In Chicago, "community areas" are generally used to refer to communities/neighborhoods.
"Community Areas" (CAs) are statistical & administrative boundaries designated in 1930s by the University of Chicago sociologists but also used by the City of Chicago government. The boundaries of CAs coincide with those of census tracts, and thus CAs are ideal for generating aggregated statistical information.
"Neighborhoods" are much smaller boundaries generally defined by local residents and the Chicago real estate association.
Encyclopedia of Chicago
The Encyclopedia of Chicago contains thousands of historical resources related to Chicago's history, including community & neighborhood descriptions.
Local Community Fact Book
Community factbooks, first published in 1938, were published by a group of University of Chicago sociologists. No fact books were published in 2000. Format varies but the books generally contain historical background and community descriptions, and statistics.
Library has: 1938,1949-1950,1960,1980,1990
Call number: L 317.7311 L811
Forty-four Cities in Chicago
Descriptions and history of selected Chicago communities, published in 1942.
Call number: 711 C532fo
Chicago, a historical guide to the neighborhoods : the Loop and South Side
Descriptions and history of selected downtown and southside Chicago neighborhoods, published in 1979.
Call number: 977.311 H758c
Chicago Politics, Ward by Ward
Descriptions and history of Chicago wards, published in 1988.
Call number: 977.31104 F872c
Chicago Recreaton Survey
Snapshots of Chicago landscape circa 1934 from a cultural point of view, one of the post-depression WPA projects in Chicago. Volume 4 contains maps and landmark information of each community area.
Call number: 790 C5322