The community area that is now known as Belmont Cragin is one that was built on commerce and industry. Slow to develop after the first settlers put down roots in the latter part of the 1800s, the abundance of wide open spaces helped attract numerous manufacturing businesses to the region. The presence of these companies with large workforces prompted railroads to be built that would reach the area, and in turn, these new railroads helped spur residential growth in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The mid-1900s saw a drop in manufacturing employment that was so important to the neighborhood's early growth, but the 1976 opening of the Brickyard Shopping Mall, on the former site of the Carey Brickyard property, "added new vitality to the community." To further aid in the revitalization of the neighborhood, Belmont Cragin residents organized a "home reinvestment campaign" and also studied ways to "revive the commercial climate in the area."