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West Haven

A neighborhood of firsts, the Near West Side was the first laid low by riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. That sad episode and its aftermath nearly wiped out its main drag of West Madison Street and triggered an exodus of jobs from the once-mighty Kinzie Industrial Corridor.  

But now, as it makes its comeback as West Haven, the same neighborhood has been the first to deal effectively with large-scale urban renewal (think United Center); with the side-effects of transformed public housing (think Horner Homes and Rockwell Gardens); and with challenges from unemployed ex-offenders to spats over how fancy should be the stores coming back to West Madison.

The square mile that is West Haven, bordered by Ashland, Western Van Buren and Lake, is but a corner of the city’s official Near West Side, yet it has experienced far more than its share of changes that have come to all neighborhoods close to the Loop.

Many date the turnaround back to 1987 when residents defeated a Chicago Bears proposal to build a football stadium alongside the new United Center. They won by drafting and defending their own plan, one calling for new housing to replace that cleared for the UC, for a neighborhood library, a refurbished Touhy Herbert Park and, eventually, the James Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Family Life Center. Ten years later the Chicago Housing Authority kicked off its historic Plan for Transformation by demolishing its Henry Horner high-rises along Lake Street and partnering with a developer to build there the Villages of West Haven townhouses. When many CHA tenants had trouble making the adjustment to independent living it was the Near West Side Community Development Corporation, the neighborhood's lead agency, that stepped up with a series of social interventions that later became a model for CHA resettlement across the city.

See the neighborhood's 2007 Quality-of-Life Plan.


Population (2010) 63,454 up 33% from 2000
Racial/ethnic makeup 40% African American, 38% white, 11% Asian, 7% Latino  


Total occupied units (2010) 25,641 up 37% from 2000
Owner occupied units (2010) 9,609 up 92% from 2000


Median household income (2010) $56,195 up 45% from 2000
Percentage above $50,000 (2010) 48% 35% above $75,000
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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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