CHICAGO — What's in the water in Gage Park?
The Southwest Side neighborhood ruled as the city's most fertile with the highest birth rate throughout almost the entire first decade of the 21st century, according to new statistics released Thursday by the Chicago Department of Public Health through the city's Data Portal.
But North Center is coming on strong, taking the top spot for highest birth rate in 2009, the last year for which figures were released.
The Loop may be where the action is, culturally, but not where birthing families are concerned. The downtown neighborhood had the lowest birth rate for every year from 1999 to 2009, although it rose to 9.4 per 1,000 people in 2009, just behind Hyde Park's 9.7.
After posting birth rates above 25 per 1,000 people for most of the decade, Gage Park slipped to 21.8 in 2009, allowing North Center to squeeze through at 22.4.
Austin, meanwhile, has usurped South Lawndale as the neighborhood where the most families give birth overall. After they split the first few years of the century, Austin has led every year since 2005, usually with just under 2,000 births a year.
Overall, births in Chicago have slipped from 50,876 in 2000 to 44,441 in 2009. The birth rate was 17.4 per 1,000 people in 1999, bottomed out at 16.2 in 2005, but otherwise hovered around 16.5 for the last years of the study.
The Data Portal also released new data on chronic and infectious diseases and lead poisoning, building on data sets first released a year ago.
"Open and accessible public health data will improve the lives of all residents," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "As a national leader in fostering and promoting open data, the City of Chicago will continue to make new public health information available to individuals and organizations, so we can serve the City of Chicago more efficiently and effectively."