Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's the difference between community areas and neighborhoods?

A question worth discussing as it was on our tour on 75th Street. It's something I wondered myself. It seems as if neighborhoods are a different animal from these community area.

For instance Chatham is said to go up to about 75th Street to the north and 87th to the south. Then from the Dan Ryan to Cottage Grove from west to east. However the Chatham community area ends at 79th Street on the north and ends at railroad tracks on the south end and extends beyond Cottage Grove and the Dan Ryan from east to west.

Since what's considered the Chatham neighborhood effectively straddles two specific community area particularly Chatham and Greater Grand Crossing. When this happens some might point to the division of a community. Of course a good question would have to be what type of division.

According to wikipedia (not that it's the best source, however it's readily available) community areas are used for census data or for the purposes of urban planning. It's entirely possible that if Chatham for instance engaged in some massive urban planning such as what happened in Englewood in the late 1960s or Hyde Park in the late 1950s or early 60s a segment of the neighborhood that isn't officially part of the community area could be left out.

Well it's a theory, but for certain something needs to be clarified between community areas and neighborhoods. One could be treated more officially than the other. And for the neighborhood well since they may not be treated as official it's possible that real estate agents can play with that distinction and give a name for an area that may never have existed. Certainly doing so giving such an area a great marketing appeal.

Any comments on this?


  1. The 77 official Community Areas were set up for research purposes by sociologists from the U of C in the early 1900s. To do research over time, it's useful to have areas with boundaries that don't change - and all other boundaries, especially political ones, tend to change every 10 years or so. Some of the CAs correspond well to neighborhoods (Hyde Park, for instance), while others never really did (New City = Back of the Yards, Canaryville, etc). Community Areas are generally not used for any purposes other than to organize data for research.

  2. Yes they have played with this information. They include Burnside, Park manor, Washington Park, West Chatham in Chatham listings. They also have created a comunity called Bronzeville. This is actually the Douglas neighborhood

  3. Freddrenna M. LyleOctober 25, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    When these neighborhoods were integrating, Blacks were not allowed to join the Park Manor Neighborhood Association. They were however allowed to join Chatham's, so several residents who lived south of 75th St. did in fact join the CAPCC and thus the area from 75th -79th became a part of the Chatham community through usage and custom. Also, these neighborhoods existed prior to the construction of the Dan Ryan expressway. The State built the expressway splitting Chatham, thus boundaries that extend across the Dan Ryan.


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