Urbanization Chicago Case Study

Pages: 6 (2368 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Urban Studies


Chicago has from its beginnings been a city of immigrants and migrants. In the early days, these were German and Irish immigrants. Around the turn of the 20th century, large waves of immigration from Eastern Europe rolled in made up of Poles, Jews and Ukrainians. The era of World War 1, the 1920s. World War 2 and the post-war period saw a migration from the southern United States of poor whites and blacks to work in the smokestack industries located there. The 1960s, 70s and 80s saw a large emptying out of the city (largely by the white population) as the city deindustrialized. In the 90s, this was mitigated greatly by the service industry boom and the city was a magnet again for people from the U.S. And new immigrants from all over the world, including places never before seen such as India, Pakistan and the Middle East. In the 21st century, especially with the most recent recession, the "hollowing out" experienced has continued unabated in the service sector as many lower paying clerical and service jobs have been outsourced to India and other countries due to prevalence of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, as we shall see, it is hard to see how this will change appreciably in the next 20 years and how this does not bode well for the city, suburbs and the regional infrastructure that until now has kept the region a good one to live in.

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TOPIC: Case Study on Urbanization Case Study Chicago Assignment

Of course, when discussing the urbanization of the Chicago, we must break the area into a discussion of Chicago in the city limits itself and the greater metropolitan area, know more commonly as the "Chicago land" area. This can include places as far north as Kenosha and Racine in southeastern Wisconsin in the north to Gary, Indiana in the east. From the west, it can include areas as far away as far suburban Geneva and St. Charles to far southwestern suburbs such as Aurora, Illinois. A great influence of the growth of suburbia in America from the great growth of suburbs after the Second World War was a net loss of population from Chicago to the suburbs. The term "Collar counties" is usually applied to the five counties that immediately surround the centrally located Cook County in the Chicago metropolitan area, including DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, and Will County. The concept is widely used in the fields of urban planning, public policy circles and in the local media. As and if metropolitan growth begins to extend into the counties outside of the "ring" established by the collar counties, this term may begin to lose some of the utility and meaning it now provides as a descriptor of the Chicago metropolitan region ("Collar Counties" 2004) .

These suburbs grew due to two factors, namely the increasing ability of and desire for individual family housing solutions in the outer "collar counties" and further propelled by the "white flight" of White Americans from the cities in the wake of the riots and urban unrest of the 1960s, in particular incidents like the 1968 police riot against demonstrators outside of the Democratic Convention being held in the city at this time. Such events confirmed in the minds of middle class whites that the city was not a safe to live in. During the decade of the 1990s, Chicago began to experience a major new investment of resources in the central sections of the city and in many other city locations as well. The housing market began to see loft conversions of old industrial buildings, new high-rise apartments as well as condos, new townhouses and building upon individual lots. Needless to say, this slowly began to bring new vitality back to many areas within the city limits. All of the above, combined with local school improvements (such as charter and magnet schools) as well as reduced crime further prompted reinvestment in older cities and towns on the city periphery ("Land Use" 2004).

The in-migration of various ethnic groups are legendary in their historical attraction to the city in the past and the current nostalgia and mystique of the present. These many groups left behind ethnic marks even after their egress from those areas such as Maxwell Street which is still called "Jew town" even though no Jews live there. The Maxwell Street area is a great example of an area where internal migration and ethnic change are legendary where "Jew town" gave way to a thriving, Black Harlem like neighborhood later on. The list is long, with areas such as Germantown in Lincoln Park, formerly Swedish Andersonville, Ukrainian village near the city Loop, the formerly exclusively Irish neighborhood of Bridgeport and the formerly heavy Polish concentration in the South Shore area. Groups such as descendants of Poles are so large that the only city with a larger Polish population is Warsaw, Poland (ibid)..

Out migration has also given close suburban areas such as close suburban Cicero a distinctive and changing ethnic heritage. Formerly made up of "White flight" refugees such as Slavic Poles and Ukrainians, the suburb is now heavily Hispanic. Also, rural areas were swallowed into the city due to "urban sprawl (Gupta 2004, 6)."

Indeed, many can not afford to move and must remain inside of the city in the neighborhoods where they are at present due to the recession. Before the recession, however, there were very marked decreases in the black population due to the demolishing many public housing structures in the city. Indeed, black population rates in the city decreased in the first decade of the 21st century by 17.2%. This population decrease was augmented by middle-class black families that have moved to the suburbs as have many other demographic groups (McCormick Feb. 16, 2011). Notably, many of the emigrants from the city did not probably have property to root them here.

This means that the city population is now driven by natural demographic factors such as birth rates which are declining amongst whites but are still high amongst non-whites. Chicago is not losing population due to emigration, but where it is due to more singles and smaller family sizes among more affluent sectors of the population. The population numbers leaving Cook County have plunged 17% since 2006. On the other hand, the numbers moving have shot up. Given Chicago's high rate of births and immigration, Cook County's population grew during 2008. This reversed recent trends in the other direction. Due to the housing market crash, many people can not sell their homes.(Burns 26 October 2009).

The latest information quoted above reversed fears in 2009 that the city was losing population. Blacks, though still the city's largest racial bloc, now make up 32.4% of the population which is down from 36.4% in 2000. Non-Hispanic Caucasians accounted for 31.7% of the population in 2010. This makes them the second-largest racial or ethnic group.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 17.5% of the city of Chicago's population are foreign born, with many of them being young families with children. This has contributed to the rapid expansion of the region's housing stock and has added to the revitalization of many older neighborhoods the Chicago land area. Much of the money generated by immigrants will be represented in small businesses or in casual or day labor which will not be represented in traditional payroll figures. ("Immigration and Chicago's Growth" May 5, 2006) . Chicago is definitely the magnet for this and much of this is economic, as a good majority of the immigrants are from Mexico, although there is a growing Arab minority due to issues in the Middle East, especially since the 1970s (Hanania 2005, 11) .

An alternative way to estimate the level of employment in the city of Chicago is tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) which compiles some information on self-employed workers. Rather than payroll employment the trends in the early 20th century using the BEA data largely suggest that the Chicago area's employment growth even exceeded the East North Central states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin in the early years of the century's first decade. Indeed, much of the economic impact is off the "grid" and must be measured looking at the real economy.

A 2006 study found that recently arrived Mexican immigrants to Chicago arrive with a wealth of networking, artistic, and cultural assets. These contribute markedly across the board to the economic well being of many Chicago land neighborhoods, organizations and institutions ("Creative Networks: Mexican Immigrant Assets in Chicago" 2006, 5). As noted elsewhere, much of the income is for small businesses or casual day labor, so much of the income is "off the payroll" and not readily visible.

In many ways, Chicago is handling its immigration issues the way it has always has: in a mixed fashion. Unfortunately, local businesses frequently take advantage of illegals by exploiting them for low pay and taking advantage of them in employment situations (especially in the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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