Community seeks indigenous development
Humboldt Park is a low- to middle-income, mixed African-American and Hispanic neighborhood that has begun to show significant signs of gentrification on its eastern end, east of Humboldt Park itself -- although that may have slowed in the past few years as the housing market has cooled.
One of the “crown jewels” of the city’s park system, Humboldt Park provides a central meeting point for the neighborhood and a wealth of open space in a part of the city that otherwise has relatively little.
The area boasts a Puerto Rican-themed commercial strip called “Paseo Boricua” along Division Street and more shops along North Avenue, with industrial areas on its southern and western fringes. Most housing stock dates back 80 to 120 years, although newer developments have begun to spring up particularly to the east, leading to fears of increased displacement.
The population of Humboldt Park was 62,625 in the 2005 census estimates, down 3,211 since 2000 and down 8,984 since 1960. The community was split almost equally between African Americans (46.5 percent) and Hispanics (53.7 percent). Humboldt Park was 18.8 foreign-born in 2000.
The amount of owner-occupied housing inched up by 1.1 percent to 38.7 percent, according to the 2005 estimates, and more households have incomes above $35,000 (42 percent) than under $15,000 (27 percent).
In the NCP quality of life plan released in May 2005, titled "Humboldt Park: Staking Our Claim," the task force envisioned a "prosperous, inclusive" community with excellent educational opportunities, living-wage jobs or the opportunity to start small businesses, services for seniors and people with disabilities, decent and safe housing for all income levels, culturally sensitive and affordable health care, attractive and safe open space, safe streets with no fears of gangs or crime, and public and private beautification efforts.
"A historic beacon for immigrants and low- to moderate-income residents, Humboldt Park is responding to encroaching gentrification by working furiously to stake a claim for longtime residents who wish to stay," the plan reads. "Humboldt Park is a well-organized, outspoken, sometimes fiery community that has had mixed reactions to the growing number of higher-income, predominantly white newcomers who attract investment but drive up housing prices and property taxes."
Please click to see John McCarron's in-depth neighborhood profile from Re:New newsletter, posted in January 2006.
To download the full 2004 quality of life plan, click here, or for a summary, click here . To download the 2008 update of that plan, click here.