Unnecessary population loss on the North Side is a problem for the whole city

Here’s one way to put Chicago’s demographic problem: Since 1950, the city has lost more people than currently live in all of San Francisco, Boston, or D.C. After finally increasing its population in the 1990s, the 2010 Census found that Chicago – unique among the large, relatively prosperous cities we consider our peers – had declined by 7%, or around 200,000 residents.

Indeed, just a couple miles from the heart of the Loop lies a neighborhood that, despite a rich history, beautiful architecture, and quick access to the second-largest business district in America, has lost 40% of its population since the middle of the last century. An area that once held 102,000 people is now home to barely 64,000.

That area is called Lincoln Park.

For a long time, most accounts of Chicago’s lagging population have focused on parts of the South and West Sides where many residents, largely African-American, have decided to decamp for the suburbs or the South in search of better schools, less crime, and more jobs.

But the under-appreciated flip side of population loss in those parts of the city is that places that ought to be growing like gangbusters are stagnant, often sitting 25% to 50% below their peak populations. Lakeview, for example, was once home to 124,000 people; its population is now 94,000. North Center is down from nearly 49,000 to under 32,000. West Town, which includes Wicker Park and Bucktown, has fallen from 187,000 to 81,000.



Seg12aCompare the maps: many of Chicago’s wealthiest neighborhoods are dramatically below their peak populations.

Even more startling, these areas aren’t necessarily gaining back those people. Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and North Center all actually lost population in the 2000s. Logan Square, whose rapid ascent as a “hot” neighborhood picked up steam during that decade, was home to 11% fewer people in 2010 compared to ten years earlier.10

The problem, obviously, is not that people don’t want to live in these neighborhoods. Home prices and rents have skyrocketed over the last ten to twenty years; average incomes have climbed with them, as more and more of the well-to-do decide Chicago’s North Side is a place they’d like to call home.

So what’s going on? And why should we care?

One reason is that over the last few generations, Americans all over the country have spread out a bit: apartments that used to hold a family of five or six now contain a family of three or four – or maybe a childless couple who have turned a bedroom into an office. Or maybe just one person, living alone. This is especially true in wealthier areas, where people can afford to buy themselves more space. As a result, if a neighborhood has roughly the same number of housing units it had fifty years ago, it probably has a significantly lower population.

But that doesn’t explain why these neighborhoods, which have become so popular, haven’t seen the construction of more housing units. For most of Chicago’s history, when a neighborhood became more popular, builders created more housing, turning houses into three-flats, and three-flats into courtyard buildings. In a few really high-demand areas, like right along the lakefront or near downtown, they might even have built highrises.

Note that outside of the central area, high rates of housing construction exist mainly along the river - along the western border of Lincoln Park and North Center. Many of those areas were formerly non-residential. Small amounts of new construction translated to high percentage growth.
Note that outside of the central area, high rates of housing construction exist mainly along the river – along the western border of Lincoln Park and North Center. Many of those areas were formerly non-residential. Small amounts of new construction translated to high percentage growth.

But for the last several decades, increasingly strict zoning laws have outlawed this kind of gradual build-up. Instead, Chicago’s laws allow a massive boom in parts of downtown – mostly where there weren’t enough white-collar residents to complain – while putting a tight lid on the neighborhoods.

Since replacing a couple two-flats with a courtyard building is now illegal, developers make money by tearing down an old two-flat and building a luxury two-flat in its place. Or they build a mansion, and the neighborhood actually loses a housing unit. As a result, as a neighborhood becomes more attractive, the city encourages fewer people to live there.

And that’s how we arrived at the bizarro-world reality that Lincoln Park actually lost roughly the same number of housing units as Englewood between 2000 and 2012.

You can see how dramatic the effect is by looking at population growth around the borders of downtown: where relatively loose downtown zoning holds sway, the number of residents boomed. But instead of gradually tapering off as you get further away, there are sharp drop-offs all around the central area. Often, a few blocks where the population grew by 50% or more are right next to a few blocks where population actually declined. In most cases, zoning plays a crucial role in those disparities.

But so what? Why does any of this matter?

For one, it matters because if the number of housing units in a neighborhood is capped, as that neighborhood becomes more desirable, affluent new arrivals will outbid existing residents and people of moderate income, pushing up housing prices and creating newly segregated enclaves. If we want regular people to be able to live in some of our safest, most transit-accessible neighborhoods, allowing the supply of housing to grow with demand is a crucial part of that affordability.

