As most locals know, Chicago spent the first decade of the new Millennium doubling its downtown population while losing nearly 200,000 citywide to out-migration. Not surprisingly, the rhetoric of "two Chicagos" is alive and well. But what of this new geographically-centered city dweller who's helping core areas add vibrancy? A new report by the International Downtown Association (IDA) and Philadelphia Center City District is probing not for socioeconomic markers or demographic makeup, but for the causes behind recent re-densification of urban employment nodes and a standard measure for interurban comparison. In defining the study area as established job centers and the one-mile radius surrounding them, and in collecting raw numbers on jobs, residences, and commuting, the report landed on the 10 employment nodes with the highest live-work percentages (living and working within the mile-radius). Downtown Chicago nabbed the #2 spot after Midtown Manhattan: in 2011, 51.8% of downtown residents worked downtown. The areas surrounding University of Chicago and UIC were also measured, but didn't rank nearly as high.
Population growth in the commercial downtown as well as within a one-mile radius far outpaced every other large employment node in the study. It's refreshing to get a live-work take on downtown's obvious ascendancy, and we welcome any uniform definition that acknowledges adjacent residential areas.
·Report: Downtown Rebirth (pdf) [IDA]
·Defining Downtown [official]