#imfromlakeview?

#imfromlakeview?

February 25th, 2010  |  Published in chicago  |  1 Comment

I live in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.  When I tell people where I live, I’m often  asked “why Lakeview?” or given a glum, “oh.  That’s cool.”  My friends in Chicago don’t live in the neighborhood.  People think of it for the college town style bars in Wrigleyville, or going to The Alley when they were teenagers to get punk gear. I find that I’ve started to preempt the “Why Lakeview?” question with a quick explanation that I moved to that neighborhood because it had good neighborhood public schools and I moved to Chicago with 2 school-aged roommates.  This explanation seems to satisfy most people, but it doesn’t resonate.  Before this move, public schools aren’t something I would have factored into my neighborhood choice either.

When I talk to long-time Chicagoans who live in other neighborhoods, it makes me anxious.  In a city so defined by racial and economic segregation, I worry that people will think of me only in terms of perceptions of my neighborhood.  I will become only the privilege or ability or ability derived from privilege that gives me the means to pay the neighborhood’s above average rents.  And that is true, it is a part of my reality and who I am, but it’s not everything, just as the mostly white, mostly young, mostly professional folks living in condos are a part of the reality of lakeview, but not everything.

In terms of income, Lakeview looks like the table:

Income Diversity (by Families) in LAKE VIEW
1970 1980 1990 2000
# % # % # % # %
Low Income 9192 33% 7843 39% 3987 26% 2520 18%
Moderate Income 11553 42% 7480 37% 4962 32% 3305 23%
High Income 6748 25% 4807 24% 6325 41% 8393 59 %
Total 27492 100% 20131 100% 15274 100% 14219 100%
View 2005 Income Diversity Data

View 2005 Estimates and 2010 Projections

Note: Low income = families with annual income < $38,622, moderate income = families with annual income $38,622 – $78,825, families with annual income > $78,825.

Read full data and analysis.

In terms of race, the neighborhood looks like this:

Note that there’s no Latino group because the way that the 2000 census (and, I guess, subsequent EASI surveys) treat Spanish-speaking people is that they’re counted in the other racial groups. I’m told that most report themselves as white or other. The only breakdown of Latino or Spanish speaking people is relative to white folks who don’t identify as Latino or Hispanic. For Lakeview, this looks like this:

I’ve decided that it is reductive to, by my discomfort in owning up to where I live, define the place where I live only by the 59 percent of families that have high incomes or the nearly 79 percent that are white.  This ignores the 18 percent of low income families who found some way to work themselves into the neighborhood, perhaps in order to send their kids to a functional, vibrant public school.  It ignores the queer youth of color who come to the neighborhood so they can be out; and institutions like the Links Hall dance and performance space; the Chicago Womens Health Center, the LGBTQ community center, Center on Halsted; and  the Lakeview Action Coalition.

I can’t really say what all these parts mean, whether they’re bad or good, just that they’re part of the neighborhood.  When we think of place only by its biggest or loudest components we think of the way that they change in frightening terms, as one thing consuming or threatening another, instead of transformation or evolution.  I want to see the places in my life for everything that they are and might be.

Note: All the data from this post is from the fabulous Metro Chicago Information Center.  The photo is from Google Maps.