Historical data included in the current proposal to landmark Foster School sheds light on how housing patterns by race have changed in Evanston over time.

And it gives evidence that a town long labeled as having only “drive-by diversity” has at least evolved to require a shorter drive in recent years.

Census data located by Dino Robinson, the author of the Foster School landmarking proposal, show, as illustrated in the chart above, that in 1950 the population of census tract 8092, which included the school, was 95 percent black.

And, aside from the neighboring 8093 and 8096 tracts that were 11 percent black, no other tract in the city had a black population higher than 5 percent. Many tracts were at 1 percent or less.

The black population by census tract from the 2012-16 American Community Survey (PolicyMap).

By comparison, current figures show that while the share of black residents in the formerly almost all-black tract 8092 has declined dramatically, to 55 percent, the share of black residents in most other tracts has increased. The average Evanston census tract now 16 percent black residents, compared to 8 percent in 1950.

What’s your census tract? This map from the city’s website should help you figure that out.

Aside from tract 8092 the only tracts that have a lower percentage of blacks now than in 1950 are tract 8093 where the number fell from 11 percent to 5 percent and tract 8094, where it fell from 4 percent to 2 percent.

Only tract 8089 in far northwest Evanston still has less than 1 percent of black residents, the same as it did in 1950.

In 1950, of course, almost all Evanston residents were either white or black. Now the racial and ethnic matrix has become much more complex, with the addition of many more Hispanic and Asian residents.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Won’t you be my neighbor?

    On the street where I live, we also have many blended and mixed families. Everyone appreciates and enjoys their neighbor. Social tranquility is a greater desire then any number crunching statistic.

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