The Geography of Shootings in Chicago

A handful of neighborhoods on the south and north sides of the city account for most of the shooting victims this year, while several neighborhoods on the far north and south sides haven’t seen any.

Photo: Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune

Police investigate the scene on 99th and Halsted streets Tuesday, July 2, 2013 after a man selling newspapers to drivers was shot and killed around 6 a.m.

Just before the long, deadly Fourth of July weekend, the Tribune web apps team produced a remarkable map: shooting victims in the city in 2013, along with some data from 2012. Just looking at homicides is incomplete; as I’ve written about before, the line between a homicide and a shooting can be a very fine one, with just a couple inches separating a high-profile fatality from an obscure statistic, or something as simple as caliber, whichever gun the shooter happened to get his hands on.

So it’s excellent to see the geography of it. As usual, Austin has the most victims: 70 this year, a bit behind 2012’s pace (162 total). But Austin is also Chicago’s biggest community area, with 98,000 people as of the 2010 Census. Englewood and West Englewood have worse per capita stats: Englewood has 30,000 people and 50 shooting victims in 2013; West Englewood has 35,000 people and 47 shooting victims this year. They’re part of a particularly dangerous belt that runs from Chicago Lawn (55k people, 45 shooting victims), Auburn Gresham (50k people, 47 victims), Greater Grand Crossing (32k people, 49 victims), and South Shore (50k people, 52 victims).

Here’s a detail of that area.

A few days ago I spoke with Northwestern prof Bill Savage about depictions of Chicago; he’d recently had Sun-Times reporter Frank Main in to talk to his class, and one of the things Main said was that Chicago, despite it regularly showing up in the news for its violence, is mostly quite safe. Take Ashburn and West Lawn, two South Side neighborhoods forming the light-blue “L” that Columbus Avenue runs through. They have a combined 14 victims in 2013, with a combined population of about 75,000. Hot and happening West Town, where I sort of live and feel totally safe walking and biking at all hours, has 81,000 people and 14 victims so far. Humboldt Park, where I also sort of live—I’m kind of on the border, technically Humboldt but culturally UKV—has 56,000 people and 46 victims so far, a slightly slower pace than last year (109 victims).

There’s also a year by year comparison of shootings. Things have been a bit better most months this year, except for March, which was much, much better.

The high temperature in March 2013 was 60 degrees. The average high temperature in March 2012 was 63 degrees; the mean temperature in March last year was 20 degrees higher. The data, and the research, point to temperature being an important influence.



1 year ago
Posted by goeson

i'm a male living in that ukraninian village/humboldt park area. i personally never felt threatened on the street, but i'm not so confident that my apartment will not be broken into.

1 year ago
Posted by trapp416

An interesting study would be to find the source(s) of the weapons used. Offer the perpetrators a loose deal in plea bargaining to give up their weapons sources. Chicago is surrounded by states with much looser gun laws than Illinois. We need to find out where the weapons are coming from that get into these thugs hands, because if they are acquired from illegal purchases rather than stolen, we have accessories to these crimes that need to be prosecuted.

1 year ago
Posted by crosspalms

The Sun-Times' Frank Main did an excellent piece on that:

1 year ago
Posted by W.H. Thompson

Good stuff. Most Chicagoans know there are two Chicagos. There are neighborhoods that have issues and those that do not and it's been that way for 50 years now. The ones that do not have issues are relatively safe, clean and friendly. Those that do have issues make national headlines, sometimes.

We've been keeping tabs on everything related to Chicago crime, murder and mayhem over at

1 year ago
Posted by OneReasonableGuy

I've seen reports of the 72 shootings which occurred over the July 4th holiday weekend, the reports showed that those shootings resulted in 12 murders.

In light of the pending verdict in the George Zimmerman trial with its associated racial tensions, I was wondering if anyone had done a tally of the ethnic background of the recent Chicago shooting suspects in contrast to their shooting victims?

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