Second, as places like Lincoln Park become forbiddingly expensive, some people decide their next best option is, say, Wicker Park or Logan Square. When they arrive, they open coffee shops and hipster bars, attracting people with more money, who then bid up housing prices there, expanding the parts of the city where the working class simply can’t afford to live.

But most potential residents will just decide to move to the suburbs. And, once there, they won’t be supporting neighborhood businesses. They won’t be contributing to the city’s tax base. In other words, by pushing people to the suburbs, we’re giving up neighborhood jobs and money the city desperately needs to provide services in every neighborhood in the city, including – especially – the ones that are actually struggling, far from Lincoln Park.

The fact that Chicago’s affluent North Side communities have lost so many people, and aren’t gaining them back, is a huge problem for many local businesses, current residents of moderate means, and anyone who would like to move there but can’t afford to.

But even if none of that describes you, it’s also a problem for those of us who’d like to see City Hall have more resources to invest in other parts of the city, from policing, to schools, to transit, to road repair. It’s a problem for those of us who’d like to see more jobs created within commuting distance of Chicago communities where unemployment is endemic. It’s a problem, in other words, for all of us.

23 thoughts on “Unnecessary population loss on the North Side is a problem for the whole city

  1. I think this points to the broken system of zoning in Chicago (if not most cities)s. Given the exceeding power of Chicago’s alderman, and the splintered policy-making, much of which is localized in wards and precincts, zoning becomes a tragedy of the commons. That is, what a lot of people would like is to make sure their house (or to be generous, their neighborhood) is low density semi-rural single family houses surrounded by nothing but parks and lakes, while the rest of the city has the 100-story skyscrapers necessary to support the tax base and infrastructure that provides the city amenities they can’t get in the suburbs.

    How close they get to that ideal depends on how powerful they are. The only way to reduce this tragedy of the commons is to have an actual city-wide zoning plan that makes intelligent decisions about which areas can bear higher densities and which areas should be left low density. But of course this would reduce the power of local aldermen whose districts may have to “sacrifice” for the common good, and also reduce the ability to extract campaign contributions from developers in exchange for piecemeal zoning exceptions.

    Thus a feedback loop is created, whereby rich residents can prevent re-zoning of their neighborhoods (while they make damn sure they have the resources like transit, roads, etc. beyond what their density requires), alderman can get re-elected promising to maintain those zoning restrictions, while they get money from developers to circumvent those very zoning restrictions, so that during the next election cycle, they can decry those very developments they approved.

  2. One startling thing about this phenomenon is to consider north side El ridership- Brown and Red lines- if I am not mistaken are near all time highs, and yet as DKH notes, population is down 40% in the neighborhoods they serve. Insanity. The people are crying out for more transit-serviced neighborhoods. We don’t just need station remodelings. We need 2 or 3 more NORTH SIDE el lines. At least one to the east of the current Els and one to the West. Combine that with zoning reform to greatly increase rentable square feet of residential space to bring down costs, and you can bring people back to this city

  3. Daniel,

    Narrowing the maps in on the focus of your article, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and North Center are all in the “Down 0-5%” category for 2000-2010. The entire “gentrification wave” in the US didn’t get started until the 90’s, so I think it’s fair to say that these neighborhoods are “hot” as is, not as they were in 1950. So while your trend is on point, these neighborhoods are basically flat and I think you’re being a little hyperbolic. The question is ‘should we allow zoning to prevent them from growing?’ That said, the parking requirement laws are just horrendous, particularly when juxtaposed in proximity to the CTA, which is an asset we invest billions in maintaining.

    “Logan Square, whose rapid ascent as a “hot” neighborhood picked up steam during that decade, was home to 11% fewer people in 2010 compared to ten years earlier.” < I don't think Logan Square has truly picked up until right now, with the Milwaukee corridor development boom. Bucktown was up in terms of units, if I look at your last map.

    "And that’s how we arrived at the bizarro-world reality that Lincoln Park actually lost roughly the same number of housing units as Englewood between 2000 and 2012." < Units aren't the problem in Englewood. The people are fleeing. Population was down 25% for the decade compared to LP's ~2.5% (using the midpoint of your ranges).

  4. An esteemed land use law professor at a local university described the city’s development process, with alderman as gatekeepers, as “moderately to severely corrupt.” Then he assigned a litany of readings to prove the point.

