By Terry Dean of the Austin Weekly News
Austin’s population has declined by more than 14,000 residents, down to approximately 103,304 from more than 117,000 recorded in the 2000 Census, according to newly released data.
Despite the 12 percent drop, Austin remains Chicago’s largest communitywith a population of more than 100,000 residents – the only one among the city’s 77 communities with 100,000-plus residents – but not by much. Lakeview on the city’s North Side is the next most populated area with just over 99,500 residents. Its population increased by nearly 5,000 residents over the 2000 Census.
Other West Side neighborhoods saw their numbers either jump or decline. Neighboring North Lawndale saw its population drop by about 5,500, from nearly 42,000 residents in 2000 to about 36,000 now. North Lawndale’s population has steadily declined since the 1970s.
East Garfield Park saw a slight increase of 34 residents over the last decade – to just under 21,000 residents. West Garfield Park, however, saw a steep decline, from about 23,000 residents to 19,000. Another sizable drop was in South Lawndale – about 91,000 residents in 2000 to a population of roughly 77,000.
Overall, the city’s black population fell by 11 percent, according to the Chicago News Cooperative, a nonprofit city news Web site. That drop, the site notes, is across the West and South sides.
The two areas have experienced a dramatic shift in its black population in the last decade. Part of that likely stems from the demolition of public high rises – like Cabrini Green on the North Side, the Robert Taylor Homes on the South Side and the Jane Addams Homes on the Near West – with many residents moving to the suburbs.
Several West Side areas, though, had a low response rate in the 2000 Census – more than 50 percent in some cases – which caused federal officials to do a massive campaign last year to get people to complete and return their census forms. Austin, West and East Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Near West Side and most of Humboldt Park all had a 50 percent non-response rate.