Since Barack Obama’s election in 2008, Hyde Park has been in the limelight as the former stomping grounds of our nation’s first African American president. Interest in the neighborhood exploded as the campaign wrapped up and existing tours of the city’s South Side were rerouted to pass by Obama’s regular hangouts. In addition to having famous residents (Barack’s not the only high-profile product of Hyde Park), the community is home to one of Chicago’s most-visited attractions – the Museum of Science and Industry.
Named after areas in New York and London, Hyde Park was originally developed by a man named Paul Cornell. Cornell, a lawyer and entrepreneur, came to Chicago from New York with the goal of setting up a community. He built a hotel at the center of Hyde Park that was burnt down in 1879. In 1917, a new hotel known as the Hampton House was built to replace it. Today, the Hampton House serves as a condo tower.
The year of 1889 is when Hyde Park became part of Chicago. Along with start of the Columbian Exposition, the University of Chicago started to develop. During the time of the university’s construction, Hyde Park experienced rapid growth.
In the 1960s, after major growth and period of economic decline, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference was organized as an urban renewal project. This project aimed at making the area an ‘interracial community of high standards.’
Hyde Park is extends from 51st to 59th street north to south, the lake on the east, and Cottage Grove Avenue on the west.
Things to Do
For an evening of rock ‘n’ roll and blues, stop in to Checkerboard Lounge (5201 S Harper Ave, 773-684-1472). Legendary performers like the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters have graced the stage here.
For a more active night out, check out Hyde Park’s local bowling alley Seven Ten Lanes (1055 E 55th St, 773-347-2695). Not only can you bowl here, but Seven Ten Lanes also has pool and arcade games for whatever strikes your mood.
Hyde Park puts on an annual Farmer’s Market (between 53rd St and Hyde Park Blvd) that begins in June and goes all the way through October. Starting on Thursdays from 7am to 1pm, the neighborhood is filled with tons of fresh produce you can choose from.
Runners rejoice during September in Hyde Park because of the Chicago Half Marathon (57th St and Lake Shore Dr, 773-404-2281). This is an annual event where thousands of people, from pro runners to newcomers, come together to be a part of a 13-mile run.
Dining & Nightlife
Chicagoans love their pizza and if you’re in Hyde Park, Edwardo’s Natural Pizza Restaurant (1321 E 57th St, 773-241-7960) is the best place to stop in for some. Here you can enjoy Chicago’s famous stuffed pizza at its finest.
Owned by Michal and Mary Mastricola, you can count on a classy dining experience at La Petite Folie (1504 E 55th St, 773-493-1394). Mary cooks up delectable French cuisine she learned to make at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, where she graduated first in class.
Looking for a music fix? Hyde Park Records (1377 E 53rd St, 773-667-5700) has all the vinyl records you can imagine. And after you find the record that you’ve been searching forever for, stop in at Binny’s (1531 E 53rd St, 773-324-5000) to pick up an adult beverage to celebrate your new purchase.
To gussy up your home, take a look at Futons-N-More (1370 E 53rd St, 773-955-7780). Of course you’ll find futons here, but you can also grab other kinds of furniture like that new desk or bookshelf. If you’re interested in some new goodies for your kitchen, Freehling Pot & Pan Co. (1365 E 57th St, 773-684-1300) has everything you would want and more.
Places to Stay
After a long day of roaming around Hyde Park, you can look forward to a comfy place to lay your head. Come by Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center (5225 S Harper Ave, 773-752-5300) for 24/7 food and a cozy bed.
Provided by Hyde Park Real Estate