So, most expansively, what I’d call Hyde Park extends from 47th Street to the Midway and from Lake Michigan to Cottage Grove. Some people really emphasize the distinction between (South) Kenwood and Hyde Park, but I don’t.
For almost 60 years, Hyde Park has been a proud, wholly artificial-seeming bubble in the midst of a sprawling black ghetto. 120 years ago, it was a swamp plus a thousand tons of earth dumped into the lake, conveniently accessible via rail. Today, portions of it need to be saved (or paved). Every tenth adult you meet is one of those eternal University hangers-on, while another tenth have made their relations with it (the University, that is) work.
There are grad students, working people, crackheads, neoliberals, and modestly successful 53rd Street gangsters… Think lakefront high-rises and walk-ups on 54th… There are bars on 55th Street, two Thai restaurants for every Thai person, bookstores on every major E-W thoroughfare, and like maybe even too many coffee shops, including that 24-hr Dunkin’ Donuts just off Dorchester – not to mention the whole Obama thing.
And the bubble is expanding, past 61st, 47th, and Washington Park. The future of said growth remains to be seen, especially since the recession hit and the Olympics fell through.
So, what is there to define that I cannot fully define? The parks are beautiful and the winters are frigid. We’re on the South Side, so you should root for the White Sox. I like it, I really do.
Hyde Park, Chicago: halfway between Englewood
, locked in its own strange subspace. The neighborhood that sort of works.