Having lived in my Logan Square neighborhood for 42 years, the current signs of gentrification are everywhere.
You only have to sit on our front porch and hear the quiet on a summer afternoon. No kids playing ball in the middle of the street. No paleta cart ringing his bell. No elote man honking his horn. No parking spaces because three single twenty-somethings, each with a car, are sharing a $3000 apartment next door that once was home to a family.
But those that have made Logan Square a poster neighborhood for hipsters and gentrification are missing the point.
The exit of poor, middle class and people of color from Chicago is a city-wide deal that goes way beyond Logan Square. The loss of population among African Americans is staggering.
Overall, the region lost black residents in the 11-year period, about 69,000 in all. All of the decline was in the city, which lost 104,000 African-American residents, with some but not most moving to the suburbs. “Those trends suggest that black residents from Chicago are choosing to leave the region altogether,” mostly for Sun Belt cities, the report says.
That’s consistent with findings by Metropolitan Planning Council researcher Alden Loury, who in a recent report specifically examined what’s happening in Chicago proper. The loss is focused among low-income households, Loury added, and is much bigger than in most other major metros.
The population of whites here has dropped, too, down almost 200,000 in the seven counties as a whole, according to Census data crunched by CMAP. But not in Chicago.
In the city, largely in the booming central area and nearby neighborhoods, the white population is up almost 60,000 even as almost twice as many blacks left. The Hispanic population also is growing in both the city and suburbs, though not nearly as quickly as it was a decade ago, with the fastest percentage growth among Asians, although from a fairly small base.
“Chicago’s growth is relying now on whites, growing at 6,000 per year,” Chicago demographer Rob Paral told me after examining the CMAP data. “Really a remarkable change.”
However, the biggest news may be economic: Lower-income people are leaving the city and to a lesser degree the region, replaced by higher income groups.
For instance, among whites in the region, the number of households earning less than $50,000 a year dropped almost 150,000, and the number earning $50,000 to $99,999 declined more than 100,000. But the number of households earning more than $100,000 a year soared by more than 200,000. That loss of the middle class phenomenon has popped up in other data, but rarely that clearly.
Chicago is becoming a home for the rich. All others can leave.