Monday, September 1, 2008

Little Hell

After 1880, the area on the North side bounded by La Salle St., Division St., and the Chicago River became known as "Little Hell" for the pernicious criminality that prospered there. It is said that, in the first 51 days of 1906, the police made over 900 arrests. Every sort of depravity, including brothels, saloons, robbery, cocaine and morphine sales could be found in Little Hell. The North side's first great gangster, Dion O'Banion, was a product of this district.

Since most of the vice districts in Chicago were on the South and West sides of the city, this area was more or less ignored for many years in the city's fight against crime. Today, it is still a notorious ghetto, though only a few blocks removed from the Gold Coast, one of the most concentrated areas of wealth in the world. The Cabrini Green housing projects, which became a symbol for failed public housing nationwide, were built in the 1940s-1960s in Little Hell, and while many of the major high-rises have been demolished during the last 10 years, many of the low-rise projects (including the one pictured above at Crosby and Larrabee) remain. The area is, possibly by force and certainly by city incentives, becoming gentrified, although slowly.

2 comments:

Admin_2 said...

The little Hell Sharks were most likely the last Italian gang to hold down that area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vHhVC-2ScE . There is a link inside the video to the webpage on the Sharks.

lee sullivan dumett. said...

o,bannion was a powerful bootleg boss, but he should not have crossed torrio in the sieben brewery deal.