An eclectic mix of residents and cultures, Hyde Park is one of Chicago’s most exciting neighborhoods.
Sitting 7 miles south of the Loop, Hyde Park’s beautiful architecture, world-class museums, and abundant green space make the neighborhood a true gem.
With intellectual energy flowing from the prestigious University of Chicago blending with a thriving cultural scene, Hyde Park has earned its “Culture Coast” nickname. And, with CTA bus lines and the Metra trains, residents have easy access to the Loop and beyond!
Hyde Park Neighborhood Guide
With people from all cultures and backgrounds moving around each other in a beautiful blur, Hyde Park feels like nowhere else in Chicago.
A Thriving Cultural Scene
The area is known for its great museums, beautiful architecture, and exciting festivals. Hyde Park museums are the main attraction, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Oriental Institute Museum, the Renaissance Society, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.
A local classic is the Hyde Park Jazz Fest. The two-day event draws wonderful music, great food, and tons of music enthusiasts. Other great festivals include 57th Street Art Fair, a two-day celebration of local artists, and The Hyde Park Brew Fest, featuring over 30 different breweries. Theater enthusiasts will love the Court Theater and film fans will love the Harper Theater and Doc Films.
While the University of Chicago is no party school (do ‘study parties’ count?), Hyde Park still offers an active nightlife and bar scene. The student classic is the Woodlawn Tap. Enjoy a nice beer selection (served by PhDs) and enjoy the raucous collegiate atmosphere. Falcon Inn on 53rd St is the local dive bar, with cheap beers and friendly locals. Another great option is Seven Ten Lanes, with bowling and beer in its art deco interior.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if Hyde Park’s diversity didn’t extend to its food? Thankfully, that’s not the case. Offering cuisines from across the globe, neighborhood eateries range from dives to fine dining. Local favorites include The Promontory, serving modern American and offering live music, La Petite Folie, a mouthwatering fine-dining French spot, and Medici, an Italian restaurant popular with college students. A local breakfast spot, Valois, is a favorite of former resident (and President) Barack Obama.
Hyde Park Shopping
Most of the businesses in Hyde Park are located on the thriving 53rd, 55th, and 57th streets. With a particularly intellectual population, one of Hyde Park’s specialties is its bookstores. Favorites include 57th St. Books, Powell’s Books, and Seminary Co-op Bookstore, the world’s largest academic bookstore.
Not every store is a bookstore (thankfully!). Other favorites include Silver Umbrella, a top resale clothes stores, Hyde Park Records, with a huge selection of vinyl records, and Modern Cooperative, selling home goods, jewelry, and furniture. In the summer, the Hyde Park Farmers Market features some of the Midwest’s best produce.
While the neighborhood is rightly acclaimed for its culture and other attractions, that leaves its nature a little underappreciated. With pristine Lake Michigan shoreline, top swimming beaches, and leafy parks, nature in Hyde Park is as beautiful as the architecture.
Some spots worth your time include Promontory Point, a lovely man-made peninsula extending out into Lake Michigan and, to the south, Jackson Park. Among many amenities, Jackson Park features a tranquil Japanese Garden.
Hyde Park History
Hyde Park’s fascinating history is sprinkled with well-known writers, Nobel Prize-winners, and even a former U.S. President.
The neighborhood was founded by Paul Cornell in 1853 as an affluent area for Chicago businessmen and their families. Connected to the Illinois Central Railroad (today the Metra), the population grew steadily to over 18,000 residents by 1880. Hyde Park became part of Chicago in 1889.
The University of Chicago and Columbian Exposition
Hyde Park boomed in the late-1800s. The University of Chicago was founded in 1891 through the philanthropy of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. With the goal to create a school on par with the Ivy League, Rockefeller gave over $35 million (today nearly $1 billion).
The other major event in the century was The Colombian Exposition in 1893. The major attraction was the “White City”, a lavish neo-classical landscape. The World’s Fair immeasurably raised Chicago’s international profile. While the White City wasn’t designed to last, the magnificent Museum of Science and Industry and the Statue of the Republic remain.
Between 1890 to 1950, Hyde Park grew from 18,000 residents to over 55,000. In these years, many significant architects worked in the neighborhood including Frank Lloyd Wright, who built the famous Robie House here in 1910.
As many residents moved to the Chicago suburbs, the 1950s saw an economic decline. To counteract this decline, The University of Chicago sponsored a massive urban renewal plan. The plan was successful– if controversial–leading to the stable, middle-class Hyde Park enjoyed today.
Hyde Park Homes
Those looking to buy or rent in the area have their pick of a range of great housing options. In addition to its stately mansions, Hyde Park offers pre-war and modern high-rises, lofts, townhomes, and more affordable single-family homes. A vibrant, diverse area populated by students, families, and long-time residents, Hyde Park is a destination for visitors and home seekers alike. Come check it out!