Chicago Population Lowest Since 1910

UPDATED 02/16/11 6:35 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — New U.S. Census data shows the population of Chicago has dropped to its lowest levels since 1910 figures.

Census data showed the population for the city proper in 2010 was 2,695,598.

The last Census that showed a lower figure for the city’s population was in 1910, when the population was 2,185,283. In 1920, the population was modestly higher than 2010, at 2,701,705.

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The population was also down 6.9 percent percent since 2000, when the Census recorded 2,896,016 people. A total of 200,418 people left the city in that time, according to Census data.

The 1990s, when the city grew 4 percent, had been Chicago’s first decade of growth in 50 years.

The city’s African-American population decreased particularly sharply. Compared with 2000, Chicago’s black population is down 18.1 percent, to 872,286 people, driving a decrease in the city’s total population from 2.9 million to 2.7 million.

The white population fell even more drastically, by 29.7 percent to 854,717.

The city’s Hispanic population grew about 3 percent.

Blacks remain the single largest group in the city at slightly more 32 percent. Whites make up slightly less than 32 percent of the city and Hispanics account for about 29 percent.

While young white professionals have moved into Chicago, they don’t offset the continuing loss of mainly older whites from ethnic neighborhoods, Chicago-based demographer Rob Paral said. He attributed part of the black migration to the demolition of some of the city’s notorious projects, like Cabrini-Green.

Many blacks are leaving the state of Illinois as a whole, experts said, for some of the same reasons people have long left northern, industrial states.

The city also lost black and white residents in the 2000 Census, but a steep growth in the Hispanic population helped fuel a population increase a decade ago.

Overall, Cook County’s population dwindled to just below 5.2 million, down by 3.4 percent since 2000.

Statewide, the strongest growth was in counties around Cook County, such as Lake (whose population grew by 9.2 percent), Will (up 34.9 percent) and Kane (up 27.5 percent), according to the census. Other strong growth counties included DeKalb, where population grew 18 percent, Champaign, where population increased by 11.9 percent, and McLean, where the population grew 12.7 percent.

New congressional district boundaries will be drawn along with state legislative districts based in part on census data, but it’s too early to say how that will play out, said State Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat involved in the redistricting process.

Areas that have lost population are more likely to lose representation, but the data themselves won’t be the only determining factors, he said.

Others include constitutional protections for minorities, and, of course, politics.

Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady fully expects Democrats, who control the legislature, to redraw lines — in long bipartisan tradition — to benefit themselves.

One possibility is that census data showing more Hispanics now living in Chicago suburbs may lead Democrats in Chicago to extend their election districts into those areas, Brady said. That could even result in Democrats simultaneously pulling in additional suburbanite Republicans.

“But these guys are smart,” he said about the Democratic majority that now has the upper hand in redistricting. “They are smart enough to do the best job for themselves.”

Chicago has been the nation’s third largest city since being surpassed by Los Angeles in 1984 estimates. Final Census figures for the fourth largest city, Houston, are not out yet, but in 200, the population was about 2.28 million – only about 400,000 fewer than the latest numbers for Chicago.

The population of Chicago peaked at 3.62 million in 1950, and the list of the nation’s largest cities looked much different back then. New York still ranked at the top, but Philadelphia was third, Los Angeles fourth, and Detroit fifth. In 2009 estimates, Philadelphia had dropped to sixth after being surpassed by Phoenix, and Detroit to eleventh with fewer than 1 million people.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Mike Finnerty

    Of course it’s down! Fewer and fewer people can afford to pay the exorbitant property taxes enacted by the corrupt government of CROOK COUNTY!

  • Mike Diz

    Gonna get worst as time comes. Taxes are outrageous downtown, parking cost increase, over all cost of living is not worth living downtown. I am looking for a way out myself. Crook county is right Mike F.

  • ron

    Well, what this little article doesn’t say is who is leaving. It’s mostly the do nothing, government dependent, welfare check cashing dirt bags who are leaving and that’s perfectly fine. I’d rather have a smaller densed productive city than a sprawled out metro with a bunch of welfare babies. This is a bittersweet blessing. Now all the ghettos can relocate to Atlanta and the suburbs, good luck with that!