    Changing the approach to Chicago zoning and development to allow for more housing units in desirable areas could do exactly as the last few grafs state: “…City Hall have more resources to invest in other parts of the city, from policing, to schools, to transit, to road repair.” And if you want to reform the city, reverse the population trends, raise more public revenue, maybe upzoning Lincoln Park, Logan Square, and a few North Side neighborhoods etc. is a good start.

    But without achieving a single reform in city zoning policy, without a single new tear-down, conversion, or ground-up multifamily construction on the North Side, there actually already IS a really good amount of relatively affordable (on middle-to-lower-middle-class earnings) housing throughout the West and South Sides within a reasonable walk of transit where you have a very doable commute to downtown and neighborhood/citywide amenities. Many of these areas and properties also offer fairly plentiful parking, on- and off-street. Some are rehabbed, some aren’t, but with a little more interest from the market, I think a lot more would be rehabbed as there are lots of incentives to do so. Vacancy rates have been kept in check in some areas through demolition and condemning of distressed properties, but if people wanted to live there, buildings would get fixed, not knocked down.

    Sure, maybe the restaurant corridors aren’t “thriving,” but then again, some of them already are, even if they don’t have a strip of hip places. If you live near Little Village, for example, you should never be bored. There are Bronzeville apartments where you can walk (or quick bus or bike ride) to Sox games and the lakefront.

    The bigger problem–even more deeply entrenched than corrupt zoning–stems from segregation and fear. It always comes back to this, doesn’t it? Those who can’t afford much of the North Side, want to stay in an urban environment, but think they have to live in a certain racial/ethnic environment force themselves into a false dichotomy of “It’s North Side or giving up on the urban environment and moving out because the South and West Sides aren’t safe and they simply aren’t options.” This is true not only of families but also younger, childless, urban-desiring households in their 20s and 30s. Granted, Pilsen and Bridgeport are exceptions, and there’s historically Kenwood/Hyde Park, Garfield Ridge, Clearing, Beverly, Mount Greenwood, Ashburn (apologies for any omissions), but most of these areas aren’t well-served by regular running rapid transit (the L). One suggestion for making parts of the South and West Side more desirable would be to run L-like service on one or more of the Metra lines between the city limits and downtown, but that’s probably a pipe dream with all of the proposed transit cuts.

    My point is the South and West Sides are geographically huge, already have a bunch of reasonably affordable housing, and they should get more attention–from developers, realtors, and house/apartment-hunters. Stop the unofficial redlining with the thinly veiled language of “this neighborhood is a ‘edgy or sketch!'” Part of Chicago’s uniqueness is the abundance of mid-scale and single-family housing that is still part of urban, walkable neighborhoods. Look at Madison Street on the West Side. Much of the Madison Street corridor is accessible to both the Blue and Green lines, yet so many people would never consider living around there.

    It doesn’t have to be like this, folks. We can upzone the North Side until we’re blue in the face, but it won’t change the segregated nature of the city. Though Daniel is right that growing city-wide tax base is a middle step in fixing what I’m describing, maybe the reform is more social than policy-driven. Hard as it is, we have to try to undo the damage that redlining, blockbusting, and segregated public housing did, not through enabling the typical rent-gap gentrification process that displaces residents, but on an incremental, person-by-person basis. When you hear from friends looking for housing, new to the area or native, maybe say, “Hey, have you checked out _____ off the Pink/Green/Blue line?”

    1. John C. I am currently having this discussion with my roommates. Their biggest reason for not living in these areas isn’t racial, or safety based. It is that living in McKinley Park would be far enough from our current neighborhood that fewer people would visit us, and without any cross city transit our trips to visit our friends would be equally arduous. The Northwest side along the Blue Line has become attractive because it is a short bike ride or taxi from areas that most people looking in these areas had already been priced out of. It is within functional proximity to quickly get from one to the other to visit old friends or have them visit you. If you have enough friends living in Pilsen, Bridgeport, & Tri-Taylor, then McKinley Park & Douglas Park start to look attractive, otherwise you’re more than moving, you’re changing your social constructs. Which people it turns out will pay a lot of money to avoid doing.

    2. I think you’re right that the fundamental issue is social, rather than economic. Pete Saunders has also written about that. But unfortunately (in this instance), policy levers are overwhelmingly economic rather than social, and so that tends to be the focus of a lot of what I write.

