Median incomes around CTA stations; what's up with Sedgwick?

Median income Red Line stations

The median income for the census tract containing the Red Line Fullerton station is $100,341 – the highest of any Red Line station. The lowest median income on the Red Line is around the 47th Street station – $11,610.

Meanwhile, on the Brown Line, the high and low median incomes are at neighboring stations: $103, 609 at Chicago, and $13,185 at Sedgwick.

You can find these and other fascinating stats on the median incomes in the census tracts of all CTA rail stations at the Donkey Hottie blog. As the blogger notes: “In short, the graphs affirm most of what we already knew. Though I also was not expecting the Blue Line to be so much nicer between Western and Grand than it is in the Loop.”

He even tried to explain the big dive in median income between Chicago and Sedgwick:

I can only guess that there’s a residual effect of Cabrini-Green’s ghost that’s pulling that number down. Even so, however, the Sedgwick census tract is bordered by North, Sedgwick, Division, and Larrabee, meaning that it’s one tract to the east of Cabrini-Green (which was west of Larrabee) and one tract to the north of the Frances Cabrini Homes, which are south of Division.

He devoted an entire post to the Sedgwick question.

Check it out. It’s fun to at least see the median income at your rail stop.


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  • It's not Cabrini-Green or what's left of it that causes the drop, it's the Marshall Field Garden Apartments which are nothing but poor people just a block south of the station.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Yep, exactly right. There is quite a bit of ghetto still in that area even with the high rises gone.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Not only that but a lot of the townhouses immediately across North Avenue from the station are low-income as well.

  • In many areas over the last 10 years, CHA has been building entire neighborhoods in conjunction with private housing developers. Blocks and blocks of brand new 2 story row houses where every other one is owned by a purchaser through the private developer who pays quite a bit for brand new housing in somewhat near downtown neighborhoods. The others(also every other one) is owned by CHA with a tenant residing in them. These new economically(and otherwise) mixed neighborhoods can be seen in areas such as the Racine/Roosevelt area, and just West of Western and North of the Eisenhower expressway.

    This new style of mixed CHA/private housing was first started as an experiment and can be seen on the East side of Larabee North and South of Blackhawk with some units on Mohawk. Some older low-rise CHA only housing is bounded by Blackhawk, Hudson, Evergreen, and Sedgwick. There are also a few 10-12 story lower income apartment buildings and other smaller mixed economic developments in the Sedgwick tract where the developers gave 10-15% for low income use, just prior to CHA's endeavors here. Looking at the higher density lower income buildings(not just Marshall Field Garden Apartments) and understanding that this was the first neighborhood to get either direct CHA movements or indirect movements(those wishing to move out of Cabrini Green to something more affordable and relatively safer), it is definitely a high density area of former Cabrini Green residents, with comparatively little owned/higher income housing in it.

    This area was one of the first areas to attract higher incomes(with new housing at more affordable prices) and near poverty income to create mixed income and desegregated neighborhoods and was touted as a success where neighbors naturally learned from each other. It also led to the ongoing development of more such neighborhoods in Chicago, including those mentioned just outside of the Sedgwick tract.

  • I don't have anything on Sedgwick (the town houses looked upper class to me, but I don't know who lives in them), but the study did give me ammunition on the argument that "if you build rapid transit, economic development will follow" is bogus when applied to the South side. If that argument were true, developers would be flocking to all the vacant former CHA land near 47th.

    The Green Line numbers for the comparable area indicate that there is some development occurring in Bronzeville, but also may be skewed by the loss of population and that development there might be in spite of the L, since the boardings per station are low (at least for the next two weeks).

  • In reply to jack:

    I think the issue with the South Side (and much of the West Side, for that matter) is largely because the area became so bombed out looking that both large residential and commercial developers realize it would be extremely difficult to be successful no matter what the project. These aren't exactly the places you'll feel comfortable walking to the 'L' in, these are places that need a massive overhaul that no one developer can fix.

    Plus, given that one of the lines in each of these areas is an expressway median transit line, you have the added impact of stations located within areas people don't generally like to live near: expressways Hurts the pedestrian environment there as well, especially in places where the station is adjacent to on and off ramps.

  • In reply to bms2535:

    I'm sure a lot of that goes into that. Heck you even have that when the map of farmers' markets went up yesterday, none were in those neighborhoods.

    I'm sure one would have to clear out the gang violence, first.

    But, as I pointed out above, the main reason I used it elsewhere was, as I put it there, to debunk the "if you build it they will orgasm" point.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think this is largely correct. Transit raises land values, but if the values are too low to begin with, it may not raise them enough to make development attractive to private interests. So in growing cities like Charlotte, Portland, Seattle, etc., transit can help focus development that would happen somewhere anyway, and help create higher density areas. However, in places like Buffalo or Cleveland, there isn't enough regional growth to overcome low property values and there hasn't been much private development around stations .

  • In reply to JWirtz79:

    Basically, the theory fizzled out in Chicago about the time that the Ls were extended by the related interurban companies into Skokie and Westchester in the late 1920s. Took until the post-WWII boom for those areas to take off, and by then rapid transit service had been suspended by the CTA.

    While most current suburbs developed around commuter rail stations, I haven't seen much recently resulting from "transit oriented development" studies. In one case of which I am familiar, an RTA study was basically ignored, and the question now is how the village can foster development in the face of existing zoning laws on required parking spaces.

    I do agree with you that if the area is too depressed, development won't be much aided by transit. The only question is whether the south and west side areas (especially those in the survey along the Pink from Kostner to 18th, Blue from Austin to about Medical Center, and Red and Green south of 35th) are in that apparently irremediable condition. For that matter, Rogers Park isn't looking too good in that survey, either, but I don't think it is as bad off as the others.

    There is also the conjunction that the same areas show up as impoverished or decimated in this survey, the school closings maps, and even the so-called food desert maps.

  • The Marshall Field homes are in the census tract with Sedgwick.

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