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Friday, Sep 28, 2012

* Tribune

Alexandra Anderson, a 25-year-old law student at Northwestern University, is among a growing number of people flocking to downtown homes in major cities across the United States, a group described in a Census Bureau report released Thursday.

The report found that the number of people living within two miles of Chicago’s City Hall rose 36 percent from 2000 to 2010. Though many of the largest U.S. cities experienced a similar trend in the last decade, Chicago outpaced them all in that category.

More than 48,000 moved to downtown Chicago in the last decade, according to the report. New York City saw a 9.3 percent increase in its downtown population, or about 37,000 people.

Anderson said she didn’t think twice about her decision to live in a downtown studio apartment when she moved to Chicago last year. Her apartment is around the corner from Northwestern Law School. A grocery store, a post office and multiple restaurants, bars and coffee shops are all within a five-minute walk.

I moved downtown in early 2001. There were no grocery stores, and lots of other stores closed at 5 o’clock because the Loop used to empty out after work. But things changed fast. I eventually moved back to Springfield, but from what I can tell, downtown appears to be a lot more liveable these days.

Despite some of the problems, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to walk to things like the ballet (I had season tickets back then). The lake was a short hike. Big festivals were more fun to attend because I could easily go home and rest up for a couple hours if I wanted. Getting to baseball games was super easy because the L was right around the corner. Covering downtown news events was a breeze. Back when Chicago still had July 3rd fireworks, I’d often throw a viewing party. You could watch the display in air conditioned comfort without dealing with crowds. I loved living downtown.

But then I started thinking about moving back to Springfield after the brutal 2004 overtime session. The commute was just killing me. The drive down wasn’t so bad. It was the drive back north, after long nights spent, um, “gathering information.” I moved a year later, and I’ve never forgiven Rod Blagojevich for that. Don’t get me wrong. I have a very nice place in Springfield. I enjoy my life here. But I do miss the action.

* Anyway, here’s a map produced by the Tribune which shows population change in Chicago

As the legend shows, the South and West Sides have lost huge numbers, while downtown has gained…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gregor - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    I would assume that downtown move is young professionals doing office type jobs. You can see the collar region, where the job base is more likely a mix of office and manufacturing/other, is still bleeding a bit. That makes sense in that as an economy turns around, “knowledge worker” operations are faster and cheaper to get up and running than re-tooled manufacturing and processing plants.

    The thing to study will be if that brown area slows its decline over the next year or so.

  2. - Shore - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 1:30 pm:

    the challenge for Rahm isn’t that they’re here, it’s getting them to stay in 9 years when she’s added a husband/wife and 2 kids and is deciding where to send junior to school.

  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 1:33 pm:

    Downtown and the Near South and West sides have undergone a sea change in the last 10 years.

    During the national real estate boom, there seemed to be a crane on every corner putting up condo towers. The lunch-time restaurants and after-work taverns were packed with hardhats.

    A lot of them were investment properties as folks were looking to ride that never-ending real estate wave.

    With the building, finally, came the grocery stores, the Targets, the Best Buys, etc.

    There are about 65,000 college students downtown, and a lot of them are renting rather than commuting.

    Harpo Studios, the United Center and the improvements made in anticipation of the 1996 Dem convention sparked a lot of interest in the West, as did the rerouting of LSD and the creation of the Museum Campus in the South. But a lot of it was easy credit and annual increases in property values.

  4. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    This simply cannot be true. Chicago is the center of all evil, corruption, big gvt. and Dem. power.

    No one wants to live there. You can’t even pack a gun. Quick someone tell Radogno and Cross to roundup their GOP members and the Tea Baggers to tell the real truth about everyone trying to leave the city.

  5. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 1:50 pm:

    Gregor, I think you’d find a lot of the young folks moving downtown are just doing so to be around more young people and in a concentrated, cosmopolitan experience.

    Check out the Red Eye and it’s all about young people hooking up at bars and restaurants all around the core.

    If you take the 6:33 Metra north out of Union like I often do, the trains are packed with young professionals heading to the corporate campuses around Lake Cook Road. Pace is waiting there with shuttles.

    The reverse commute out west on the Ike and Reagan Oakbrook/Naperville is jammed, as is the Northwest to Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates.

  6. - Third Reading - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    When I was a young professional lo those many years ago (like, wow, 35!), it was virtually impossible to live and work in the Loop. Almost everything was zoned business and retail.

    I ended up in a studio in the back of a grand old brownstone on East Division Street.

    I loved it. Even then, State and Division had its own, um, cachet.

    Over the years, the City very shrewdly turned the Loop and environs into an amalgam of businesses, entertainment, education, and civic functions.

    I commute into the City now. But I adore the new downtown vibe.

    I’m outta here.

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 2:06 pm:

    –I loved it. Even then, State and Division had its own, um, cachet.–

    Yeah, about 6 a.m. or so the firemen come around, open up the hydrants and hose down the cachet.

  8. - 47th Ward - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===There are about 65,000 college students downtown, and a lot of them are renting rather than commuting.===

    Several new dorms have opened too, some built by colleges like Roosevelt, Columbia or the Art Institute, some by private developers looking at college students as a pretty good market. The south loop is the biggest “college town” in the Midwest. Retail is changing to reflect the shift too, like more pizza joints.

  9. - Skeeter - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 2:47 pm:


    For a lot of those people, the good far outweighs the bad.

    Living in Streeterville means that I need to send my kids to a private school. It also means that I get roughly two more hours per day with them since my commute is 10 minutes rather than an hour.

    It means that on Saturday the question is which museum is best(we prefer the Shedd). Going to a museum or the zoo can be a reward for being well behaved in the grocery store. It can be a place to stop on the way home from Costco. I literally have taken my kids to the Museum of Science and Industry for two hours while my wife got her nails done.

    If we lived in the suburbs, a trip to a museum would necessarily be a full day project.

    One more thing that does not come up much, but matters to young mothers (or mothers to be) is access to health care. Having Prentice a few minutes away sure makes the child birth experience a lot easier.

    So, based on my experience, I suspect a lot of those Northwestern kids will be sticking around.

  10. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 3:16 pm:

    If you have kids near downtown, an annual pass to the Museum of Science and Industry is worth its weight in gold.

    On cold winter days, you can go to your crazy old uncle’s attic and just let the kids roam, safely. It’s unique.

    They used to have reciprocal agreements with Art Institute, Children’s Museum, Notebaert and others for the pass, but I don’t know what the deal is now since I’m so old.

    Anywhere close to downtown and the near suburbs, and Lincoln Park Zoo is a gem. But the Big Daddy is an annual pass to Brookfield Zoo. Open 365 days a year and the annual pass is payed for in three visits. It’s an unbelievable spot.

    Plus, invest in a Radio Flyer and you can load up a cooler with whatever you want, including beer.

    Run those rug-rats ragged. They’ll sleep well.

    I can honestly say some of the best days of my life have been spent at the zoos and museums.

  11. - Wumpus - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    Just don’t carry a smartphone. Chicago is a great city with a lot of flaws.

  12. - wishbone - Friday, Sep 28, 12 @ 3:50 pm:

    “Even then, State and Division had its own, um, cachet.”

    It wasn’t known as State and Perversion for nothing. ;-)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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