Robert Park asserted that the city represented a new type of community and, due to its large size, was comprised of many smaller communities. The sociology students devoted much of their research effort to the exploration of these smaller communities. Ernest Burgess spent decades looking for a statistical basis for these local communities. The material at hand was statistics for city blocks that came from the decennial U.S. Census. The census aggregated those statistics to City Wards. Wards were not useful sociological units; municipal government could re-draw ward boundaries from time to time and furthermore, wards did not correspond with people's communities. Burgess cooperated with the U.S Census Bureau as they created Census Tracts, approximating neighborhoods. Using these new units, Burgess and the students explored the city looking for the boundaries of local areas. Eventually they divided Chicago into 75 Community Areas, each with its own name. Over the years one of those areas was divided into two and O'Hare International Airport was added to the city so now there are 77 Community Areas. These areas have been absorbed into the city's traditions, so that now they are used in real estate marketing, city administration, journalism, as well as in social research. Demography, the study of population, was emerging as a new science in the decade of the 1920s. Some population facts came from the decennial U.S. Census and others from Chicago's Board of Health. Chicago school sociologists used elementary population statistics such as birth and death rates as tools with which to describe and analyze local communities. - University of Chicago Library
The Local Community Research Committee was established in 1923 with an initial grant of $21,000 from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial. This grant was supported by subsequent annual direct and matching grants amounting to nearly half a million dollars by 1931. In 1930, the LCRC was renamed the Social Science Research Committee and Donald Slesinger was brought from Yale University's Institute of Human Relations to become the full-time Executive Secretary. Primary financial support for the Social Science Research Committee came from the Rockefeller Foundation, which had absorbed the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial in 1929, from the Division of the Social Sciences, and from the University's general research funds. – University ofChicago Social Science Study
1. Walk around. This may sound pretty basic, but it is essential. Go out at different times of day and night. In the morning you will meet the dog walkers and commuters. In the day (especially in the summer) you will see the families out and about. At night, a walk will give you the feel for the neighborhood after dark. If you are a dog owner, walking around at night is a critical test. When you encounter people, ask them about the neighborhood: how long they have lived there, where did they move from, if they ever moved would they stay or move to a different area and why?
3. Do the numbers. Are you planning to stay in the neighborhood for 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? What is the appreciation outlook? If you moved would it make sense to keep the home and rent it? What are the rents and the rental price trend for that neighborhood? Are you comfortable with the value you are getting and the prospects for being able to sell it when you want to?
4. Do the commute. Make sure to test drive the commute to work or school at the time you typically go. Test a few different routes. There is nothing like spoiling the feel of a new home than sitting in traffic forever to get there.
5. Surf the web. There are tons of sites that can help you investigate activities, crime statistics and demographics.