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A city within a city, Hyde Park / Kenwood is one of the South Side’s most scenic and affluent neighborhoods. The neighborhood is anchored by the University of Chicago, one of the nation’s top research institutions, which has a far-reaching influence on the surrounding community.
Hyde Park was the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, an event that would shape the neighborhood for generations. Washington and Jackson parks, two of Chicago’s largest and most impressive Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks, are the most visible remnants from the World Fair. The Daniel Burnham-designed Museum of Science & Industry is the only remaining building from the expo, as most of the structures were temporary.
A century later, Hyde Park / Kenwood is the South Side’s cultural heart. The neighborhood boasts an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bookstores, and its residents enjoy some of the city’s best lakefront property.
Public Amenities, Services, Civic Organizations
In addition to Hyde Park / Kenwood’s impressive outdoor spaces, there’s plenty to do inside. Art flourishes at the Hyde Park Art Center, a state-of-the-art facility with artist studios and pottery classes. For less hands-on art appreciation, the U of C’s Smart Museum of Art has an excellent collection of modern paintings and sculptures.
Located at the northern end of Jackson Park, The Museum of Science & Industry is one of the country’s top science museums, and it features an I-MAX movie theater. Further west on 57th Street, the Oriental Institute houses priceless artifacts from the Far East. The DuSable Museum, a museum of African American history and culture located in Washington Park, rounds off the museum tour.
Hyde Park / Kenwood’s housing stock is split pretty evenly between vintage courtyard apartment and condo buildings, single-family homes and tall high-rises that hug the lakeshore. Several gut-rehab courtyard condo developments have been added to the neighborhood in recent years. The renovated Shoreland Hotel on South Shore Drive will add several hundred new rental apartments to the neighborhood. Roughly one-third of Hyde Park homes are owner-occupied; the rest are rental apartments.
Commuters enjoy a number of options for getting to and from Hyde Park / Kenwood. The fastest and most comfortable ride to downtown Chicago is provided by Metra Electric, which has stations at 59th, 57th, 53rd, and 51st streets. The #6 express bus, which takes Lake Shore Drive to the Loop, is a reliable alternative. The #55 bus takes Hyde Park / Kenwood residents to Midway Airport in about 30 minutes.
Shopping, Dining and Nightlife
For groceries, Hyde Park / Kenwood has a number of options, ranging from the new Treasure Island specialty store to the more modest Hyde Park Produce andVillage Foods.
Students tend to gravitate to Hyde Park’s many ethnic food eateries, including The Snail (Thai), Cedars (Mediterranean), and Rajun Cajun (Indian). The Medici Bakery and Café is a neighborhood institution, and it’s the first stop many visitors make in the ‘hood. Around the corner from Valois’, redevelopment has begun on Harper Court, Hyde Park / Kenwood’s primary shopping district. When finished, Harper Court will include new retail and office space, a movie theater, and a hotel.
Professors at the University of Chicago send their young to the U of C Lab School, an excellent primary and second school located on the university campus. For non-university-affiliated families, Kenwood Academy, located on Lake Park Avenue, is one of the better public school options.