    • gee-reg

      I sure hope you are right. If it is the do nothing free money grabbing dependent on the government to do every thing welfare loving baby making dope smoking link card loving progressive democrats then that is a good thing. And I hope they take rev, Jackson and father Flakey with them

    • Fred

      ron & gee-reg, the city’s ghettos may become more numerous and apparent as never before, as soon as the new mayor takes office. Have you considered (predicted) the overall impact of people vacating the city while–at the same time–both city and county governments are cutting resources, raising taxes, and not truly supporting the creation of steady jobs? The implications here are GREAT!

      If you need a glimpse of Chicago’s possible future, I give you two words: “Gary, Indiana.” Amazingly, on a clear day we Chicagoans can see the outline of Gary across Lake Michigan. Perhaps it’s a glimpse into the future.

      Elevate your faith in the Holy God, Jehovah, and do the will of the Lord so you will be saved from these travesties. Trust in God, not in man. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

      • Philip J. Wayne

        What the heck are you talking about…….the city has intentionally razed all the projects in Chicago and it worked….50000 poor blacks headed South and to the cheap collar counties…that is what the city wanted….there are 50000 right there..the population migration is wealthy whites and blacks moving back to the city and blacks and hispanics moving to the exterior collar counties. Fact is, if it weren’t for chicago there wouldn’t be nine and a half million people in metro Chicago….Rahm Emmanuel is going to b e a great mayor.

  • Tweets that mention Census Shows Chicago Population Down 7 Percent « CBS Chicago --

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  • Philip J. Wayne

    Remember, most of the high rise tenaments have been torn down the last ten years and the people relocated often out of Chicago…there’s 50, 000 people right there. The student population in chicago is over a 80,000 in downtown Chicago…those people don’t get counted here because many are not from Chicago, yet they are residents.

  • Philip J. Wayne

    Many people didn’t fill out their census forms because they felt that it was an invasion of privacy.

  • VictorE

    Maybe King Richard could put X’s in all of the roads that lead out of town to stop the mass exodus of tax refugees from the city.

  • cut off the welfare

    Quit giving out welfare and free medical and education and the hispanic popualtion will drop drastically.Cut them off and they will go home. this is why we are over populated is because the more babies they have the more free handouts they kid.Give the welfare to AMERICAN senior citizens and vets that need not to somebody that wants make a living having babies and draining the system dry the population would drop by millions.There would be millions of jobs for AMERICANS and a ton of money we would save not to mention the traffic that it would reduce/pollutation.

  • southside

    Gee, why are folks leaving??? Could it be bad schools, bad roads, bad infrastructure, high crime, higher taxes, and incompetent leadership? The exodus will grow as the free government handouts get cut in future budgets.

    • Philip J. Wayne

      Southside….get your facts straight…..Chicago’s intrastructure is rated highest among major American cities…..Chicago has the lowest crime rate of any major American city…..The schools are still rated above most large American city…before you start spouting facts make sure they are correct.

  • Jim

    Cost of living is insane in Chicago. The politicians keep buying votes by giving out tax money to the poor. The people are speaking, but the politicians don’t care what you say as they are staying fat and happy with their big salaries and huge pensions.



    • Philip J. Wayne

      Bay Bye…don’t let the door hit you on the way out…I think we are losing one of the idiots you are talking about….thank god.


      The worst state to live in? I live downtown and pay high rent but that is why I went to college – so I can afford to do so. If that makes me a yuppie then so be it but I worked my way to the top, it didn’t just fall in my lap. I have not once expected a handout from the government nor do I expect it. I wish you luck on your move BSTARR.

      • Jim

        The point is that this state is quickly moving toward socialism instead of capitalism. If you worked hard all of your life to get to where you are why should you be forced to pay for the corruption of the city and for all the people that have never held a job in their life (with no plan to)? Too many people turn a blind eye and those people are the true problem in Chicago. This city has the potential to be something great, but politicians are holding the city back. Why not live in a place where your tax dollars are used efficiently and thus you get to keep more of YOUR money? Because it’s not the Chicago way.

