Census results last week show Chicago as the only one of the twenty largest cities in America to lose population. The freaking out over a tiny loss isn’t really warranted. The comparison to Houston is bogus. Etc, etc. Yet Chicago’s leaders have refused to grapple with the real and severe structural and cultural challenges that face the city. That’s something they need to do if they want it to succeed over the longer term.
I wrote about this in my latest City Journal web piece, “The Duck-Billed Platypus of Cities“:
When it comes to population estimates, municipal-level data is largely irrelevant, especially when comparing cities with one another. That Houston may soon outpace Chicago in municipal population doesn’t mean that much—the city of Houston includes vast tracts of suburbia, making for an apples-to-oranges comparison. Chicago’s metro area is much larger than Houston’s and will remain the third-largest in the country for years to come. Similarly, while Chicago has the most murders in America, its murder rate is lower than other major cities like St. Louis, Baltimore, and Detroit. Comparisons with Detroit, with its hollowed-out economy, particularly infuriate Chicagoans, who reside in what remains a major economic center. And Detroit’s population loss far exceeds Chicago’s.
But just because Chicago shouldn’t be compared to Detroit doesn’t mean that it should be compared with San Francisco.
Click through to read the whole thing.