For purposes of the report, the Census Bureau defined “downtown” as the area within a 2-mile radius of the location of the city hall in the principal city in a metropolitan area.
Chicago’s downtown population grew from 133,426 to 181,714, an increase of 48,288 or 36.2%. New York came in second with a population increase of 37,422, followed by Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
Chicago’s downtown growth is impressive, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Chicago had large tracts of vacant land and quite a few underutilized loft buildings within two miles of City Hall, an asset that wasn’t available to other cities.
The Census report also notes that Chicago’s inner-ring suburbs lost population while its outer ring suburbs grew rapidly. The metro area as a whole had a population increase of 362,789 from 2000 to 2010.