In 1851 Charles Cleaver built a soap factory in what is now known as Oakland, and the town began to boom with industry and was prosperous for many. Soon after, many residents fled to the area because of the convenient location of stockyards and improved access to the city via the newly installed horsecar line.
In 1871, real-estate developers gave this neighborhood the name, Oakland. The center of all the hustle and bustle in Oakland was a commercial district that later became known as “Five Crossings”, where the new residents, many who were affluent, came to shop. Between 1916 and 1920, many African Americans settled in Oakland during the Great Migration. The Oakland population was a diverse mixture of African Americans, Germans, Jews, English, Irish, and Japanese.
An increasing African American population wrought forth racial tensions. White residents tried to use violence and restrictive covenants to keep blacks from moving into Oakland. By 1950, Oakland was seventy-seven percent African American. After public housing projects were placed in Oakland in the 1970s, the streets of Oakland became crime-infested. Oakland even became home to the infamous El Rukn street gang. The neighborhood has remained below poverty level ever since.
information courtesy of Moody Publishers
"Chicago Neighborhood Prayer Guide" by Dr. John Fuder with Elizabeth Koenig
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