Portrait”. Wm. B. Eerdmans. Publishing Co. of Grand Rapids, MI. 1977, 1981, 1984, 1995.