Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=181394
Story Retrieval Date: 5/22/2013 11:23:58 AM CST
While the 2010 U. S. Census showed mind-boggling losses for some demographic groups in Chicago, the numbers are still unclear for the city’s senior population.
The census indicated that Chicago’s population changed drastically between 2000 and 2010. The Windy City lost 200,000, 6.9 percent of its total population. The African-American population dropped by 17.2 percent, more than any other racial group. But the U.S. Census Bureau has not released data pertaining to residents 65 years and older.
According to estimates by factfinder.census,gov, between 2005 and 2009, the overall number of Chicagoans age 65 and older declined to 290,870, a 3 percent drop.
But according to a Feb. 18 Chicago Tribune map charting census changes, some parts of the city have defied the downward curve. The number of Chicagoans living along a strip of the Loop’s lakefront has grown by 51 percent between 2000 and 2010. That district stretches from the lake to LaSalle Street on the east and west and Wacker Drive and Adams Street on the north and south.
John McCarron, an adjunct professor of urban affairs at DePaul University, said the increase is due in part to an influx of seniors migrating south from the northern suburbs.
“A big chunk [of the downtown population] is empty nesters,” McCarron said. “Retired couples are moving into these sexy, lakefront downtown neighborhoods.”
By trading their 10,000 square-foot suburban mansions, said McCarron, for 2,000 square-foot downtown lakefront condominiums, seniors have found the perfect marriage between practicality and pleasure.
“It’s more fun and less hassle,” McCarron said. Rather than driving everywhere and mowing lawns, seniors can “take a condo downtown and walk to the theatre.”
Seniors just wanna have fun: one woman shares her story about why she moved
Zero score and seven years ago, Carol Emmons, her husband and dog moved from their home in Wilmette to a lakefront high-rise in the Loop.
“I think we have the best of everything right here,” the 69-year-old Emmons said as she sat in her living room with its panoramic views of Chicago. She works blocks away at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple on West Washington Street.
After 25 year in Wilmette, where the couple raised two sons, she convinced her husband to swap their quiet, reserved suburban life for a hustling, bustling urban one. He had recently retired as conductor of orchestras at Deerfield and Highland Park high schools.
“I think the convenience was to be closer to the arts,” Emmons said.
While living in Wilmette, the couple would often drive into the city for performances in the Loop’s theater district and at Symphony Center. But the trip was time-consuming, so they didn’t make it as often as they would have liked.
“It would take an hour for us to get [to the city],” she said, “and 45 minutes to get home.”
Now, the Emmonses are within walking distance of their favorite arts venues.
“We have the opportunity,” Emmons said, “to go to the theatre, Lyric Opera, and all of those things that we enjoy doing without having to drive.”
Emmons said they have season tickets for Lyric and Symphony Center, a change from their days in suburbia. Given the convenience, she said there’s no good excuse not to subscribe.
“It makes us feel metropolitan because we are so close to things,” Emmons said. “We love it.”
No matter what life brings, Emmons said she loves her condo and the Loop so much, she will continue to live there.
“Even if something were to happen to my husband,” Emmons said, “I don’t see myself moving anytime soon.”
McCarron applauded the Emmonses.
“God bless her,” he said, “because people like to stay where they at her age.”