THE 20TH CENTURY GANGS
In the early 1900s the U.S. economy worsened, the population grew at a rapid pace, and the gap between the rich
and poor widened. All across the nation gangs appeared where poor, hopeless people lived. The dawning of the 20th
century also brought with it a widespread use of firearms.
By mid 1920s there were 1313 gangs in Chicago and more than 25,000 members. Gang warfare in Chicago was
widespread and fighting took place along ethnic, cultural and racial lines. Some gangs had no noticeable cultural,
ethnic or national ties and consisted mostly of whites.
The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of Chicano (Mexican-American) gangs in Los Angeles. By the 1940s Chicano
gangs established their place in Los Angeles-their zoot suits (a style of dress incorporating tapered pants, long wide-
shoulder coats and broad-brimmed hats) had become a familiar sight. Fighting back against harassment of white
residents and visiting soldiers during the so-called zoot suit riots in 1943 strengthened their cause.