The Canaryville neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chicago and, with neighboring Bridgeport, has a reputation for insularity or hostility to outsiders. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the neighborhood extends from 40th Street to 49th Street between Halsted Street and Parnell Avenue. The area's residents depended on the development, and suffered from the decline, of the livestock and meat packing industries. Its more successful members moved to newer housing, often in the suburbs, and other work in the post-World War II years.
Its population in 2010 was about half the number in 1930. Historically, it has been known as an Irish American neighborhood. The Irish were the first major group of Europeans to immigrate to Chicago in the 19th Century and defended their territory here against later arrivals, both Europeans and African Americans who came north in the Great Migration. Its gangs were active in attacks on African Americans in the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Since the late 20th Century, Mexican immigrants and their descendants have also moved into the area.
Canaryville's name may refer to the sparrows who fed in the stockyards and railroad cars in the late 19th Century. The name may also refer to youth gangs in the neighborhood, who were known as "wild canaries".