Mar 7, 2023 - News

Loop population expanded during pandemic

Statue on a mound in front of tall buildings

A statue at the south end of Grant Park, which offers a big source of green space for Loop residents. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Thousands moved to the Loop during the pandemic, continuing the area's dominance as the fastest-growing neighborhood in the city, according to a new report commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance.

  • The report further notes that Chicago's downtown is the fastest-growing in the nation.

Why it matters: A transforming Loop could have massive consequences for the way we live, commute, shop, play, learn and work in an area that served mainly as a business district for more than a century.

Context: For the purposes of the report, "the Loop" means the community bordered by the Chicago River on the north and west, Lake Michigan on the east and Roosevelt Road on the south.

  • The report includes data from a a survey of 1,262 people who reside in the Loop, conducted in August and September 2022.

Zoom in: An estimated 46,000 people currently live in the Loop, up from 42,300 in 2020, according to the Alliance housing research and census figures.

By demographics: From 2000 to 2020, the Black population in the Loop fell from 20% to 7%.

  • Latino residents rose from 6% to 10%.
  • Asian residents increased from 10% to 21%.
  • White residents remained dominant at 59%, but that number fell from 62% in 2010.
  • The median age of a Loop resident was 32.6 in 2020, down from 34.1 in 2010.

By paycheck: Almost 75% of Loop households had a median income of $75,000 or more, the report found from census data.

  • 63% of Loop respondents to the Alliance survey said they earn more than $100,000 a year.

The intrigue: The community gained thousands of residents at a time when politicians, news outlets and some Loop citizens complained about growing downtown crime.

  • Actual crime trends are mixed.
  • Still, 69% of survey respondents said they were satisfied with their decision to live in the Loop..

Yes but: Many surveyed also noted they want more green space, grocery stores and outdoor dining.

What they're saying: "We hope the evidence and narrative of this study provides context for how we can all work together to make Chicago's Loop more beneficial for workers, tourists, and residents," CEO of the Alliance Michael Edwards said in a press release.

What's next: The report estimates 5,000 more housing units will open in the Loop over the next five years through "adaptive use of vintage office buildings and new construction."


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