Redistricting and Neighborhood Violence in Chicago


Some of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods have historically been some of the most politically disenfranchised. Past work by Professor Vargas has explored the connection between the continuance of violence and redistricting’s effect on the subsequent stable resources allotted to a community over time.

The visualization on the top right highlights in red six neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime—Austin, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, Englewood, and Little Village—beneath the city’s ward boundaries for every decade since 1961.

The video is six seconds long; you may have to replay it a few times. Pay attention to one neighborhood at a time. See how often the ward boundaries change. They change enormously. 

Now view the visualization on the bottom right, which highlights in blue seven more affluent Chicago neighborhoods—Beverly, Bridgeport, Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, and the Near North Side—beneath city ward boundaries. Some neighborhoods like Bridgeport, Beverly, and Edison Park have been in the same ward since 1961. That's nearly 60 years of stable political representation. Now imagine how Austin, Little Village, or Englewood might have benefitted from such prolonged political stability.

The VLP Lab is working to identify and analyze trends in the city’s history of redistricting, looking at ward boundaries and other political stratification, and considering the factors—social, economic, political, geographic, environmental, etc.—that have played a part in the decision-making surrounding the question of how to divide up Chicago.