|The Hyde Park skyline just outside the entrance to Promontory Point|
Hyde Park is proof that a diverse neighborhood can and does work, with no racial demographic making up the majority. Although it is surrounded by some of the city's poorer and more crime-ridden neighborhoods, Hyde Park remains safe and alive. Although high-end dining and nightlife exists here, Hyde Park isn't to be confused with Lake View or Lincoln Park. Hyde Park is much more relaxed, and the pace much slower. What it lacks in energy, it makes up in serenity. The streets are lined with trees, the views of the Lake are stunning, and much of the architecture rivals that of any other city area in terms of beauty and history. Hyde Park may not make for your destination every Saturday night, but it should be a frequent destination for any Chicagoan who wants to experience the oft-forgotten splendor of the south side.
The boundaries: Hyde Park Boulevard/51st Street to the north, 60th Street to the south, Cottage Grove Avenue to the west, and Lake Michigan to the east. Nice little quadrilateral there.
|The historic Hyde Park Bank|
A brief history: The development of Hyde Park began in the 1850s when New York lawyer Paul Cornell purchased 300 acres of land in what today makes up the northern half of the community area. Rail connection to the Loop would help the area grow over the next three decades, and it was annexed into the City of Chicago in 1889. Two revolutionary events would follow shortly thereafter. In 1892, retail magnate Marshall Field would donate ten acres in Hyde Park to the University of Chicago, founded by the legendary oil man John D. Rockefeller and William Rainey Harper. The university remains to this day one of the premier institutions for higher learning on the planet, and a major economic driver for the neighborhood.
The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 remains to this date one of the most impressive of all world's fairs and was held mostly within Hyde Park's present day boundaries. Only one building still remains, utilized for the past 85 years as the Museum of Science and Industry. The exposition would bring millions from around the world to Hyde Park, including the now-infamous Dr. H. H. Holmes.
Despite remaining an upscale Chicago neighborhood through the 1920s, the Great Depression combined with Post-World War II urban flight contributed to an increase in impoverished conditions in Hyde Park. However, the late 1950s and 1960s saw Hyde Park pull off one the nation's more successful (and in some ways controversial) urban renewal efforts.
|Awe-inspiring Gothic architecture at the University of Chicago|
Getting there: Unfortunately, the "L" is not a direct option. It is possible to take the Green Line to its southeastern terminus as Cottage Grove/63rd and then walk/bus three blocks north up Cottage Grove Avenue, but this is ill-advised by some due to some problems around the station at night in the Woodlawn neighborhood. A better rail option is the Metra Electric Line to/from Millenium Station at Millenium Park. There are three Hyde Park stops at: 51st/53rd Street, 55th-56th-57th Street, and 59th Street/University of Chicago.
By bus, your best way to get down there is the Hyde Park Express (2) and the U of Chicago Hospitals Express (192), which run from downtown to Hyde Park in the mornings, and come back in the late afternoon/early evening. Other north/south options include: Cottage Grove (4), Woodlawn (172), Lake Park (28), and Hyde Park Blvd (6 & x28). East/west you're looking at: E Hyde Park (5), and 55th Street (55). Bus routes 170 and 171 also traverse the neighborhood.