Chicago’s population has been declining slightly the past few years, according to recent estimates, but the picture is far more nuanced for the city’s neighborhoods. Some are growing, while others are shrinking. And Chicago’s neighborhoods continue to see dynamic changes in their racial makeup, according to a WBEZ analysis of population estimates for the city’s community areas.
The data used for this analysis are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates for the five-year periods ending in 2012 and 2017. The bureau needs five years worth of results from its annual American Community Survey to develop population estimates for the city’s neighborhoods.
Below are maps showing the change in total population and by race for each of the city’s 77 community areas. The largest gains in total population were in the Loop and surrounding community areas like the Near North Side and Near West Sides, as well as other North Side neighborhoods along the lake. The biggest losses were primarily in African American and Latino communities on the South and West Sides, including West Englewood, Englewood, and the Lower West Side, which includes Pilsen.
Between the two five-year periods, the city’s black population declined by more than 58,000 residents. The heaviest losses of Chicago’s black population were found in several West and South side communities. Austin lost more than 6,800 African American residents, followed by West Englewood (-6,173), Chicago Lawn (-5,510) and Englewood (-4,365). Other research has shown that African Americans leaving the city are moving to other parts of the state and country. HOwever, there are pockets of growth in black residents throughout Chicago, but in smaller numbers. The community areas with growing numbers of black residents are South Shore on the city’s South Side, which gained 2,430 black residents; West Ridge on the far North Side, which gained 1,518; and South Lawndale, an area encompassing Little Village and Marshall Square, which gained about 1,200.
White residents saw the largest growth in population, with an increase of almost 25,000. The community areas with the largest gains in white population were the Near North Side, which gained more than 5,700 residents, and the Loop, which gained about 5,500. They were followed by West Town and the Near West Side, which gained about 3,500 each. Logan Square also saw a big uptick in white residents, gaining about 2,900 — almost replacing the roughly 3,300 Hispanic and 1,000 residents who left the neighborhood in the same time period. Other notable areas of white residents’ growth included Uptown, Lincoln Square, Lake View, Rogers Park, Avondale and South Shore, a predominantly black community area on the South Side.
Latinos saw the second largest increase in numbers, growing by almost 22,000 residents, but there were significant shifts in population in and out of different several community areas. Avondale lost the most Latino residents, almost 5,700. The neighborhood was followed by the Lower West Side, an area that includes Pilsen, which lost about 5,000 Latinos; and Logan Square, which lost more than 3,300 Latinos but gained 2,900 white residents. Experts say that rising rents have pushed the Latino population to the western edges of the city. Other Latino residents are moving to the suburbs. Community areas such as Belmont Cragin, Garfield Ridge and Ashburn have gained sizable numbers of Hispanic residents. Austin, which lost nearly 6,900 black residents, saw about 3,600 Latino residents moving in.
Asians, the demographic with the fastest rate of growth in the city and state, saw their numbers increase by about 19,000 residents in Chicago. Most of their growth was near downtown, in neighborhoods like the Near West Side (2,804), the Loop (1,864), the Near South Side (1,406) and the Near North Side (1,251). Bridgeport also grew by almost 2,400 Asian residents, making that group the most populous in the neighborhood. Rogers Park lost the most Asian residents, many of them immigrants from Southeast Asia and South Central Asia.
Esther Yoon-Ji Kang is a reporter for WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow her on Twitter @estheryjkang.