Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 Methodology

In February 2014, The Chicago Community Trust convened a steering committee of public, private and civic nonprofit experts in community planning and development to oversee the development of the three interrelated components of Chicago Neighborhoods 2015: assets of the built environment, plans for the built environment, and trends in the built environment. The Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 steering committee formally convened on five occasions and informally met between meetings. The steering committee allowed for robust input from multiple perspectives on all aspects of Chicago Neighborhoods 2015.

For questions about Chicago Neighborhoods 2015, please contact Michael Davidson, Senior Program Officer in Sustainable Communities, The Chicago Community Trust, at mdavidson@cct.org.

Why Sixteen Districts?

The materials for Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 are organized into 16 “districts” defined by the City of Chicago in its 2013 Citywide Retail Market Analysis. District lines generally reflect natural boundaries or barriers such as expressways, railroad viaducts and historic land uses. The districts create a logical framework for place-based planning citywide that also can accommodate the local context. Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 employs this citywide framework to coordinate and give context to Chicago’s many excellent plans and in doing so identifies where the built environment contributes to local prosperity and where additional investment is needed. The district framework is not meant to replace place-based local planning, but to strengthen it and expand it citywide. Without the 16 district coordinating framework, Chicago’s place-based plans are mapped as follows: Map of placed-based plans and special districts in Chicago (not exhaustive).

The 16 districts of Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 are roughly, but not completely, aligned with one to eight Chicago Community Areas, which are the official boundaries used by the U.S. Census and most socio-economic and journalistic presentations about the city’s neighborhoods.  To be consistent with other reports and studies about Chicago, Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 data are compiled by Community Area or a grouping of Community Areas.

The 16 districts of Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 are roughly, but not completely, aligned with one to eight Chicago Community Areas, which are the official boundaries used by the U.S. Census and most socio-economic and journalistic presentations about the city’s neighborhoods.  To be consistent with other reports and studies about Chicago, Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 data are compiled by Community Area or a grouping of Community Areas.

Project Components

Assets of the built environment.

LISC Chicago engaged more than 150 stakeholders through focus groups to identify assets in each district that could guide capital investment decisions. The LISC team also conducted additional research, administered an online survey to more than 200 individuals, and developed district-specific narratives for background and context. Narratives generally follow the boundaries of the 16 Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 districts, but in cases where a section of the city is split across districts, it is more fully described in one section and referenced in the other. For instance, Chinatown is grouped with the Stockyards District but also referenced in Central Area. Goose Island is featured in Central Area, but is technically also part of Milwaukee Avenue and Lincoln Park Lakeview.

The Summary of Assets also includes two sets of maps: one with locally identified assets, the other showing wards, Special Service Areas, Tax Increment Financing districts, and local business development groups.

Download Summary of Assets Methodology

Summary of community assets by LISC Chicago, with mapping and outreach support from Teska Associates, Inc., and writing by Patrick Barry.

Plans for the built environment.

Metropolitan Planning Council provided synopses of more than 80 citywide and local planning documents since 2000 with stated goals for the built environment. Design guidelines, studies and unfinished plans were not included. Each planning summary includes the plan name, date the plan was made public and/or adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission, the Community Areas, the plan contributors, a brief overview, general and specific recommendations, plan maps and data references, highlighted accomplishments, key unfinished projects, and a hyperlink to the planning document.

Download Plans Synthesis Methodology

Synthesis of plans by Metropolitan Planning Council, with support from PLACE Consulting.

Trends in the built environment.

The Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University collected data and built metrics to help Chicago Neighborhoods 2015 stakeholders understand existing conditions across a range of capital planning issue areas for the 16 districts. These data on conditions can be used to inform the case for intervention strategies and compare needs across districts.

Download Data Trends Methodology

Data analysis by Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University.