Originally Posted by the urban politician
^ Sorry, but I"m done with this excuse.
It's not about the count being wrong.
It's about EVERY count showing that the city is disappearing, and it's disappearing fast.
This is a crisis. And nobody in the city's leadership is acknowledging it.
The city of big shoulders is basically dying. I am finally going to say it. And I'm perhaps one of the biggest Chicago boosters on this forum.
This is basically nonsense. Chicago isn't "emptying out fast" and it isn't "dying" and no count or projection shows the city to be "dissapearing."
I'm sure you've read this three part series in the reader, but you should revisit it: http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdccensus1.php
(part three offers the most insight)
In the last 10 years, the income per capita in the core area has about doubled while it's also been one of the fastest growing communities of over 100,000 people in the country. Communities adjacent to the core on the west and south sides have seen rapid and marked and continued improvements. The entire lakefront, north and south, is trending in a positive direction. Established areas that have lost density have lost it due yuppies living alone and SFHs replacing multiunits.
The Northwest side, along the Blue line is rapidly improving. The city is losing ethnic white population due to demographic trends--old Poles and Germans are dying or retiring to Florida, as ever--while recent college grads move here at a clip that most other cities are gagging for. Chicago built 200 high rises in the last 12 years and it isn't over built
. There's solid demand for more rental space and more office space. Schools are dramatically improved and improving--there are now dozens of excellent public options--and more middle-class children are being raised here than in a generation and a half.
TUP, you are emotionally invested and are having manic feelings about relative rates of improvement. Chicago is awesome and it's getting better. You want it to be the most awesomest
at everything and it's not going to happen. The U.S. is the Roman empire and New York is Rome. San Francisco is the capital of the hottest industry in a generation. Houston and Phoenix are growing fast and are going to keep growing fast. Washington DC will always have government jobs. Some places can be as great as Chicago and Chicago will still be great. Places that are base-rotten, like Charlotte or Dallas, can improve at a rapid clip for a generation while Pittsburgh stagnates and will still never have half of Pittsburgh's quality.
Boston and Seattle and San Francisco are nice little cities; good luck to them. If size is all that matters, once they triple in size they will be as big as Chicago. I hope that someday Washington DC has half as much cool stuff as any of them, as I'd love to see more great urban areas in the U.S. Houston and Phoenix are two of the crummiest places to live on the continent. They aren't cold, but the weather sucks. Houston, especially, is benefiting from oil prices and is still equilibrating positively post-NAFTA. Houston may benefit from those trends for another 20-years, but it will still be hellish and ugly and full of chain restaurants.
It used to be everything was made in Chicago, because it had to be. That's not true anymore and a big part of the city has lost its reason for existence. Parts of southern Wisconsin and Michigan, Northern Ohio; Western PA and NY have the same problem. That's not something that's going to change. The large parts of Chicago that are poor and black are not doing well and there's no sign that that is going to change soon. If there was an easy fix, someone would have done it. It's open for investment right now, but no one is going to really invest in Englewood for a long time. People that can leave those communities are going to continue to do so and it is going to affect the city's population figures. So what? No one wants Chicago to shrink, but your unstated major premise is that a little growth is fantastic and a little shrinkage is disastrous is simply untrue and, just as importantly, unsupported. Phoenix's and Houston's growth has not improved the conditions for its residents; they are worse. Pittsburgh or DC's shrinkage has not made things worse; it is markedly better in those cities recently.
You can do a thought experiment to prove this to yourself. Let's say that Chicago had just undergone a five-year boom. Population went up by 250,000 and incomes rose 20%. The core is full of additional infill. International tourists flock here for cultural attractions and more of the west and south sides have become gentrified. You're happy. Now Chicago annexes Gary and Hammond and then everyone subsequently flees those communities for five years. During the next census and incomes and population look to be about flat. Was the boom not real? Is the city not a better place? Why would real improvement in the central area be discounted because of problems across some arbitrarily drawn line?
Chicago has a lot going for it that isn't going away. Its surrounded by incredibly productive land, unlike say Charlotte or Atlanta or Dallas. It has unlimited water resources, better than any other city in the world. It's the center of the second largest region on the continent, by population. The U.S. is the world's largest economy and it has infrastructure connectivity to that economy far better than any other city. Chicago has an enviable urban form, excellent transit and walkability and the only airport in the U.S. that's really capable of significant expansion. Chicago has hundreds of thousands of college students and two of the best universities in the world. Besides the Loop, there is only one other place in the hemisphere where a business can locate and access a talent pool of 10,000,000. Being in a bad mood doesn't change those things.