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Austin is no longer the city’s largest neighborhood

Monday, Jul 17, 2017

* The Trib has a good story about the hollowing out of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood

Home to nearly 118,000 people in 2000, Austin has seen its population drop to 97,600, according to an average of census data collected between 2011 and 2015. It has been overtaken by the North Side’s Lakeview neighborhood, whose population has remained steady since the 1980s and currently has about 98,200 residents.

Chicago’s violence is at its highest since the drug wars of the 1990s, and Austin is center stage to many of the shootings and homicides: As of July 13, there were 258 shootings in the area in 2017 and 44 homicides, according to Tribune data. More than 1,900 people have been shot in Chicago so far this year.

The city as a whole is losing residents, and Chicago last year was the only city of the country’s 10 largest to lose population. Residents who’ve packed up and left Chicago have cited a variety of reasons — high taxes, the state budget stalemate and the weather.

Those in Austin have a different list of concerns. More than 30 percent live in poverty. Storefronts are shuttered, and grocery stores are few and far between. The neighborhood high schools that remain open are under-resourced.

But in a neighborhood where retaliatory shootings mean unending violence, many residents say safety is the biggest issue. […]

(M)oving isn’t always easy. Some people are trapped in the neighborhood by their subprime mortgages; others can’t leave because no one wants to buy a house on a block saturated with gun violence.

Go read the whole thing. [Fixed link.]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

12 Comments
  1. - Grass Bowl - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Rich - bad link


  2. - Rocky Rosi - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    Add more police, manufacturing plants/jobs, fund education, and keep the criminals in prison for a long time. Just pretend Austin was like the north shore or Hinsdale, meaning give the Austin residents the same thing the burbs have and the population will go back up.


  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    Excellent deep dive journalism by Eltagouri. Well done.

    Confirms what’s been obvious to anyone with eyes for a long time. Black residents who can get out of low-income neighborhoods are doing so, while Greater Loop and North Side predominantly white neighborhoods are growing.


  4. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    === give the Austin residents the same thing the burbs have ===

    They can take from Oak Park, it’s right next door.


  5. - Roman - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Part of a larger demographic trend in the city…fewer African-American residents on the west and south sides, more affluent whites on the lakefront and downtown.

    Two political challenges that will result: 1) Drawing a legislative map after 2020 that doesn’t diminish African-American representation. 2) The next round of CPS school closings, which will likely hit once-prominent legacy high schools like Austin and Fenger. Austin H.S. was at one time the state’s largest, with over 6000 students, it now has about 300.


  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    ==Add more police, manufacturing plants/jobs…==

    The old Brach’s factory at Lake/Cicero was demoed and cleared almost 5 years ago and its 30 acres have been readily available to “build to suit”. It still looks like a salt flat.

    ==give the Austin residents the same thing the burbs have==

    Um, that’s Rahm’s department. No need to go to the burbs for funding when there’s plenty money and resources on the north side. Where’s Rahm’s long-term plan for Austin?


  7. - City Zen - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:43 am:

    Oops…Anonymous at 11:42 is me.


  8. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 12:04 pm:

    We’ll if every arrest wasn’t police brutality that might be like Hinsdale. And why should a map be drawn to protect any voting block? If a racial block lost population it lost population. It is a math question or should be


  9. - Roman - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    == why should a map be drawn to protect any voting block? If a racial block lost population it lost population. It is a math question or should be ==

    It’s just not that simple. The Voting Rights Act and a host of subsequent court decisions specifically protect minority voting blocks. Legislative map-makers draw districts with an eye toward surviving a court challenge on that basis. It is hard to imagine a map that maintains the same number of black-majority districts given the population loss, but any map that does reduce African-American representation will likely be contested in court — and therein lies the political challenge.


  10. - Chicagonk - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    @Roman - The reality is that regardless of what the mapmakers come out with, the map will be contested in court. My guess is that it will be difficult to make map that has two AA senators from the west side of Chicago


  11. - Emily Booth - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:41 pm:

    The article starts in 2000 but there was an overall population drop of around 30% on the west & south sides in 1999 from years before. I worked on the west side for IDPA/IDHS. When I was in Detroit 6 years ago, parts of it reminded me of the west side. Good article.


  12. - FirstTimeCaller - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:08 pm:

    @Roman, thank you, I had no idea it used to be so large.

    I did some digging — OK, Wikipedia — and discovered one contributing factor:

    As part of the Renaissance 2010 program, the school’s campus was then converted into three smaller high schools:

    Austin Polytechnical Academy, which opened in 2007,
    Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, which opened in 2006,
    V.O.I.S.E. Academy High School, which opened in 2008. (VOISE stands for “Virtual Opportunities Inside a School Environment”; the school combines an online curriculum with classroom instruction.)

    source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Community_Academy_High_School

    I’m sure that’s not the only reason, but it likely contributed.


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