Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Are we headed for brawl with Houston?

The Reuters newswire service felt compelled Monday to report a story that has been hinted at by many entities for years – Houston will someday have more people living there than Chicago.

Chicago will always have edge over Houston
The one-time Second City (only to New York) will someday have to settle for Number Four – and most likely sometime during our lifetimes.

REUTERS REPORTED THAT by the year 2025, Chicago’s population (currently about 2.7 million) will be 2.5 million. Whereas Houston (which in 2010 had 2.1 million people) will be about 2.54 million people.

It will go New York City, Los Angeles, Houston THEN Chicago. Which on a certain level makes me want to wretch.

Not that it really makes any difference. I wouldn’t want to live in any Texas city, and certainly wouldn’t think of Houston as being superior to Chicago on any level. Just as I don’t really think of Los Angeles as superior to Chicago just because back when I was in college it managed to surpass Chicago in population.

Although I can already hear the Texas-type boasts (that always come across as insecurity at its worst) about how wonderful this makes Houston – except for those people from Dallas, who will probably be more appalled by this news than anyone from Chicago will be.

OF COURSE, THERE is a factor in all of this growth that explains how a southwestern city could possibly be larger than Chicago, or any Midwestern U.S. city.


A bi-state region with that big huge lake ...
Houston has space surrounding it. Room for it to grow that can be incorporated into the city proper. Evidence that it is located in a region that could accurately be described as the middle of nowhere (just like Las Vegas, Nev.).

Whereas Chicago has been hemmed in on all sides by Lake Michigan to the east (an asset that I’m sure Houston would kill to have) and suburban communities in all directions.

THERE’S NO SPACE for Chicago proper to grow. There is room on the outskirts for the suburban area to continue to grow. In fact, metropolitan Chicago is getting larger even though the city proper is shrinking.

... will always be superior to city in the desert
The Census Bureau indicates that back in 2010, Houston and its suburbs have some 5.95 million people. By comparison to Chicago, which the Census Bureau offered an estimate of having some 9.73 million people in 2011.

I don’t doubt that Houston’s suburbs will get larger and the gap will close.

But it’s very likely that come 2025, Houston’s city population will be slightly larger while Chicago’s metro area population will remain significantly larger. I can already hear the arguments that will arise, particularly from Texas-types who will resent the idea that anybody challenges their claim to being Number Three when you could argue they remain Number Four!

WHICH WILL MEAN that Chicago will have to settle for being the largest city in the Midwest or Great Lakes regions – because it’s not like St. Louis, Milwaukee, Detroit or Minneapolis/St. Paul are on the verge of surpassing Chicago anytime soon (if ever).

Now I don’t want to come across as mocking Reuters. Although I’m not sure why this is news now. Estimates that Houston will someday have more people have been spreading around for years now.

Just as it was long expected that Los Angeles would surpass Chicago by the time it actually happened in 1984 (New York is so much bigger than anything else that nothing is likely to surpass it anytime soon).

These population shifts don’t change the true character of either city, or the fact that in a Chicago vs. Houston brawl, our city will be able to claim a World Series advantage – our White Sox did sweep the Houston Astros four straight games back in ’05. Nothing changes that!


No comments: