Is Chicago Underpopulated? (Lincoln, Roscoe, Manhattan: fit in, homes, employment)
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North Lawndale and Garfield Park for instance. Look at Bing Maps birdseye views of those neighborhoods and you'll see lots of praries where there once was housing. Not as bad as Detroit but quite disconcerting to old time West Siders.
Also neighborhoods on the south side such as Englewood, huge areas east of the Dan Ryan between IIT and Hyde Park/Kenwood some on the far south side around the Calumet area.
Then there are massive insitutions like UIC and the whole Medical district which used to be largely residential. In fact there are blocks west of Ashland south of the Medical district where they cleared and bulldozed too many blocks and have not built anything.
Now that is one area in Chicago that looks like Detroit-style urban prairie.
"Tall Pink Ones Blooming Now"
(set 12 days ago)
216 posts, read 312,060 times
Underpopulated areas in Chicago
Many areas along 63rd Street on the south side of Chicago have been demolished, particularly the east end of 63rd St, starting around the Illinois Central tracks and heading westward. There is a great U-Tube video posted where a couple of guys take a drive through the neighborhood and show empty lots now growing with green grass. 63rd St used to be a major business street back in the 1920's-1960's. Many of the buildings are now demolished. Also demolished are large areaa of walk-up three story apartment buildings [including the one my grandma lived in many years ago] and many, many two flats. The familes that resided in these apartments/flats typically had more residents, more often a mom and dad, and several children, and sometimes an extended family member, like a grandma. Also closed are churches and schools. There are many areas in Chicago where the population has declined. The construction of the Dan Ryan expressway caused the demolition of many housing units. The US Census 2010 had workers go door-to-door to check on addresses where they did not get a response, so the information is very thorough. The east Garfield Park neighborhood is another area where buildings have been demolished and land is presently empty. These areas are often the so-called "Food Deserts" where grocery stores have also closed. Check out U-Tube - it has some great videos showing these areas on camera.
In fact there are blocks west of Ashland south of the Medical district where they cleared and bulldozed too many blocks and have not built anything.
Indeed, last Saturday my wife and I were driving east on 12th St. from Western to Indiana and I commented on how empty the area south of 12th now is and how crowded it was back in the 1960s when I went to Iggy's.
Well, what are you gonna do. I would imagine the metropolitian area as a whole has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few decades.
It's an American problem. In Detroit what's happened is the city has been abandoned, now the old inner ring suburbs are starting to be abandoned.
It will be interesting, perhaps morbidly interesting, to see what happens. Some of the neighborhoods are just so undesirable that no one would want to move there. And I don't mean just because of crime. They are just ugly, there is nothing to do, there is no reason to move there.
Like others have said, it's a complicated issue. When you account for the fact that the metro is growing, Chicago itself is roughly only the inner 25% of that metro, and it hasn't increased its physical boundaries in decades, the decline is pretty normal.
To simplify the issue, draw a straight line along community area lines from the far SW side to the near south side at the lake: Ashburn-Chicago Lawn-Gage Park-Brighton Park-McKinley Park-Bridgeport-Armour Square-Near South Side. Exclude 3 emptying community areas: E/W Garfield Park + Austin.
That region accounts for 33 of the 34 CAs that have either grown or retained their populations best. None of the bottom 28 are located in this region.
1980 to 2010, those areas have grown over 6% to roughly 1.85 million people.
From 1980 to 2010, the other 38 CAs have declined over 33% to roughly 0.85 million people.
The growing northern area has neighborhoods that generally fall into four categories: wealthy inner core, gentrifying communities, immigrant heavy areas (Asian N SW side, Asian far north side, Hispanic SW and NW sides for example), and solidly middle/working class white family areas of the NW side. White flight has occurred in this region, but immigrant communities took root and generally stabilized areas. Immigrant communities full of generation zero and their first gen kids are also highly dependent upon their local communities (being more culturally isolated), so there is less middle/working class flight to the suburbs from those segments of the population.
The declining region includes predominantly African American areas where African American middle and working class flight to the burbs has taken place. There are also some immigrant communities in this area (although they're further from the city center), and some integrated areas such as Beverley, Hyde Park, etc.
Again, this is grossly simplified, but the city's future in the next 30 years comes down to:
1-the willingness of Hispanic generation 2-4 to remain in the city rather than the suburbs,
2-the willingness of the African American professional class to return to the city the same way large portions of the white professional class has, and
3-what happens in the development of the near west and south sides. If W and S Loop extended have enough high density professional gentrification (and the no turning back, critical mass tipping pt hasn't hit yet), then E/W Garfield, Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas, etc is going to look very, very different...basically any area within 5 miles of DT on the lake or a rail line will be inaccessible to anyone who isn't at the very least solidly working class...probably middle class.
If #3 happens (and I think it will over that time horizon), it may sound like rainbows and cupcakes, but the city will have some very difficult questions to answer. Poor with zero train access, working class with very limited train access, the new Roscoe Village/Lakeview/Bucktown located in a southside neighborhood not wanting to extend train access because they fear "those" people living down a proposed line from their neighborhood, etc.
In short, yes the city has lost population, but it seems to be rebounding in areas over the last 30 years and it looks like it will rebound in additional areas in the next 30. The city will face a problem that wasn't critical in prior decades: where to place people who do a lot of the "dirty work" when it comes to sustaining a functioning the economy. In the past, there was no shortage of space/neighborhoods for those workers to reside. In the future, there will be. Consultants, traders, and lawyers are great, but offices need to be cleaned, restaurants need cooks, non-trade laborers need a place to live too, etc.
1) The Metro area has added people in every census. This is good.
2) I haven't seen this census's figures for number of Households yet, but in every other census, the City of Chicago proper has added households even when population has declined. This is due to demographic changes in household size. This is good, too, although getting families to stay in the city would be a nice improvement. Better schools and lower crime in areas cheap enough to have an average-income family in are probably both necessary.
3) The core of Chicago is growing (albeit slowly) or stable. The periphery neighborhoods are really struggling due primarily to the collapse of manufacturing and steel-making industries. It's taken 20-30 years to see the full impact of that, but it's finally playing its full hand. Replacing that employment base is partly a national problem. However, even without that employment base the empty areas could become attractive to families with better schools and better crime control. Selling the positive aspects of the city for families is another strategy - many long-time suburbanites simply don't know what benefits there are for city kids - they only know the downsides.
Personally I think there are three things that the City and County should be doing:
1) Bring the police force up to full staffing.
2) Allow school choice for all parents.
3) Recognize that parts of the South and West sides are more suburban than urban, and build a new expressway connecting the Kennedy, the Ike, the Stevenson and the Dan Ryan. This will encourage the redevelopment of parts of the West and South sides better than additional transit capacity will.
There is a fourth collection of items that, in my opinion, must happen for the long-term viability of the CTA and Chicago's status as an actual urban center:
4) Remove the right of Aldermen to block dense development within 3/8 mile of any "L" station. Make it difficult for them to block dense development within 1/4 mile of a Metra station. Require a city-wide process for them to be able to block dense development on any site within 1/4 mile of three or more bus lines.
Location: NY-NJ-Philly looks down at SF and laughs at the hippies
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I believe the major issue with Chicago losing population was due to the boom of the automobile. This population loss due to the automobile happened in all of the "older" cities, including my home of Philadelphia. The city lost population, but families were moving from the city to the suburbs. Therefore, the city did not feel empty or abandoned at all. Personally, I love extremely dense cities and would love to see Chicago at around 3.5 million. A 3.5 million city population would put Chicago at around 15,000 ppsm.
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