A WBEZ analysis of new census data released this month shows the white population has surpassed the Latino population in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.
About 46 percent of Logan Square residents are white and 44 percent are Latino, according to the WBEZ analysis of data spanning a five-year period ending in 2017 from the U.S. Census Bureau.
John Betancur, an urban planning professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that as white residents are moving back to the city, they typically flock to Latino neighborhoods that have access to public transit and are close to downtown.
“There was a cycle in which the white community left the city in a rush for a number of circumstances. And now, the white community is coming back to the city and ... back to selected neighborhoods, and Logan Square is one of them,” he said.
Betancur explains that after white residents moved from Chicago out to the suburbs, black and Latino residents occupied those neighborhoods. Logan Square was one of them. The community was virtually all-white until 1960. Between 1970 and 1980, the Latino population there grew from 15,000 to more than 40,000 while the white population fell by more than 50,000 — from 86,000 to 36,000. By 1980, Logan Square was majority Latino.
However, since 2000 as Logan Square has gentrified, the Latino population has fallen there by more than 20,000, while the white population has grown by more than 12,000, according to WBEZ’s analysis.
Betancur said young white professionals were able to afford Logan Square’s increasing rents. However, many of the community’s Latino families, who didn’t own property, couldn’t keep up with rising rents. But Logan Square is not unique, instead it is part of a growing trend, Betancur said.
“Gentrification took back many neighborhoods from Latinos displacing them first from Lincoln Park and Lakeview to then continue moving north along the lake and the train stations, northwest along the brown and the blue lines, and also into the West and the South Loop,” he said.
Displacement concerns have drawn many in Logan Square to march in protest of the rapid gentrification. Some point to new housing developments near public transit and along the ‘606’ trail as threats that have pushed out longtime Latino residents.
Christian Diaz, a housing organizer at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, told WBEZ that much of the development is too expensive and too small for working-class Latino families.
“Overwhelmingly, we feel that that does not include us, it does not include people of color, it does not include families. And we hope the city will take steps to address that problem,” Diaz told reporter Odette Yousef earlier this year.
In addition to Logan Square, the Latino population has fallen in other community areas, including West Town and the Lower West Side, which includes the Pilsen neighborhood, a longtime Mexican enclave.
Meanwhile, as the Latino population has declined in Logan Square, their numbers have grown in several communities on the Southwest Side. The WBEZ analysis shows that Latinos have become the leading demographic group in three communities near Midway Airport.
The Clearing community area, which includes a portion of Midway and areas just west and south of the airport, is majority Latino for the first time, according to the analysis. The area was more than 90 percent white as recently as 1990. The Latino population there has nearly tripled since 2000, according to WBEZ’s analysis.
The Garfield Ridge community area, which also includes a portion of the airport, sits just north of Clearing. The Latino population in Garfield Ridge has tripled since 2000 — from 6,000 to 18,000. During that span, the community’s white population fell from 25,000 to 16,000.
In Chicago Lawn, which includes Marquette Park, the Latino population has surpassed the black population. The community has seen multiple transitions. Virtually all-white until 1970, Chicago Lawn saw its white population fall from 48,000 to 6,000 over the next 30 years. During that time, both the black and Latino population surged there. By 2000, the community was majority black. Since then, the African-American population has declined while the Latino population has continued to grow.