    3. A small part of me believes that the restrictive zoning policies have an ulterior motive, to spread gentrification to the west and south side. I know our elected officials are not this clever (devious) though.

      I think we’d see more development (gentrification) of the west side if there were N-S public transit option. Gentrification would follow these transit hubs ( i imagine)

  5. I think you’re making a pretty huge logical leap here. The trend is towards lower population density is clear, true. That it’s necessarily an issue, is unsubstantiated at best. There’s an overall pro-urban lifestyle trend and more people that previously would have lived in the suburbs or moved there between ages 25-35 are staying in the city. It’s causing changes to neighborhoods. That’s not objectively good or bad.

    On the positive side, schools are getting better, crime is down, properties are kept up better and I don’t have the data on this, but I’d certainly wager that the business/retail environment is more robust now than it was 30+ ago in these neighborhoods.

    With respect to City Hall resources, has tax revenue grown or decreased from Lincoln Park, Lake View, Wicker/Bucktown, Roscoe, North Center over the last 30 years? I don’t know the answer, but if you’re claiming this decrease in pop density is a resource drain on City Hall, I’d like to see that data (again, I don’t know the answer).

    I’d also argue that the trend toward lower population density is making the city/suburb a more difficult decision, rather than just default to suburbs like in years past. Maybe people are priced out of Lincoln Park, but many other neighborhoods are seeing growth in families staying in Chicago.

    Finally, it seems like your underlying issue with lower pop density is that it’s a “problem… for anyone who would like to move there but can’t afford to do so.” The down-zoning does have some merit. That said it’s a bit of a chicken/egg because Lincoln Park wouldn’t have the appeal it does if you buy a place and a few months later a five story apartment goes up next to you.

    I’m not a crazy Ayn Rand “if you can’t afford it, sucks to be you” person, but it is a fact of life that there is a finite amount of land and infinite demand in certain areas. I also agree diversity is a net positive for everyone. There are, however, a lot of positive externalities to robust, highly desirable (lower density) Chicago neighborhoods. It makes surrounding neighborhoods more desirable. It provides a strong employee base for companies to locate in the Chicago CBD downtown and surrounding areas. It encourages public transportation, which has enormous fixed costs–higher red, blue, brown ridership allow investment throughout the system. It provides a market for retail–see Division St, Damen Ave, Lincoln Ave, North Ave, Wells St, Wrigleyville.

    The trend towards lower population density has winners and losers. Agreed. I just disagree that on the whole it’s a net negative. I’d argue that finding ways to make the transition from higher to lower pop density less jarring for existing residents and lower income folks is a bigger issue than the trend itself.

    P.S. Big fan of your site (and your insights).

    1. The issue isn’t that Lincoln Park’s tax collections have declined absolutely – it’s that they’re far, far below their potential. If Lincoln Park was simply to gain back all the people it has lost since 1950, that would be an enormous boost to the city’s finances, local jobs, etc.

      I remain totally unconvinced that building five-story apartments would reduce the desirability of the neighborhood in any meaningful way. Surely there are people who really want a single family home, and it’s possible that reducing the supply of those would send some people to the suburbs; but there are more than enough to replace them. I’ve asked before, totally sincerely, for anyone to provide me with an example of a desirable neighborhood that densified because of market-built housing since the advent of modern sanitation that became less desirable as a result of that densification. No one has ever been able to come up with one, though I can think of a dozen that densified without becoming less desirable.

      And thanks!

  6. Great points by John and Jacob, I think it’s important to take the long view here and realize that development/gentrification of new neighborhoods takes time. We had a massive construction boom in the South Loop before the recession, those units took a number of years to absorb. Given the dearth of construction over the past 5 years, supply is low and prices are high, but I don’t see evidence of a Manhattan/San Francisco style housing costs are out of control, no place to add new units yet. We’re just reaching the top of the cycle. The next wave is blue line development. I think it’s a safe bet that the “next” wave will fall within “trendy” and or “safer” pockets of all the near neighborhoods you describe. Basically anything East of Western Avenue and North of Pershing Ave.

  7. “For one, it matters because if the number of housing units in a neighborhood is capped, as that neighborhood becomes more desirable, affluent new arrivals will outbid existing residents and people of moderate income, pushing up housing prices and creating newly segregated enclaves.

