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Randy Leonard/MEDILL (Source: 2010 Census)

In the past decade, Chicago's Hispanic population grew and shifted toward the suburbs.

On the move: Mapping Chicago’s Hispanic population shift

by Randy Leonard
March 09, 2011


Randy Leonard/MEDILL (Data source: Rob Paral & Associates)

The 30th Ward Hispanic population increased from 66 to 74 percent of the whole in the last 10 years.


Randy Leonard/MEDILL (Data source: Rob Paral & Associates)

These 14 Wards have a significant Hispanic population; in 11, Latinos constitute an outright majority.


Randy Leonard/MEDILL (Data source: Rob Paral & Associates)

The 13th Ward Hispanic population increased from 41 to 71 percent in the past decade.


Randy Leonard/MEDILL (Data source: Chicago Board of Elections)

Hispanic-dominated wards saw little change in the February election.

Randy Leonard/MEDILL (data source: 2000 and 2010 census

See where Chicago's Hispanic population is shifting.

Hispanic wards at the polls.

Hispanic-majority wards do not always elect Hispanic aldermen. Ald. Ed Burke has maintained his hold on the 14th despite an 88 percent Hispanic population there.

“The voters don’t look like the population,” community analyst Rob Paral said. Turnout is lower among Hispanic voters. One reason is residency status, another is that lower-income communities have lower voting percentages, he said.

In February’s municipal election, Chicago’s Hispanic-majority wards saw almost no change.

Voters elected incumbents in all but two of the 11 wards with Hispanic majorities, and also in the 1st Ward, which was Latino-dominated in 2000 but is no longer.

Three of the incumbents ran unopposed. The only new face among the 12 wards belonged to Marty Quinn, who ran opposed to succeed Frank Olivo in the 13th Ward, home of Illinois Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan.


Quinn, a top Madigan lieutenant, originally faced three opponents; all succumbed to ballot challenges, according to DePolitics 2010/2011, a website produced by DePaul University instructor Mike Conklin.

The only remaining opportunity for change is in the 25th Ward, in which incumbent Daniel Solis fell just short of a majority of the vote Feb. 22. Solis will face Cuahutemoc Morfin, vice president of the Pilsen chamber of commerce, in the April 5 runoff.

As the number of Chicago Latinos increased over the past decade, areas dominated by Hispanic majorities shifted away from downtown.

The city’s overall population continues to shrink, but the Latino community is nearing the size of both non-Hispanic white and black populations in the city.

Several factors are influencing the Hispanic population shift, said Rob Paral, a community development analyst.

Shifting populations can affect ward politics, especially because the City Council crafted current ward boundaries with Hispanics in mind. By law, the council must redraw the ward map by December, based on the populations identified in the 2010 Census.

“It is a difficult task because you can draw lines a lot of different ways,” said Virginia Martinez, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Martinez’s group advocates nationwide for Latinos. In 1992 the fund sued to overturn a newly drawn Chicago ward map, arguing that it dissected Hispanic populations in a way that deprived them of representation in City Hall.

During the drafting of the current map in 2001, the council crafted the 10th, 14th, 30th and 33rd wards to have Hispanic majorities, increasing the number of Latino-dominated wards to 11. Members of the fund said the change was not enough to reflect the increase in the Hispanic population.

Former Ald. Michael Wojcik, who cast the lone vote against the 2001 map, said at the time that those boundaries split apart his historically Polish community in the 30th Ward.

In 2003, Wojcik vacated his seat and 30th Ward voters elected Ariel Reboyras to replace him. The ward increased from 67 to 74 percent Hispanic in the last decade.

Despite this year’s election of a new mayor and turnover on the City Council, redistricting issues are the same, Martinez said last week. Incumbents seek to hold on to their voting bloc, she said.

“We always have the same concerns,” she said.

Her group presses for district and ward lines that consolidate Hispanic majority populations and avoid “a division of the Latino political powerhouse [and] fracturing a community,” she said.

According to recently released census data, the city saw a 7 percent drop in non-Hispanic whites and a 21 percent decrease in blacks since 2000; the Latino population increased by 3 percent to 753,644.

Now whites and blacks each make up 32 percent of the city’s population and Hispanics account for 29 percent. Meanwhile, the city’s Hispanic populations have shifted, changing the makeup of the wards drawn to give them representation.

A Medill map analysis of 2000 and 2010 census data shows that concentrations of Hispanic-majority populations on the Northwest Side and West Side of the city crept toward the city’s border.

With gentrification and condominium development south of Roosevelt Road, white populations are moving toward downtown, Paral said.

The Hispanic populations decreased in some areas, such as South Lawndale, Paral said, because of children growing up and moving away combined with a lack of new immigrants.

In other areas, such as in the 13th and 14th Wards east of Midway Airport, aging white populations moved out of single-family homes, leaving desirable and affordable housing.

“That’s where Latino families with children have been moving,” Paral said. The Hispanic population in the 13th Ward increased 95 percent in the past decade.

The shift changed just two wards that Latino majorities dominate. As they did in 2000, Hispanics make up the majority in 11 wards, though they no longer dominate in the 1st Ward and now have a majority in the 13th, according to census data compiled from census data by Paral’s firm, Rob Paral and Associates.

The 13th, 18th and 23rd wards on the Southwest Side saw between an 89 to 109 percent increase in their Hispanic populations. The 19th Ward saw a 58 percent increase in Latinos.

Northwest Side wards 36, 38 and 45 saw Hispanic populations increase by about two-thirds, with a three-quarters increase in the 41st Ward.

Downtown’s 2nd, 4th and 34th wards saw increases between 53 and 82 percent, despite the general shift west across the city.

North lakefront wards saw the greatest drop in Hispanics, with a 21 to 42 percent decrease in wards 1, 25, 26, 32, 35, 46, 47, 48 and 49.  

Along with the 11 majority wards, the Hispanic populations are now almost even in size with the white minority populations in the 11th and 23rd wards.

Hispanics now make up 29 percent of the city’s population, but just 22 percent of the wards are Latino-majority. Because Hispanics make up more of the city’s population, Paral expects the council will create more Latino-majority wards.

“You’ll definitely see an increase there,” he said. The question of how many new wards will be added remains to be determined and could result in legal battles, Paral said.

Martinez said her group is working on state redistricting issues and will likely turn it’s attention on ward boundaries in late May.