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How to easily find the development activity happening in your neighborhood

An updated map tool from Chicago Cityscape allows users to easily crawl permits and census data

Demolition of the old Children’s Memorial Hospital campus in Lincoln Park.
Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Brule Laker

There’s a lot of development activity happening all around Chicago right now. From the numerous demolitions, work on adaptive reuse projects, and new construction activity underway, it’s challenging to keep up with everything happening all around the city. However, to help make the task of keeping tabs on development activity easier while also being able to explore census data, Chicago Cityscape has updated its Community Data Explorer which allows users to draw maps and focus in on the data for the outlined area.

The tool looks to be something that would be useful for researchers or academics looking to learn more about neighborhood dynamics and the changes in demographics and where development comes into play. There are also hundreds of defined areas that Chicago Cityscape has mapped and saved for easy reference. In describing the purpose of the tool, Chicago Cityscape suggests that the new map tool is the “holy grail of getting community data” for being able to map places and communities that don’t perfectly overlap with the U.S. Census Bureau’s boundaries for census tracts.

For example, we selected a big chunk of the Lincoln Park neighborhood to explore the development and census data in the area. The results for the area we highlighted returned over 5,000 projects at an estimated combined amount of nearly $650 million worth of development activity.

By clicking on the “Open this new Place” button just to the right side of the map, the tool produces a list showing the most recent construction and demolition permits. This data can be sorted by estimated cost and date.

By selecting the “Show community data” button, you can have the tool overlay census tracts on the map you drew to further explore community data and census information. The results will produce a number of census tracts, but you can highlight only the ones in your map to find more info in those areas.

In the map that we drew, we can see that census tracts 710 through 714 fall in the area we’ve highlighted.

By clicking on an individual census tract, a new page will open, showing all kinds of data from demographics to income to preferred methods of commuting to work.

It’s an interesting and easy to use tool and data set for anyone looking to simply learn more about their neighborhood or for researchers who are seeking comprehensive information about recent development activity and census data.