I used to live with some friends in Wrigleyville near, of course, Wrigley Field, in Chicago. I lived there during the early 90's... the area was good, but far from what it is today.
Back then we lived in the house on the upper left of this collage. A couple friends and I were looking in the paper and saw a 3 bedroom apartment for SIX HUNDRED dollars a month and we jumped on it right away. The land lady (who lived downstairs) wanted a three hundred dollar deposit - we went to the cash station and signed up immediately.
The place was definitely decrepit - there was no air conditioning, no dishwasher, and the kitchen was something out of your grandmother's house (a big empty room with a sink, stove and refrigerator). We had one bathroom, and it was small, hard to believe 3 guys and their various girlfriends could all get to work at the same time every morning, but it worked.
Funny because now you can see a "for rent" sign a couple blocks away (lower right) that also lists a 3 bedroom and 1 bath apartment, but for SEVENTEEN HUNDRED FIFTY dollars. I guess that it has been about 15 years... but this is almost a 300% increase in that time, about 11% compounded each year.
On the upper left you can see the types of buildings that they are putting up near Wrigley Field today - they are built of stone and single-family homes where the building I used to rent had room for 3 families (they each COULD fit three families, but times and needs have changed). I couldn't find a price for this home on the web but would guess that it is certainly north of $1M, probably closer to $1.5M. Note that the "first wave" of renovations were built of wood, with some brick. The newest houses are all built of stone, since the area has increased so much in value that the new buyers demand the most expensive construction. You can see the same thing in Wicker Park / Bucktown, where they have a lot of first wave wooden construction that probably will come down in a decade or so to make room for even more upscale dwellings.
Living near Wrigley Field was a lot of fun. We went to local bars all the time, places like Yakzies on Clark Street. I remember the first time I went there with a friend of mine from high school and we ordered a pitcher of beer (about $6 at the time) and he put down a $20 bill as payment. We bought a couple more pitchers, and each time he paid $20 more. I was mystified, since this was a lot of money back then right out of college. Later I understood more as the bartender gave us free round after free round of shots and beers until we staggered home. Dan from Madison ended up crashing on our porch after banging on the door to no avail more than once. In face, I think he met someone important at that house...
Prior to living on Byron I lived at another place in Wrigleyville closer to Ashland avenue. Our landlord was a weird guy we nicknamed "Mr. Furley" after the guy in "Three's Company". He said that when he bought the house in the 70's Wrigleyville was run by gangs and very dangerous; one day he was walking to work and someone mugged him and stole his briefcase.
One thing always to keep in mind is that none of these massive upgrades came because of a specific government policy or some sort of "redevelopment" plan; they occurred because local people bought up buildings and started to kick out the dicier tenants and forced the city bureaucracy to pay attention to the area in terms of policing and services. Outside builders came in and redeveloped older buildings and resold them for higher prices, risking their own money in the progress. Finally, richer developers came in and flat out tore down the old buildings and built, usually "on spec", houses costing north of $1M. All city hall did was stay the heck out of the way - no "set asides" or requirements to use certain types of builders or create low-income housing. This is how free markets are supposed to work - when land is desirable, if developers and owners aren't thwarted, things usually get a lot better.