When you think of the neighborhoods in and around Chicago, numerous stereotypes come to mind. There are preppy areas, hipster neighborhoods, college town areas, but also areas that are known for crimes and poverty. Overall, the Chicago land region regularly ranks as one of the best locations in which to live in the United States as a result of world-class culture, a strong economy, excellent academic institutions, walkability, and many famous fine-dining locations. There is a neighborhood to fit everyone’s taste in Chicago.
However, there can be a darker side to Chicago that many hopefully never experience. There are some neighborhoods that are tucked away from the main touristy areas of Chicago that most outside visitors do not get to experience. These are the tougher neighborhoods. While they are unfortunately riddled with crime, many say these neighborhoods are the backbone of Chicago and the reason that the city is what it is today. That being said, it’s still our duty to report which ones are considered the most dangerous by statistical data.
Of Chicago’s 76 neighborhoods, the most dangerous neighborhoods include:
Chatham is located between 79th and 93rd street along route 90/94. Homes in this neighborhood cost less than $150,000 on average and the area has a 14% unemployment rate. With a population of 32,100, it has the 19th worst crime index of all Chicago neighborhoods. This combined with low housing costs, dense population, high unemployment and low median income break Chatham into the top 10.
9. Grand Crossing
Located between E. 67th and E. 79th, close to the lake is Grand Crossing. With a population of 32,000 over a wide area, Grand Crossing did not rank higher due to the lower density of the neighborhood. The crime index is 14th worst while the median income is $31,000.
8. West Garfield Park
Coming in at number eight is West Garfield Park, a neighborhood that is not in South Chicago. At a median income of $26,000, most residents live below the poverty line and crime is much higher here than most other Chicago neighborhoods. In West Garfield Park, you have a 1-in-20 chance of being a crime victim for each year spent within the neighborhood limits. The population is 19,000 and the crime index is 18th worst in the city.
7. Chicago Lawn
As the eighth most dangerous neighborhood, Chicago Lawn has a high population of 54,000 that is crammed into a relatively small space. The crime index is set at the 8th worst and the median income is $36,000. Homes are only valued at $146,000 as a result of the crime but, on the bright side, only 10-percent of residents are unemployed. Although this is double the national average, it is still considered excellent for a south side Chicago neighborhood.
6. Gage Park
Located between 51st and 59th streets is Gage Park. Incomes are higher than all other neighborhoods on this list at $38,000 and the population is at 39,000. The crime index is the 13th worst in the city.
5. Fuller Park
With a low density of 2,800 residents but a crime index of the second worst in Chicago, Fuller Park comes in at number five on this list. The median income is $18,000. Understandably, homes sell for an average of $114,000 each. Fuller Park straddles 90/94 between E. Pershing and W. Garfield with no exits to this small area.
4. Auburn Gresham
As the 11th worst crime index in Chicago, like most other dangerous neighborhoods, Auburn Gresham is also on the south side. With 49,000 residents densely packed into a small area between 75th and 91st streets, crime is not as bad as others on this list but it is still a rough area. 16% of the neighborhood is out of work and entire families only bring in an average of $33,000 per year.
Located halfway between downtown and Chicago Heights along interstate 94 at East 130th Street, Riverdale did not top the list solely because of its low density population of 7,000 residents. The crime index is worst in Chicago and median income is $14,000. The entire population of Riverdale lives below the poverty line as one-in-five residents does not have a job. Homes sell for a mere $90,000 due to low desirability and rental properties. Most Riverdale residents and other folks in Chicago call it a “suburb” but it still deserves a place on this list.
The slightly smaller and even poorer twin of West Englewood is Englewood. This neighborhood boasts a population of 28,000, a crime index that is fourth worst in Chi-town, and a median income of only $20,000. According to government standards, a family of four needs at least $25,000 per year to remain above the poverty line.
1. West Englewood
The worst neighborhood in Chicago is West Englewood which has a population of 35,000, a median income of $29,000 and the 3rd worst crime index in the city. In the 1840s, West Englewood was home to mostly German and Swedish immigrants who worked the farmlands. During World War I, black Americans from the south began migrating to West Englewood. The area reached its peak population (64,000) by 1940. During World War II, there was a sharp decrease in jobs. A lack of employment opportunities led many people to leave the area and this pattern continued. By 2000, almost 100% of the 45,282 person population in West Englewood was African American and living below the poverty line.
