See the animated display of the growth of Chicago's Black ghetto from 1910-2000.



The 1919 Race Riot and Gangs. The Inside Story.

The Official Coronor's Report from the 1919 Race Riots.

What is the Chicago Gang History Project?

An outline of the history of Chicago's gangs


Back to:
Gang Research On-Line

Read Euseni Perkins' Explosion of Chicago's Black Street Gangs from Third World Press


Chicago's Untold Story


“The distinctive thing about the Black Belt is that while other ‘colonies’ tend to break up with the passage of time, the Negro area becomes increasingly more concentrated.”

St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton. Black Metropolis page 174

The ghetto is at the center of understanding gangs in Chicago today. While most cities have gangs, Chicago has had an broken history of gangs for more than a century. Why? These pages explain how the violent history of segregation in Chicago was directed by the city's political machine and aided and abetted by white gangs. Gangs, though often formed as spontaneous peer groups, were also tightly organized by white politicans.

Further, the ghetto gave to black gangs a distinctive, dual character. Black Chicago gangs were always defensive of racist attacks on the African American community. At the same, the lack of legal opportunities and the tight control of the Black Belt by the machine, kept gangs closely tied to illegal economic ventures, especially policy (gambling). These machine-sponsored illegal ventures were the foundation for the subsequent control by black gangs of the drug business.

The role of White
Gangs in the Ghetto



Index of Maps
of the Ghetto


Literary Notes on
Black Gangs and the Ghetto