As Chicago’s black population plunges, whites flock to near downtown

SHARE As Chicago’s black population plunges, whites flock to near downtown

The Chicago skyline. | Getty Images file photo

Though Chicago’s overall population fell for the third consecutive year in 2016, U.S. Census Bureau data shows new white residents are flocking to neighborhoods adjacent to downtown while black residents are fleeing some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods in droves.

“The decline in black population really accounts for a lot of the loss,” said Rob Paral, head of a Chicago-based demographic research and consulting firm. “The difference is that the white population is either growing or staying the same.”

Englewood, West Englewood and Austin were home to a combined 188,992 black residents in 2000. In 2015, those same three neighborhoods had 135,831 black residents — a 28 percent decrease — according to Census data.

In that 15-year period, those three neighborhoods combined to see more than 5,600 murders and nonfatal shootings, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Austin, the city’s largest neighborhood by square mileage, saw a particularly steep drop. It went from 105,369 black residents to 81,066 in that 15-year span, according to the Census.

Meanwhile, the rapidly developing West Town, the Near North Side and Near West Side areas saw their combined population grow from 96,573 in 2000 to 137,102 in 2015 — a 42 percent increase, data show.

The rapid white population boom has been most acutely felt on the Near West Side where development, particularly in the West Loop area, has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2000, 11,731 white people called the Near West Side home. By 2015, that number grew to 25,876.

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The city’s overall black population has plunged since 2000. At the start of this century it was just over 1 million. Fifteen years later it was 840,188.

The white population also decreased in that time period, though not nearly as dramatically, falling from 907,166 to 874,876.

As a whole, the city went from about 2.9 million residents to 2.7 million in that time, data show.

In a report published after the 2010 Census, Paral noted that, as black residents left the city, the black population in the south suburbs saw a healthy increase.

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