Violent crime is so common in this area that local news station, WGN, spent 12 hours documenting the dangers of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved since then. On average, crime in West Englewood is 262% higher than the rest of the country. This means that there are about 27.7 crimes per day for every 100,000 people.
Earlier this year (April 2019), a man was shot to death while sitting on his front porch in West Englewood. Sadly, many of the crimes in this area often go unsolved.
You know this neighborhood has a reputation when Google auto-suggests “West Englewood Crime” before you finish typing the name of the neighborhood. In addition to a low median income, high population and terrible crime index, many residents of the neighborhood struggle to make ends meet. The borders of the neighborhood are W. Garfield Blvd, S. Racine Ave. and railroad tracks.
West Englewood Abandoned Buildings
1. Marquette and Wolcott
Located in West Englewood, this abandoned building has become quite the eyesore to people in the area. Over the years, residents have pushed to have this — and other — abandoned buildings in the area demolished. Empty buildings are often hot spots for people who are looking to commit crimes.
2. Marquette and Justine
This building can be found in one of the most dangerous areas of West Englewood. What was once a beautiful piece or architecture has become the location for several crimes. Although these buildings are boarded up to prevent intruders from using them for illegal activity, the boards are rarely enough to prevent people from entering illegally.
3. Marquette and Hermitage
What used to be a beautiful residence now stands as one of West Englewood’s abandoned buildings. Located at the corner of Marquette Road and Hermitage Avenue, this two story structure has been condemned for years.
4. Marquette and Ashland
Located in an area that was once a popular for its commercial buildings, this abandoned storefront on Marquette and Ashland has fallen into disrepair. Many of these buildings are owned by local banks that would rather the buildings stay empty than pay taxes on them.
5. Garfield and Elizabeth
Like many major cities in the United States, Chicago has a very large homeless population. Many believe that abandoned buildings throughout the city, such as this one on Garfield and Elizabeth, could be rehabbed to create housing options for those who are current living on the street.
6. 71st and Paulina
Like many of the other abandoned buildings in West Englewood, this one is no stranger to being surrounded by violence. In August 2019, 5 people were shot and 2 were killed on this block. These incidents were a few on a list of several other shootings that took place around the same time.
7. 71st and Throop
This home likely fell into foreclosure which resulted in it being condemned. In addition to being boarded up, the home has also been vandalized. Structures like this can significantly lower the property value of surrounding homes.
8. 71st and Racine
This was a beautiful commercial building during it’s prime. Now it’s one building on a list of many that locals and lawmakers are torn between fixing up and demolishing. Although no one can seem to decide what should be done with this building, one thing is for sure: it’s making the area look bad.
9. 72nd and Damen
Abandoned buildings like this may not seem like a big deal to some, but many of these are used for drug and/or gang houses. But gang activity isn’t the only thing that makes these buildings dangerous. Many of these condemned structures also have serious structural issues. Red Xs are “a warning placard affixed to a vacant building structure alerting first responders to the existence of structural or interior hazards in the building that warrant extreme caution when conducting interior firefighting or rescue operations with entry occurring only for known life hazards.”
10. 72 and Marshfield
One of the struggles with demolishing these abandoned buildings is that getting rid of the buildings will create more vacant lots. If there’s one thing West Englewood doesn’t need more of (besides abandoned buildings) it’s vacant lots.
11. 70th and Wolcott
Despite being in terrible condition, it looks like this building is still for sale. Getting a buyer won’t be an easy task, but hopefully a new owner could make a decision on the best way to deal with this depilated property.
12. 71st and Ashland
It may be hard to imagine now, but this was once a beautiful home. It’s not uncommon for homes to stay empty for years in West Englewood. Over time, many of these buildings become damaged beyond repair which can eventually result in them being deemed unfit to enter.
13. 71st and Damen
At one time, this was a popular local convenience store. Now, like so many other buildings on the block, it stands totally empty. For residents of the area, this type of situation has become part of the reality of living in West Englewood.
This house, which is located on the same block, appears to have been left so quickly that the resident’s belongings were left behind. In some cases, these homes are abandoned so quickly that people leave without taking all of their things.
