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North Lawndale

After long decline, community sows rebirth

A working class neighborhood once centered around the world headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Co., North Lawndale is recovering from a long period of population decline and disinvestment.

Now home to 42,000 residents, down from 125,000 in 1960, the neighborhood has attracted significant new development over the past 15 years, including a grocery store and cinema on Roosevelt Road, several housing developments, and the creation of the Homan Square Community Center in the former Sears complex.

The population of North Lawndale fell by 8,487 to 41,768 from 1990 to 2005, leveling off somewhat after declines of 30,000 in the 1960s and 1970s. The community was 94 percent African American and 5.3 percent Latino in the 2005 census estimates, up from zero in 1990.

Owner-occupied housing continued a steady climb to 26.9 percent in 2005, but 42 percent of households had incomes below $15,000 while another 23 percent of households had an income above $35,000.

The NCP quality of life plan unveiled in May 2005, titled "North Lawndale: Faith Rewarded," envisioned a community with low unemployment, high quality schools and training programs, healthy and stable families, adequate health and social services centers, thriving small businesses that are often locally owned, diverse housing types accessible to all income levels, attractive surroundings, and cultural facilities that serve the entire neighborhood.

"More than 30 years of hard work are showing results in North Lawndale in the form of new housing, public investment and renewed community life," the plan says. "Our neighborhood is on the upswing after decades of industrial job loss, disinvestment and population decline, and we are planning for its future."

Please click to see John McCarron's in-depth neighborhood profile from Re:New newsletter, posted in November 2007.

To download the entire plan, click here, or for a summary, click here .

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