    Second, as places like Lincoln Park become forbiddingly expensive, some people decide their next best option is, say, Wicker Park or Logan Square. When they arrive, they … then bid up housing prices there, expanding the parts of the city where the working class simply can’t afford to live. But most potential residents will just decide to move to the suburbs. ”

    Okay so I’d like to propose a little bit of a re-framing here. I do not think that the shift in preferences and “wealth-ifying” of city neighborhoods increases segregation. It merely imports the wealthy enclaves from areas like the north shore into the city. Chicago begins to look more “European” with a wealthy city center as a result.

    Working class people generally can never afford to live in wealthy areas, regardless of where those areas are. They are priced out. Re-zoning can add supply to try and combat pricing in the aggregate, but pricing is generally not lumpy on a price/sq ft (factoring in quality of improvements) basis. Up-zoning will reduce the footprint of a unit, and let you buy a smaller chunk, but that doesn’t necessarily invite working class families to the area as much as it does yuppies who don’t have kids/need the space.

    Even at the micro-level when you force it, rich/poor segregation persists. It’s not a blended harmonious existence. Chicago’s Old Town / Manierre Elementary / the Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes is a perfect example of this: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/realestate/20150121/CRED03/150129968/big-affordable-housing-deal-includes-old-town-complex

  8. A couple commenters questioned whether it would be better to simply encourage people to live in other neighborhoods with higher vacancy rates but similar convenience to the Loop and transit. I would answer that with two things:

    First off, as places like Houston have demonstrated growth can create its own gravity. If you grow enough, you keep growing because you’re growing. That sounds a bit absurd, I know, but it can be shown to actually happen. If Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc, are allowed to keep growing, they will be engines to attract more people both to themselves and to the city in general. People who move to Chicago may want to start out in a “sure thing” sort of place, a place that already has everything they want. People who’ve lived here 10 years are a lot more likely to be willing to try new neighborhoods and will have a better idea of which new areas are good bets. You don’t grow McKinley Park with people who have never moved to Chicago before, you grow Lincoln Park with people who’ve never lived in Chicago before and then, after they become Chicagoans and want more space or get priced out or want to try their hand at pricing a submarket to make a real estate profit, you encourage them to populate the secondary markets and bring them back into economic importance. It’s a microcosm of how the nation works – new Americans land in New York or LA or Chicago, and then they move to other parts of the country. New Chicagoans can land in Lincoln Park or Lakeview and then move to other parts of the City. But we need to give them someplace to land first, and for better or for worse, those places are going to be like Lincoln Park and Lakeview, not McKinley Park or Little Village.

    Second, and this sounds arrogant, but people shouldn’t have much say in what happens with zoning. Most people don’t live their entire life in one neighborhood, especially today. So it is the responsibility of the City to make sure that areas are sustainable for generations, even centuries of residents. Allowing popular areas to gain residents increases their popularity and improves the advantages of urban life. Which keeps the City sustainable for generations of residents both today and in the future. People move into Chicago because it’s a city, and it’s the job of the City government to make sure that the City retains the qualities that make a city a city instead of allowing it to depopulate into something more like a village. Lincoln Park people like to call it a “village,” without recognizing that it has historically had the density of a true city, and also failing to realize that pre-car even small cities had greater density than Lincoln Park currently has.

    So let growth feed growth, and let the City be a city. And to do that, we really do need to get the aldermen out of the way of proper zoning and planning.

    1. Eric, overall good points, and I see what you mean, but it’s important to be inclusive in the definition of “new Chicagoans.” Someone who just moved from Guatemala with their kids is as much a new Chicagoan as someone who moved from Kalamazoo, single, with a newly minted diploma. The difference is one transplant is likely to browse through listings, work with a realtor, reach out to friends for recommendations, etc., and the other is likely just to go where they have familial connections and/or where their culture and language are represented. The overlap is they probably both benefit from public transit, food access, parks, things to do, and access to jobs and the rest of the city.

      I reiterate that people actually can be “steered” to neighborhoods–realtors have been doing it forever, usually to society’s detriment and their profit–and instead of steering them to Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Old Town, West Loop, et al, there could be a counter-effort to get them to check out other neighborhoods. Realtors won’t do this because they want the highest commissions — well, at least they won’t do it until the gentrification engine is on full blast — but certainly nonprofits, neighborhood groups, and agencies could make an effort to counter. There are some great neighborhoods with all-and-all friendly neighbors and cultural vibrancy–that are quite a bit cheaper than the trendy ones–that the above-mentioned Kalamazoo transplant tends not to land in, despite having a lot of housing flexibility in being most likely single and childless. Getting a few more of them to land there might be as simple as changing the messaging and marketing.

