January 9, 2011 | Chicago Sun-Times | Original Article

Census shows minorities moving outward, whites closer to Loop

Ten years ago the Southwest Side neighborhood surrounding 54th and Kildare was 67 percent white residents with no Hispanic heritage.

But as of 2009, the area was 68 percent Hispanic, with whites dropping to less than a third of the population, according to the latest Census estimates.

This is one of the bigger changes brought to light by the first new neighborhood-level Census data since 2000, but by no means the only change.

The numbers show that more than 600,000 people in the six-county Chicago area live in neighborhoods where the population balance has changed racially or ethnically over the last 10 years.

In most of the changing areas the new group became a majority, making up more than 50 percent of the population. But in some census tracts it took as little as 29 percent for a group to be No. 1 in the area.

In Chicago, the shifts indicate that whites who are not Hispanic expanded west from the lakefront into less expensive neighborhoods, while Hispanics are moving even further west into the bungalow belt on the Northwest and Southwest Sides.

Hispanics also are expanding in the suburbs, both near and further out, while black populations were slightly less concentrated in the city but grew in the south suburbs.

Latinos and blacks appear to be following traditional migration patterns, “flowing outward like spokes on a wheel,” much like Jews and Poles did earlier, according to Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire.

One break from tradition, however, is that Hispanic immigrants are also now moving directly to suburban destinations, like Elgin and Aurora. “Those areas have modestly priced housing and a lot of jobs,” Johnson said.

In the changed neighborhoods across the six-county area, Hispanics displaced non-Hispanic whites as the top group most frequently. This happened in 72 census tracts in the city and suburbs.

Census tracts can be as large as about 40 square blocks and usually hold about 2,000 to 10,000 people. The new data comes from a survey, and while not as accurate as the 2010 census numbers to be released early next year, it is a good indicator of where trends are heading.

In Chicago, Hispanics became the new most numerous group mostly in areas on the Southwest and Northwest Sides, expanding from neighborhoods such as Little Village and Logan Square.

Whites in turn moved into city Hispanic neighborhoods in a big way, becoming the largest group in 23 formerly Hispanic areas primarily on the city’s Northwest Side.

This occurred mostly in chunks of West Town and Logan Square. But whites also displaced Hispanics as the top group in the part of Bridgeport west of Halsted Street on the South Side.

Whites also expanded significantly into 14 formerly black areas, primarily on the Near West Side and in the South Loop.

The most dramatic change was in the Near West Side University Village neighborhood near Maxwell Street. It was 100 percent black 10 years ago. By 2009 the estimates indicate it was nearly 50 percent white and 26 percent Hispanic, likely a result of massive development by the University of Illinois.

Blacks became the new most numerous group in only seven areas in Chicago, taking the top spot from Hispanics or Asians. But Blacks overtook whites in 22 suburban tracts, mostly in the south suburbs, in parts of Matteson, Glenwood, Lynwood, Chicago Heights and Sauk Village.

Blacks also moved into Hillside, Broadview and North Riverside in the west suburbs and Bolingbrook in the southwest, becoming the most populous group in large areas within those towns.

Hispanic populations grew in the suburbs as well. Hispanics became the largest group in most of Berwyn and large parts of Addison, Bensenville and Elk Grove Village. Further out, Hispanics displaced whites to become the most numerous group in parts of Elgin, Carpentersville, Aurora and Round Lake Beach.

Hispanics also took the top spot from blacks in 10 census tracts, three of them in the city.

The largest concentration of Asians remained in Chicago’s Chinatown area, in parts of Bridgeport and Armour Square. However Asians became the new top group in two tracts, one near the medical center on the Near West Side — and in another tract in the northwest suburbs covering parts of Des Plaines, Park Ridge and Niles. That area is across the street from Lutheran General Hospital.

An Asian neighborhood that did not change has the distinction of being the most diverse census tract in the six-county area. The census tract north of Devon Avenue between Ridge and Damen avenues is 29 percent Asian, 24 percent Hispanic, 23 percent white, and 16 percent black.

No other tract had more than 16 percent of all four major groups. And if Asians are not counted, only 36 of 1,821 census tracts in the six county area had 20 percent or more of each of the three remaining groups.