The Impacts of Historic Preservation in Chicago: An Analysis of Chicago Landmark Districts
Rubaci Uygur, Arin
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Historic preservation has frequently been utilized for urban revitalization and economic development. A growing number of studies have identified historic preservation as an economic development tool that is vital for the revitalization of urban cores. However, the distribution of the economic benefits of historic preservation is often questioned and criticized for accelerating property values and leading to gentrification and displacement. The question of whether different types of neighborhoods are affected by historic preservation differently is ripe for further investigation. This thesis, to make a contribution to the literature, analyzed the impacts of historic district designation in Chicago and how the designation impacts vary for neighborhoods with different socioeconomic characteristics focusing on two research questions: (1) What kind of socioeconomic changes occur in historic landmark districts that can be attributed to historic district designation? (2) Do socioeconomic changes attributable to historic preservation vary for neighborhoods that had different socioeconomic characteristics before historic district designation? The study conducts a matched-pair analysis to find out whether there are statistically significant differences between the socioeconomic changes in landmark district and control census tracts which are matched according to their pre-designation characteristics. The result of the analysis reveals that the changes in landmark census tracts seem not to differ significantly from control tracts when analyzed in total. However, after typologies are created, each typology shows significant differences. The findings demonstrate that in white middle and high income neighborhoods, the historic district designation does not lead to any considerable change other than limiting new developments, whereas, in non-white low income neighborhoods, the significant increases in median house values and median household income indicate that it brings about gentrification and displacement. After the matched-pair analysis, two case studies are selected to further investigate how both the outcomes and the motives for historic district designation differ for different neighborhoods. The findings point out that strategic targeting of the available and potential economic incentives is needed in order to utilize historic preservation more effectively ensuring better and equitable neighborhood outcomes.