Hyde Park 2016-10-13T02:28:57+00:00
Community Area 41 In Hyde Park

History Map Showing the Boundaries of All the Neighborhoods in Chicago

Hyde Park is a elegant and upscale neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Its roots go back to the arrival of a young New York lawyer named Paul Cornell. He came from a family that arrived in the “New World” in 1638. His cousin, Ezra Cornell, founded Cornell University. Paul saw potential in the lakefront area and purchased 300 acres of land. He worked out a deal with the railroad where he deeded some of the land to them in return for a train station and daily trips into the heart of Chicago’s commercial district. He named the are Hyde Park in honor of the area in London by the same name.

Hyde Park officially became part of Chicago in 1889. The village was divided along the central and southern lines, but the south prevailed. They believed that by being a part of the city they would have better government services. It didn’t take long for the advantages to being part of the city came to pass. The community was selected by the American Baptist Education Society as the site of the University of Chicago and well endowed by John D. Rockefeller and local philanthropists. Shortly thereafter, Chicago won the right to host the world’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The selected location was what is now Jackson Park. These two events led to a great building boom in the neighborhood, including workmen’s cottages, residential hotels, professors’ homes, businesses, parks and other institutions. During the first decades of the 20th century, the area was one of the choice residential sections of the city. In addition, there was a substantial arts colony, which included as residents writers Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay, Ben Hecht, and Chicago Symphony conductors Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock. The area was a center of progressive political and social activity in the city.

Hyde Park is something of an anomaly on the otherwise unpolished South Side. The University of Chicago, built in 1925 when this area was full of prestige and wealth, has made Hyde Park a bastion of culture in the middle of an environment known for crime, racial tension and impoverished families. Still surrounded by poorer areas, Hyde Park prides itself on being one of the few truly racially integrated neighborhoods in Chicago. Even though the areas around here have been improving, both the Chicago Police and the large University of Chicago Police Force patrol the neighborhood heavily. With that type of attention it’s no wonder Hyde Park has such a low crime rate.

The central neighborhood is the biggest draw, dominated by the rather awesome presence of the University of Chicago. During the 1950s, desegregation fueled extensive “white flight” from this area, transforming the racial make up of nearly the entire South Side from all white to all black. Here, however, the University of Chicago leveraged its financial power, political clout, and social engineering brainpower to muscle through the city’s first “urban renewal” project. This project, unflatteringly referred to by many neighborhood residents as “urban removal,” used eminent domain powers to demolish urban housing developments, to remove nightclubs and bars, and to make the neighborhood more suburban in character.

The project evicted many if not the majority of the neighborhood’s low-income residents, but the end result of the University-driven renewal project is that Hyde Park is to this day one of the nation’s most durable mixed-income, mixed-race neighborhoods, and is home to one of the only significant white communities for miles on the South Side. Hyde Park maintains its unique characteristics in its unique isolation from the rest of the city: no convenient L service, giant Washington Park to the west, frigid-in-the-winter Midway Plaisance to the south, and persistent redevelopment projects pushing to the north through Kenwood and to the south through Woodlawn.

Grand old high-rise apartment buildings line the lakefront, and away from the lake the neighborhood is filled with low-rise buildings many of which have become condos. While single-family homes in Hyde Park are expensive, townhouses and condos are on par with new construction in other middle-class neighborhoods in the city.

Hyde Park Demographics

Cuisine

Serious Eats is a highly respected food publication. When they write a review about a restaurant, it’s going to get a lot of views. So when they did a neighborhood roundup of Hyde Park, and didn’t have glowing reviews for many of the places, some of the locals were upset. The residents of Hyde Park have always felt a need to ferociously defend the food in the area. Luckily for them, that article is now old news.

That article was written in 2012, and even though it would have been pretty hard to argue with it then, the times are a changing! The dining scene is Hyde Park is changing with new restaurants opening up every day. When Barack Obama lived here, he was a huge fan of Dixie Kitchen. It was a great soul food restaurant and after Obama’s endorsement it had a line out the door. Unfortunately, the place is closed now, but there are still a lot of great options.

A10 is a new restaurant that brings something unique to the area. It’s named for a road that runs through France and Italy and straddles the cuisine of the two countries. It tends to draw in a mix of University staff and some sophisticated students. The concise menu is divided into small and large plates and also includes pizzas, pastas, sides and sweets. If you’re just stopping into A10 for a drink, make sure you order the salted cod croquettes as a bar snack. Another place you don’t want to miss is Uncle’s Joe’s Jerk Chicken. They specialize in Jerk Chicken but also wow customers with there impossibly tender curried goat and creamy mac and cheese.

  • A10 – 1462 E 53rd St

  • Lighthouse Foods – 1373 E 53rd St

  • Valois – 1518 E 53rd St

  • Medici – 1327 E 57th St

  • Rajun Cajun – 1459 E 53rd St

  • Piccolo Mondo – 1642 E 56th St

  • Pizza Capri – 1501 E 53rd St

  • Cafe 53 – 1369 E 53rd St

  • Ja Grill – 1510 E Harper Ct

  • Nile Restaurant – 1162 E 55th St

  • Native Foods Cafe – 1518 E Harper Court

  • Chant – 1509 E 53rd St

  • Seoul Corea – 1603 E 55th St

  • Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen – 1206 E 53rd St

  • Uncle Joe’s Jerk Chicken – 1461 E Hyde Park Blvd

  • Pho 55 – 1611 E 55th St

  • Windy’s – 1013 E 53rd St

  • Yusho – 1301 E 53rd St

  • Harold’s Chicken Shack – 1208 E 53rd St

  • The Snail – 1649 E 55th St

Nightlife

Hyde Park is an area that caters to an upscale crowd. Because of that, this isn’t the neighborhood to go to when you’re looking to have a wild night on the town. Most of the places here are much more relaxed and laid-back. Whether it’s grabbing a drink while you watch the game or taking a beautiful lady out for conversation and spirits, Hyde Park has you covered. You can go with a known commodity like Bar Louie, or check out a local, legendary place like Woodlawn Tap. Cove Lounge has a great beer selection and livens things up with random trivia nights. When you combine that with a great location right by Lake Michigan…you can’t miss! There’s a reason Hyde Park has reached the status it has, from the University of Chicago to the local dive bars, locals love what the neighborhood has to offer and you will too.

  • Falcon Inn – 1601 E 53rd St

  • Woodlawn Tap – 1172 E 55th St

  • The Cove Lounge – 1750 E 55th St

  • Promontory – 5311 S Lake Park Ave W

  • U of Chicago Pub – 1212 E 59th St

  • Bar Louie – 5500 S Shore Dr

  • Seven Ten – 1055 E 55th St

  • Checkerboard Lounge – 5201 S Harper Ct

  • The Pub – 1212 E 59th St

  • The Revival – 1160 E 55th St

  • The Sit Down – 1312 E 53rd St

  • Pork Chop – 1516 E Harper Ct