  • Callie

    Gee, you think people are mass exoding because of the high taxes and the high price tag on EVERYTHING in Chicago? My current city sticker is 20.00-I am so happy I left 5 years ago.

  • Philip J. Wayne

    CBS ….could it be that many people didn’t return Census forms because they believe it is an invasion of privacy……I know many who didn’t turn in that form for this reason…..secondly…..the projects with 50000 poor blacks were razed during this timeframe….most could not afford to live in the city and exited to the cheap collar counties….the fact is Chicago’s greatest rise to global status has been the last ten years and especailly the last five…so what is all the talk about…fact is that there are nine and a half million people in Chicagoland….and if it weren’t for the presence of a vibrant city they wouldn’t be here.

  • bob

    Chicago is such a RATHOLE who want’s to move there? Why do you think the force police and firemen to live in the city like Russia forced people to live in East Germany behind a wall? The Chicago wall is their jobs. Want to keep your job you must dwell in the city.

  • vincent t.

    chicago has “elbow room” now. That alone beats New York City anytime!!!

  • Green Line

    Lets be real. Chicago’s population drop has nothing to do with taxes. NYC and Los Angeles have some of the highest taxes in the country. And have you ever checked out a property tax bill in Houston? It’s outrageous!! So it’s not taxes. Look closer. Chicago has land area at 225 square miles. That may sound large, but not when compared to LA (464), Houston (580), Phoenix (518), Jacksonville (766), any many other cities. Those cities also have the advantage of being in the Sun Belt. However, Indianapolis gained in population; it’s cold there in winter, and it does not offer half the amenities Chicago does. But yet it gained in population. That’s because Indy has 365 square miles of land. NYC has kinda small land area (300 sq mi.) like Chicago and its cold in the winter there, yet it gained population. That’s because NYC is on an aggressive population-growth agenda and it will put in a midrise or highrise anywhere it can fit one for just about any developer that asks. So lets look at this: Chicago has not really allowed any new tall buildings (10 stories or higher) outside of the central area. The only tall buildings outside of the central area are the ones that have been there for decades. If a developer proposes one for the North Side past North Ave, or on the South Side past Cermak, they have to go through so much red tape from neighborhood residents, that the developer usually gives up; or are declined by the city due to resident protests. But if someone choses to live or buy in a city with highrises, they should not be complaining about future highrise, especially from a city that’s losing population. Chicago needs to take the position once again (like it used to have) and build tall buildings over many parts of the city, not just downtown, and not cater to the whims of complaining neighborhood residents on this issue. There should really be a mix of highrises and houses on the North Side east of the Chicago River, and a mix on the South Side east of the Dan Ryan. On the West Side, the mix should go as far west as Western Ave. Streets like Broadway, Western Ave, Devon, Lawrence, Irving Park, Diversey, and North Ave on the North Side are screaming for taller buildings. So is Stoney Island, Cottage Grove, State, Cermak, 35th, Pershing, 43rd, Garfield, 63rd, 71st, and 79th on the South Side. All these streets can be teeming with midrise/highrise structures. Save the entire Northwest and Southwest Sides strictly for low-rise structures and houses. If this is not the direction the city will take, then the other option is to annex several suburbs to bring its square mileage up to at least 350. Even this would STILL make it substantially smaller than those aforementioned cities!!! But this will give Chicago greater land area to do developments, even low-rise, that would count toward the city’s population. But if Chicago won’t aggresively build taller buildings in its current land area like NYC, or won’t expand its boundaries to a large area like Los Angeles, then why should anyone be surprised when census numbers are reached that the population hasn’t grown? We are currently like San Francisco; small land area so the population fluctuates up and down.

  • Who Cares

    Details details, in our dumbed down society nobody notices the details. The non-Hispanic white population dropped from 907,166 to 854,717, which is a 5.78% drop, not 29.7% as the story states. Lots of intelligent hard working people don’t have jobs while lots of dolts do. Where is the editor or fact checker here. As for Chicago, it peaked in the 40’s and early 50’s and has been and continues to be on the downward slide since.

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