Chicago had largest downtown population growth from 2000 to 2010

Our local media have been taking pride in a recent US Census report (PDF) showing Chicago as the metro area with the largest numeric increase in “downtown” population between 2000 and 2010.

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.


  • the urban politician 6 years


    All of the vacant and underutilized land in the world doesn’t make a difference if there isn’t demand.

    My point being, Chicago’s downtown population growth is very impressive, I would go so far as to say extraordinary. Clearly the city has its share of challenges, but the core of the city is without doubt drawing people in droves. The presence of all of that underutilized land simply made it easier to accommodate that demand.

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