Evanston was saved from what could have been a dramatic population decline during the past decade by new construction that was largely concentrated in three census tracts in and near downtown.
Newly released figures from the 2010 census show that the population of census tract 8094, which includes downtown east of the Metra tracks, grew 29 percent during the decade, from 4,496 to 5,804 people.
Census tract 8095, which includes downtown west of the Metra tracks, grew 8 percent, from 3,407 to 3,670.
And census tract 8099, which includes the area east of the Metra tracks between Dempster and Main Streets, also a substantial amount of new construction. Its population grew 15 percent, from 2,476 to 2,855.
In all, half of Evanston's census tracts showed population increases. The other half, mostly concentrated in the west and southern portions of town, lost residents.
The biggest population declines occurred in the two census tracts hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.
Tract 8092, which includes most of the western portion of the city's 5th Ward, lost nearly 8 percent of its population, dropping from 4,993 to 4,611.
Tract 8102, in the southeast corner of the 8th Ward, lost over 7 percent of its population, dropping from 6,202 to 5,739.
Those two census tracts have been targeted rehab and new construction projects under the $18 million neighborhood stabilization program grant Evanston received from the federal government last year.
Metro area map of population change by census tract (Chicago Tribune)