Chicago: Places to Explore


Hyde Park

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Hyde Park is something of a trek from downtown Chicago, but it's worth the extra effort. The community is rich in academic and cultural life, and it is also considered one of the country's most successfully integrated neighborhoods, which is reflected in everything from the people you'll meet on the street to the diverse cuisine available.

Best known as the home of the University of Chicago, the neighborhood began to see significant growth only in the late 19th century, when the university opened in 1892 and the World's Columbian Exposition attracted an international influx a year later. The exposition spawned the Midway Plaisance and numerous Classical Revival buildings, including the behemoth Museum of Science and Industry. The Midway Plaisance still runs along the southern edge of the University of Chicago's original campus. Sprawling homes were soon erected for school faculty in neighboring Kenwood, and the area began to attract well-to-do types who commissioned famous architects to build them spectacular homes.

A number of architecturally riveting buildings are here, including two by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Robie House and Heller House, as different as night and day. There are also a thriving theater scene and several art and history museums. Most impressive, though, is the diverse population, with a strong sense of community pride and fondness for the neighborhood's pretty tree-lined streets, proximity to the lake, and slightly off-the-beaten-path vibe.

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