Hyde Park: an intricate, complicated, and beautiful neighborhood


Ava-Kelly Gray, News Editor/ Writer

The city of Chicago is very unique. Chicago has amazing neighborhoods that are rich in culture, and Hyde Park is just one of them. Hyde park was founded by Paul Cornell in 1853. Paul Cornell was an interesting person—he was originally born in England, but relocated to America. His cousin was Ezra Cornell, who was the founder of Cornell University. In 1853, Paul Cornell bought 300 acres of land just south of Chicago. He named the new area Hyde park Village after a large park in London. At first, Hyde Park was a swampy agricultural area, but it was soon converted into a suburban village.

Cornell built a hotel in Hyde Park and convinced wealthy Chicagoans to use the new suburb as an escape from urban city life. The hotel was so prestigious that President Abraham Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, stayed there. The hotel burned down in 1879 due to an unfortunate fire. Cornell still saw great potential, so he began selling year round homes in Chicago’s newest suburb, Hyde Park.

In 1890, the University of Chicago was developed and placed in Hyde Park. The University of Chicago brought a pristine student population to Hyde Park. This increased the population of the area and shaped the overall public image.

In the years between 1861 and 1889, Hyde Park was politically separated from Chicago. This meant that the suburb made its own political decisions. Unfortunately, Hyde Park did not operate well without the influence of Chicago. Chicago eventually annexed Hyde Park, which made the city’s resources accessible once again!

In the years before the 1950’s, Hyde Park was a predominantly white area. The residents ferociously attempted to keep African Americans out of the neighborhood. In 1948, the Shelley v. Kraemer court case banned the restrictive and elitist behavior. As a result of the new law, many African Americans moved to Hyde Park, which prompted diversity in the community.

As Hyde Park continues to grow and develop, it maintains a wonderful fusion of the old and the new. Hyde Park still has a street named after Cornell. The Hyde Park historical society building was constructed in 1894 and is housed in its original building, which is located on 55th and Lake Park. The Museum of Science and Industry building has been around since The Columbian Exposition and is still one of Illinois’ most renowned museums.

The neighborhood is self-sufficient. There are schools, museums, restaurants, entertainment options, churches, parks, grocery stores–you name it! It is a great neighborhood for families that is rich in character and culture. The area continues to grow and operate as its own small village.


Picture credit:

Original Hyde Park map- https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/collex/exhibits/university-chicago-centennial-catalogues/university-and-city-centennial-view-university-chicago/university-neighborhood/