“The West Side is the Best Side,” say residents of this vast collection of neighborhoods, comparing their home to the South Side communities where African Americans have also lived for many years. The West Side, indeed, has just as storied a history, hosting one of the city’s first African-American communities back in the 1850s, along Lake and Kinzie Streets, and it remains an important and politically powerful part of Chicago and the region.
Today’s West Side is home to 229,000 people in five distinct neighborhoods, from East and West Garfield Park to North Lawndale, Austin, and Humboldt Park. The planning district is predominantly African American except for a few diverse enclaves in Austin and the Latino portions of Humboldt Park. With about one-third of its population living in poverty, the West Side is one of the poorest districts in Chicago. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]