  9. This argument doesn’t make much sense. Lincoln Park and Lakeview are desirable specifically because of the lower density, and because they serve as a compromise between downtown living and suburban living. If you upzoned these neighborhoods you would lose the existing wealthy population to the suburbs, and you would harm population growth in less healthy city neighborhoods. You would probably also reduce the ring of development surrounding downtown, since in reality few want to live in the West Loop/South Loop compared to Lincoln Park/Lakeview.

    1. No, I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that Lincoln Park and Lakeview are desirable because of its lower density – if anything it’s the opposite: both of them are denser than the average Chicago community area. If you upzoned them, you might get luxury highrises, which as we can all see have turned River North into a slum that the wealthy flee from as quickly as possible.

      1. The wealthiest parts of Lincoln Park/Lakeview are fairly suburban in style, and comprised primarily of single family homes (often enormous and of recent vintage). The cheapest/least wealthy parts of Lincoln Park/Lakeview are extremely dense and highrise (and these are the least desirable parts). The communities are essentially a compromise between downtown life and suburban life.

        In contrast, River North is purely a downtown neighborhood. What works for River North doesn’t necessarily work for Lincoln Park, just as what works for Lincoln Park doesn’t necessarily work for Lake Forest. Given that Chicago tends to have a glut of housing relative to other major U.S. cities (because Chicago tends to be more pro-development), and tends to have lower returns on residential investments (both personal and institutional) it would be foolish to allow highrise construction in the prime parts of Lincoln Park/Lakeview, especially given the sea of parking lots and underutilized land surrounding downtown. You would get less growth where it’s most needed.

      2. Alex, I don’t actually think that’s the case. “What works for X doesn’t work for Y” is sometimes true, but you need to actually have a theory for why that is – and then you need to have some evidence to support the theory. In this case, I don’t see any evidence. I’ll ask this again, not as a rhetorical question, even though I’ve never gotten an answer: Can you think of a single American neighborhood that has densified as a result of market forces since the advent of indoor plumbing that has become less desirable as a result of that densification?

      3. Well, not to open up a whole can of worms, but very immigrant neighborhoods, even after the advent of indoor plumbing (including ones populated with domestic migration, like Bronzeville), became more dense yet “less desirable” with the non-immigrant population. I suppose you could reply that it wasn’t the densitification itself that less the non-immigrants to not find it desirable, but my larger point is that “desirable” is not a good measure of, well, much of anything because it’s wishy-washy and depends entirely on personal opinions. And I say that while agreeing that, in general, density is very much a good goal for a city to maintain.

      4. I’m not sure I agree with this, though partly it’s my fault for phrasing the question wrong. Since we were talking about densification in the sense of construction – the theory being that people won’t want to live somewhere if the built environment is changed – that’s what I had in mind: the densification of Latino neighborhoods has taken place almost entirely as a result of larger household sizes. You’re right that densification simply in the sense of a population increase as a result of larger households can itself by a sign of demographic “filtering” down the economic ladder.

      5. There are plenty of neighborhoods that densified and became less desirable. If anything, that’s the norm, not the exception. The idea of depopulated poor neighborhoods is a very American phenomenon, very location-specific (generally just African American neighborhoods, particularly in the Rustbelt) and a very recent phenomenon (basically 1960’s to present).

        Modern- day examples of neighborhoods that densified and became less desirable exist in basically every poor immigrant neighborhood in the U.S. The neigborhoods surrounding downtown LA, the eastern San Fernando Valley, large swaths of the West Bronx, arguably SE Queens, much of East Houston, much of South Dallas, Mexican parts of Chicago, etc.

        Generally speaking, the most desirable U.S. urban neighborhoods have flat or declining population, which makes sense, as they are generally landmarked/protected and are rapidly transitioning with smaller apartment units being combined into massive family units. Think West Village, Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights, Beacon Hill, Georgetown, Pacific Heights, etc. Even in Chicago to some extent, in Gold Coast and Lincoln Park.


      6. See below: because we’re talking about new construction, I’m talking about places that “densified” in the sense of building new units, not just where household sizes increased – which is almost by definition an indicator of declining per capita income.

  10. Daniel, what was the source for the population figures? I’ve been wanting to do a more detailed micro-analysis of my corner of the city in Jefferson Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. Thanks.

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