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The city of
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
is divided into 77 community areas for statistical and planning purposes. Census data and other statistics are tied to the areas, which serve as the basis for a variety of
urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design A design is a plan or specification for the construction o ...
initiatives on both the local and regional levels. The areas' boundaries do not generally change, allowing comparisons of statistics across time. The areas are distinct from but related to the more numerous neighborhoods of Chicago; an area often corresponds to a neighborhood or encompasses several neighborhoods, but the areas do not always correspond to popular conceptions of the neighborhoods due to a number of factors including historical evolution and choices made by the creators of the areas. , Near North Side is the most populous of the areas with over 105,000 residents, while Burnside is the least populous with just over 2,500. Other geographical divisions of Chicago exist, such as the "sides" created by the branches of the
Chicago River The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center (the Chicago Loop). Though not especially long, the river is notable because it is one of the reasons for ...

Chicago River
, the wards of the
Chicago City Council The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body ...
, and the parishes of the Roman Catholic Church. The Social Science Research Committee at the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
defined the community areas in the 1920s based on neighborhoods or groups of related neighborhoods within the city. In this effort it was led by sociologists
Robert E. Park
Robert E. Park
and
Ernest Burgess Ernest Watson Burgess (May 16, 1886 – December 27, 1966) was a Canadian-American urban sociologist born in Tilbury, Ontario. He was educated at Kingfisher College in Oklahoma and continued graduate studies in sociology at the University of Ch ...
, who believed that physical contingencies created areas that would inevitably form a common identity. Except for the addition of two areas ( O'Hare from land annexed by the city in 1956 and Edgewater's separation from Uptown in 1980) and expansions due to minor annexations, the areas' boundaries have never been revised to reflect change but instead have been kept stable. The areas have become a part of the culture of Chicago, contributing to its perception as a "city of neighborhoods" and breaking it down into smaller regions for easier analysis and local planning. Nevertheless, Park's and Burgess's ideas on the inevitability of physically-related areas forming a common bond have been questioned, and the unchanging nature of the areas has at times been considered problematic with major subsequent changes in the urban landscape such as the construction of expressways.


History

During the 19th century wards were used by the Census Bureau for data at the level below cities. This was problematic as wards were political subdivisions and thus changed after each census, limiting their utility for comparisons over time. Census tracts were first used in Chicago in the 1910 Census. However, by the 1920s the Social Science Research Committee at the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
wanted divisions that were more natural and manageable than the arbitrarily-designated and numerous census tracts. The sociologist led this charge, considering physical barriers such as railroads and the
Chicago River The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center (the Chicago Loop). Though not especially long, the river is notable because it is one of the reasons for ...

Chicago River
to form distinctive and consistent areas within the city, which he deemed "natural" areas that would eventually merge into a distinctive identity.
Ernest Burgess Ernest Watson Burgess (May 16, 1886 – December 27, 1966) was a Canadian-American urban sociologist born in Tilbury, Ontario. He was educated at Kingfisher College in Oklahoma and continued graduate studies in sociology at the University of Ch ...
, a colleague of Park's who shared his thinking, was crucial in creating and naming the community areas. Initially able to identify 400 neighborhoods of the city, he considered that number excessive and trimmed it down to 80 and thereafter 75 by grouping related neighborhoods into a single community area. The Chicago Department of Public Health wished to present local differences in birth and death rates; it worked with the committee to produce the list of 75 community areas, which were divided into 935 census tracts. After the community areas were introduced, the
University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest and one of the oldest university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to t ...
published data sorted by them from the 1920 and 1930 Censuses, as well as a citywide 1934 census to help collect data related to the
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, in what was known as the ''Local Community Fact Book''. With the exception of 1970 (whose data was published in 1980), it continued this publication for every subsequent census through 1990, expanding in the 1960s to also cover major suburbs of Chicago. The
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning #REDIRECT Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning#REDIRECT Chicago Metropolitan Agency for PlanningThe Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) (est. 2005) is responsible for comprehensive regional transportation planning planning in Cook C ...
continues this work by periodically publishing "Community Snapshots" of the community areas and suburbs, the most recent being data from 2018 published . Only two major changes have occurred in the boundaries of the community areas. O'Hare was created from land that was annexed by Chicago in 1956 to control
O'Hare International Airport O'Hare International Airport , typically referred to as O'Hare Airport, Chicago O'Hare, or simply O'Hare, is an international airport located on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Illinois, northwest of the Chicago Loop, Loop business district. ...
. Edgewater was separated from Uptown in 1980 as residents considered being joined to it a detriment to obtaining aid for local improvements. In addition to these two there have been minor changes due to further annexations and additions to the
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Lake Michigan
shoreline.


Use and reception

The areas are used for statistical and planning purposes by such professions as assessors, charities, and reporters. Shortly after their development they were used for all kinds of statistics, including movie theater distribution and juvenile delinquency. Although developed by the University of Chicago, they have been used by other universities in the Chicago area, as well as by the city and regional planners. They have contributed to Chicago's reputation as the "city of neighborhoods", and are argued to break up an intimidating city into more manageable pieces. Chicago was an early adopter of such a system, and most cities in the United States still lacked analogous divisions. The areas do not necessarily correspond to popular imagination of the neighborhoods. For example, the Pilsen and Back of the Yards neighborhoods are much better known than their respective community areas Lower West Side and New City. In the case of New City this was a deliberate choice; Burgess opted for the less common "New City" to name the area as "Back of the Yards" carried a stigma after the publication of
Upton Sinclair Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968) was an American writer, muckraker The muckrakers were reform-minded journalists, writers, and photographers in the Progressive Era The Progressive Era (1896– ...
's ''
The Jungle ''The Jungle'' is a 1906 novel by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968) was an American writer, muckraker The muckrakers were reform-minded journalis ...
'', which made the area notorious for its poor living conditions. Some of these discrepancies are due to names that were common at the time of the adoption of community areas but have since been supplanted by others. The static nature of area boundaries is one of their benefits, but is also problematic at times such as when expressways were built in the mid-20th century and divided neighborhoods without the area boundaries being able to adapt. The concept of a "natural area" that underpinned Park's and Burgess's thinking has also been challenged.


List of community areas


Other geographic divisions of Chicago

Chicago is traditionally divided into the three "sides" of the North Side, West Side, and South Side by the Chicago River. These three sides are represented by the white stripes on the flag of Chicago. The city is also divided into 50 wards for the purpose of electing one alderman each to the
Chicago City Council The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body ...
. These wards have at times generated identities similar to neighborhoods. Unlike community areas, wards are adjusted decennially to account for population shifts. Another method of neighborhood nomenclature in heavily Catholic neighborhoods of Chicago has been to refer to communities in terms of parishes. For example, one might say, "I live in St. Gertrude's, but he is from Saint Ita's."


Notes


References


External links


Community Area 2000 and 2010 Census Population ComparisonsCommunity Areas Map (downloadable in common GIS formats) on City of Chicago Data Portal
{{DEFAULTSORT:Community Areas In Chicago Chicago-related lists Geography of Chicago