Apr 30, 2024 - Business

Visitors are returning to Chicago's downtown

Photo of people walking on a street

A view of State Street in April 2024. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Chicago's downtown visitors increased by 35% from March 2023 to February 2024, according to new University of Toronto data.

Why it matters: It's a sign of improvement for downtown's sluggish post-pandemic recovery.

The big picture: Among the dozens of North American cities studied, most saw a visitor boost, but Chicago's increase was the second-largest.

Change in downtown visitor activity levels from March 2023 to February 2024
Data: University of Toronto; Note: Downtown defined as the central location with the highest concentration of employment in each metro area; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

How it works: The researchers used anonymized mobile device location data to estimate visitor activity in metro downtowns defined as areas with the highest job concentration.

Zoom in: Our biggest visitor bumps happened in June and July, when Taylor Swift, Beyonce, NASCAR and other big draws hit town.

Meanwhile, weekend foot traffic in the Loop has surpassed 2019 levels for the first time, according to a recent Loop Alliance analysis.

  • The analysis used first-quarter data counts of silhouettes along State Street from Ida B. Wells to Wacker Drive.

Yes, but: Weekday foot traffic from 6am to 5pm reached only 91% of pre-pandemic activity.


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