This is interesting. I look forward to what else Daniel has to say on this in City Notes.
My questions include: are the areas in the historic Black Belt down to more sustainable population densities? That is, should we really be concerned about population loss here?
How will population in areas like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wicker Park/Bucktown be sustained over time if smaller and fewer families are living there? Can and should we expect, or should we embrace, waves of young people, singles, and childless couples to reinforce the loss of families and children with long-term roots in these areas? Is the city taking into account zoning changes that restrict higher density? Are these areas becoming too much like NYC or London with housing shortages that drive up prices?
The areas with population growth are also areas with noticeably less access to mass transit: how will the city contend with this and make sure they become progressive less car-oriented or don’t revert to that in the first place?
Recently I’ve been doing a bit of digging into Chicago’s population figures, with the general research question being: what parts of the city have seen their population fall the most? There are a number of reasons that population matters, beyond civic pride: tax receipts, for example, as well as a consumer base for local businesses. Because jobs generally follow people, a shrinking center city also means that a larger percentage of jobs will be out in the suburbs, far from public transit, making that transit worth less and less to people who would like to use it to commute. As a result, people either a) just don’t have access to lots of jobs, b) spend a huge amount of time commuting, which they can’t spend, say, taking night classes or caring for their kids, or c) spend a bunch of money on a car, which is money they’re not spending on…
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