14. 71st and Ada
Once known as a local grocery store called Ada Food, this building has been empty for years. As a large city, Chicago is home to several food desserts. When stores like this go out of business, it makes it increasingly difficult for residents to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
15. 70th and Bishop
Where there is one abandoned building, there are likely more nearby. Sites like this, where there are two abandoned homes side by side, have become very common in West Englewood. Many locals are losing hope that these situations will ever be rectified.
16. 70th and Winchester
Not only do these red Xs symbolize that a building is unsafe, but it is also illegal for anyone to enter a building once this sign has been placed on it. Despite the dangers of going into one of these buildings, some of these structures still remain hot spots for drugs and other criminal activities.
17. 70th and Paulina
For lots of people, these empty buildings represent a much better time in West Englewood. But as the economy in the area continues to worsen and less and less jobs become available, abandoned buildings become more and more prevalent.
18. 69th and Wolcott
One way the city plan’s to revitalize areas like West Englewood is through the Large Lot Program. This initiative will allow people to purchase empty lots that once housed abandoned buildings for just one dollar.
19. 69th Place and Damen
Three abandoned homes in a row paint a said picture of what it’s like in West Englewood. For people who have lived in the area for their entire lives, these buildings are also signs of how much things have changed.
20. 70th and Ashland
When a business is thriving, it’s hard to imagine that it could no longer exist one day. Permanently closing doors has become a reality for many small businesses in Chicago and this shop is no exception.
21. 69th and Paulina
Large enough to take up the whole block, this building was left abandoned and has been empty for years. At the moment, it hasn’t been deemed unsafe to enter, but the longer it stands with no activity the more likely it will eventually become a hazard.
22. 69th and Wood
This used to be the site of a successful plumbing building but the location has since closed. The chances of another owner purchasing and repurposing the building are slim, but there is a possibility that it won’t be abandoned forever.
23. 69th and Damen
Mitchell’s Lounge has been closed for years, but it used to be a popular hangout spot. According to Club Planet “Mitchell Lounge, located at 2005 W 69Th St, is your garden variety pub. It’s not going to win any raves of “Hottest. Bar. Ever.,” but it’s a serviceable place to relax and unwind. Just keep your expectations grounded. And there’s something to be said for beers that cost less than $14 bucks.”
24. 69th and Ashland
When Rudy’s Food and Liquor was open, it was a popular neighborhood spot for people looking to shop or simply hang out. But the store was eventually forced to close its doors. The location has been empty ever since.
25. 69th and Bishop
It’s not always easy to tell that a building is structurally unsound just by walking by. However, the fact that this house has been marked by not 1, but 2 red Xs is proof that this location has been determined to be unsafe.
26. 69th and Ashland
In many ways these abandoned buildings are time capsules. They are forever frozen in time and remain the same no matter how much everything around them changes. This building may have been empty for years, but the exterior walls are still being used for political advertisements.
27. 68th and Paulina
Entire blocks that were once home to families now stand completely empty. Each house has a different story about how it ended up abandoned many of these houses were left behind years ago when people fell on financial hardship.
28. 68th and Wolcott
Abandoned houses are almost always accompanied by overgrown yards. This home has been empty so long that the shrubbery has almost completely covered the home. The structure of this building has gotten so weak that it looks like it could collapse on itself at any time.
29. 68th and Ashland
Not even churches are exempt from being left behind. This building was home to a local congregation but is currently being unused. One of the issues with commercial buildings is once a tenant leaves, the owner may not try — or be able — to find a new renter.
30. 68th and Damen
Empty buildings are so common in West Englewood that there are blocks that have been entirely abandoned. If you’re visiting the area, the number of buildings that are currently unoccupied will definitely leave you a little shocked.
31. 66th and Loomis
Imagine looking into your backyard and seeing abandoned houses. For lots of people in West Englewood, this is the harsh reality. Seeing so many condemned buildings leave people feeling like their community has been forgotten about.
32. 66th and Wood
Demolishing abandoned buildings like this one could help create more green space in the area. This space can be used to help the community by being converted into play grounds, gardens, and other useful spaces.
