Austin, Chicago

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Community area
Community Area 25 - Austin
Location within the city of Chicago
Location within the city of Chicago
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Illinois
County Cook
City Chicago
 • Total 7.16 sq mi (18.54 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 98,514
 • Density 14,000/sq mi (5,300/km2)
Demographics 2010[1]
 • White 4.43%
 • Black 85.1%
 • Hispanic 8.85%
 • Asian 0.58%
 • Other 1.03%
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes 60644 and parts of 60635, 60639, 60651, 60707
Area code(s) 773, Cook Central,Daylight Time
Median household income $32,358[2]
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

Austin, located on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois, is the largest (by population) of the city's 77 officially defined community areas, followed by Lake View. Its eastern boundary is the Belt Railway located just east of Cicero Avenue. Its northernmost border is the Milwaukee District/West Line. Its southernmost border is at Roosevelt Road from the Belt Railway west to Austin Boulevard. The northernmost portion, north of North Avenue, extends west to Harlem Avenue, abutting Elmwood Park. Other suburbs bordering Austin are Cicero and Oak Park. Also nearby is Berwyn.

Austin is also one of Chicago's largest community areas by land area. Several distinctive areas within Austin include Midway Park, a historic district of restored 19th-century single-family homes in the core of the original Austin subdivision; Galewood, the northernmost section of Austin along the northern border with Oak Park but south of the Galewood railyards; and The Island, Chicago a square mile in the extreme southwest corner of Austin, which is bordered by Cicero to the south and Oak Park to the west and which is isolated from other residential area in the city by the Eisenhower Expressway and Columbus Park to the north and an industrial area to the east.[citation needed]


Austin Town Hall

Henry W. Austin, a businessman and real estate speculator, created the 280-acre (1.1 km2) Austin subdivision,located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (41.9, -87.76), in 1865. Austin included wide, tree-lined streets and a park originally named Holden Park. Originally Austin was within the Township of Cicero. Cicero decided to place its seat of government in Austin, and in 1870 a town hall opened in Austin. In 1898 Austinites had a majority of Cicero's town council and used the political influence to approve an extension of the Lake Street elevated line into the community. People from other parts of Cicero Township, including Berwyn and Oak Park, resented the influence and the dominance of Austinites and began an election to have Austin annexed into Chicago. In 1899 the annexation succeeded; Austinites opposed the annexation.[3]

Austin was a predominantly white neighborhood until the late 1960s (99.83% white in the 1960 census). It faced numerous infrastructure problems before the arrival of black residents. White residents of Austin in the early 1960s were against leaving their neighborhood for the suburbs, but a combination of events occurred in the years afterward changed that. City of Chicago officials were not responsive to the neighborhood's demands for improving neighborhood infrastructure. Residents felt the need to move elsewhere because of disinvestment, mortgage redlining, and blockbusting throughout the neighborhoods of Austin.[4] The suburbs gradually became better supported through an increased transportation system between Chicago and its suburbs, and many jobs left the city for the suburbs and overseas locations.

Significant riots began to occur on Chicago's West Side starting in 1965, and an especially damaging riot in 1968 (after Martin Luther King's death) prompted many white residents to leave. The West Side experienced a further declining infrastructure and lack of local jobs after this.

Not all emigrating residents moved into suburbs, and many moved into other areas of the city, especially the Northwest and Southwest sides. Not all emigrating residents were white: some black families, especially after the riots, began to leave the area, as it declined, to better perceived locations elsewhere.

By 1970, southern Austin (south of Lake St) was mostly black, and the neighborhood overall was 66% white and 33% black. Nearby neighborhoods such as East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, and North Lawndale, were experiencing white flight before Austin did. Decay and a declining population in these neighborhoods led to an influx of black residents in Austin.By 1980, North Lawndale was 96.50% black and, West Garfield Park was 98.85% black, East Garfield Park was 99.00% black, and Austin was 20.76% white and 73.78% black. The population of these neighborhoods seriously declined in the 1970s (approximately 30-40% decline), except Austin, which increased from 128,000 residents in 1970 to 138,000 in 1980. The neighborhood is part of Chicago's West Side which consists of Austin, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale and Near West Side. The area has a population of about 250,000 and is over 87% black.[5]

On December 1, 1958, the Our Lady of the Angels School fire killed children and nuns at the Our Lady of the Angels School, located in the Humboldt Park community.[6] Because of the parish's proximity to Austin, many OLA students temporarily attended Austin schools , such as John Hay School.

On June 6, 2013 a lesbian couple was beaten by around 10 men on North Leclaire Ave in Austin. Chicago Police Department officials labeled the attack a hate crime, and one man received criminal charges.[7]

°Midway Park Despite the massive scale change, the nineteenth-century village residential core is still visible in the Midway Park area north of Central and Lake, a designated National Register historic district (1985). This neighborhood boasts stately neoclassical and Queen Anne–style homes, many designed by architect Frederick Schock, as well as several structures by Frank Lloyd Wright and his students.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 131,114
1940 132,107 0.8%
1950 132,180 0.1%
1960 125,133 −5.3%
1970 128,084 2.4%
1980 138,026 7.8%
1990 114,079 −17.3%
2000 117,527 3.0%
2010 98,514 −16.2%

Government and infrastructure

The United States Postal Service operates the Reverend Milton R. Brunson Station Post Office at 324 South Laramie Avenue and the Robert LeFlore, Jr. Post Office at 5001 West Division Street.[9][10] Another notable landmark is the Austin Town Hall Park Fieldhouse at 5610 W. Lake Street, modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall.


A classroom in Robert Emmet School from 1911.
Children reading at desks in a classroom at the "Robert Emmet School" in 1911. The school was located at 5500 West Madison Street in the Austin community area of Chicago, Illinois

Austin Community Academy High School[11] closed after Spring 2007.[12] New smaller schools have replaced Austin Community Academy High School: Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, which opened in 2006, and Austin Polytechnical Academy, which opened in September 2007.[13]

Other portions of the community area are zoned to Manley H.S., Marshall H.S., and Orr Campus


Austin is served by two free weekly newspapers. The Austin Voice[14] has been published in Austin since 1988. The Austin Weekly News,[15] founded in 2005, is published by The Wednesday Journal, a publisher of free weekly newspapers based on Oak Park, Illinois. Both papers are published on Wednesdays and distributed in stores, office buildings and recreational venues throughout the community. Austin is also served by Austin Talks,[16] an online publication maintained by journalism students at Chicago's Columbia College and underwritten in part by the Chicago Community Trust.


  1. Paral, Rob. "Chicago Demographics Data". Retrieved 6 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Paral, Rob. "Chicago Census Data". Retrieved 7 October 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Austin Town Hall". Chicago Park District. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2008. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Seligman, Amanda (2005). Block by block : neighborhoods and public policy on Chicago's West Side. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0-226-74663-0.
  5. American FactFinder. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  6. Our Lady of the Angels School Fire - Period News Articles From around December 1, 1958. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  7. Sege, Adam and Rex W. Huppke. "Hate crime draws attention to violence against lesbians, gays." Chicago Tribune. July 12, 2013. Retrieved on July 12, 2013.
  8. Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Retrieved 2 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Post Office Location - REV.MILTON R.BRUNSON STATION". United States Postal Service. Retrieved April 17, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Post Office Location - ROBERT LEFLORE JR". United States Postal Service. Retrieved April 17, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. [1][dead link]
  13. "New high school to focus on high-tech manufacturing". 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2014-08-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links