Chicago's Olympic Movement – of Residents

Gentrification of venue areas in full swing

When the Olympics come bulldozing through your town, it's usually the poor and working class who have to make way.

There's no reason to suspect Chicago will be any different if the Games come here in 2016.

In fact, Alden Loury, the publisher of The Chicago Reporter, writes that an analysis of the data shows that gentrification of proposed venue areas may already be occuring.

"Olympic venues have been proposed in several parts of the city, including the North, South and Near West sides," Loury writes. "But some of the deepest fears about gentrification have come from South Side residents."

Loury and the Reporter found by looking at voter registration data that the Washington Park area - where the Olympic stadium would be built - is among the top three parts of the city with the highest residential mobility.

"In several census tracts surrounding the location of the Olympic Stadium, more than 50 percent of registered voters who were found had relocated," Loury writes. "The same was true of several census tracts in the Lincoln Park community area, where tennis events will be held,  and of areas to the north and east of Douglas Park, where a pair of cycling venues would be built for the Games."

Gentrification around Olympic sites has been hotly debated in upcoming host cities Vancouver and London - and even last year's host Beijing.

Loury's analysis shows that the highest rate of voter mobility in the city is in Douglas, around the shuttered Michael Reese Hospital, site of the proposed Olympic Village.

If history proves a reliable guide, the Olympics may be coming to a neighborhood near you, but you may no longer be able to afford sticking around to enjoy them.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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