33. 65th and Justine
Vandalism is common among abandoned buildings. Passersby will tag the building with spray paint or even through rocks or other objects through the windows.
34. 62nd and Winchester
This home’s unique paint color likely means that someone once took a great deal of pride in the property. But as is true with lots of these other abandoned buildings, leaving the property behind was probably out of the owner’s control.
35. 63rd and Oakley
The Latin Souls, a Chicago-based gang, have tagged this building. Their tag leaves a coded message for another local gang, the Saints. Unfortunately, gang activity has been common in the area for decades.
36. 61st and Racine
Permanently closed with flyers still glued to its widows, Steve’s Food and Liquors was once a spot where people could pick up drinks and simple grocery items.
37. 59th and Wolcott
Will any of these storefronts be given a second chance? This is a question many residents would like to have answered. For every business that closes in the community, residents lose a useful product or service and the local economy suffers.
38. 60th and Ashland
Some would argue that having fewer liquor stores in the community isn’t a bad thing at all. On the flip side though, these vacated businesses result in empty buildings that eventually do more harm than good.
39. 59th and Racine
Reports have shown that Chicago is one of the cities with the highest number of abandoned buildings. These vacant places add to the negative perception that many outsiders have of The Windy City.
40. 60th and Bishop
It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to consider buying this property, but an investor may be able to purchase the home and flip it. If there’s one positive that comes from having so many abandoned buildings in the area, it’s that it gives people a chance to purchase properties that may ordinarily be out of their price range.
41. 63rd and Racine
A Lot To Save once provided West Englewood’s residents with fresh fruits and vegetables. This store closing left the neighborhood with one less grocery store option. The area’s reputation often scares business owners and makes it difficult to entice new stores to open.
42. 63rd and Winchester
All of the abandoned buildings on our list have seen better days, but this one is definitely on its last leg. Part of the roof has completely collapsed onto the front porch. Instances like this are a prime example of why it’s important to pay attention to notices that say buildings have dangerous structural damage.
43. 57th and Loomis
Boarding up abandoned buildings may make the property look worse, but this process is very important. Completely boarding up the windows and doors on an empty building can help prevent people from entering the building.
44. 56th and Ashland
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small business fail in their first year. About 50% fail in their fifth year. Many of the abandoned businesses in West Englewood have fallen victim to these statistics – leaving their buildings behind.
During the housing bubble of 2008, lots of homeowners lost their homes. The number of empty buildings in the area increased greatly during this time. Since many of these buildings were foreclosed on, they’re now owned by banks.
45. 57th and Ada
Lots of these abandoned buildings may seem like they’re beyond repair. The good news is that with a little bit of TLC, many of these properties can be restored to their former glory.
46. 56th and Paulina
Buying an abandoned house may not seem like a smart move but there are actually some real benefits to buying a property this way. You’re likely to get a good deal on an abandoned property which will give you more money to use towards renovating it. With hard work and a little bit of luck, you can easily get a major return on your investment.
47. 57th and Hoyne
There isn’t much you can do about living next to an abandoned house but researching local laws may give you a little more leverage than you thought. Look into your city’s ordinances for abandoned buildings to find out if there’s anything that can be done.
48. 56th and Justine
These empty homes are often referred to as “Zombie Houses”. The number of these houses are rapidly growing in West Englewood and other Chicago neighborhoods. According to City Lab, “Vacancy imposes significant costs on local government for additional policing, demolishing buildings, and maintaining lots.”
49. 59th and Laflin
Graffiti is a large issue with empty buildings and can create serious safety concerns. People can be seriously injured or even killed by accessing buildings that have been marked as dangerous.
50. 58th and Justine
Squatters also pose a threat to abandoned buildings. Despite boards on the windows and doors, there have still been situations where people have entered –and lived in– unoccupied homes.
51. 57th and Bishop
The amount of vacant buildings in West Englewood alone is on par with entire cities. For nearly a decade, information on abandoned properties in the area has filled newspapers. As far back as 2011, residents reported being very concerned with the ‘downward spiral’ of the neighborhood.
52. 57th and Ashland
The issue of abandoned buildings in West Englewood and other parts of Chicago may never be fully solved, but residents and local lawmakers are working hard to ensure that this problem doesn’t continue to be ignored.