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Hyde Park is one of the most famous and quirky neighborhoods in Chicago. Many famous and important events happened in Hyde Parks short history. It is the location of the first sustained nuclear reaction, first Heisman trophy, the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder, the 1893 World’s Fair, home of the University of Chicago with over 80 Nobel Laureates, the Museum of Science and Industry, stunning parks and lakefront views, along with the birthplace of improv comedy and the first issue of Playboy magazine. Lastly in 2008 the citizens of the United States elected Barack Obama, a local Hyde Parker, to be president of the USA!
Hyde Park also has a beautiful location in the city, bordered by Jackson Park to the south, Washington Park to the west, Lake Michigan to the east and the stunning mansions of Kenwood to the north. On a summer day the beaches offer an excellent place to swim and the parks have lovely walks. Because of the many parks and lagoons Hyde Park is a major stop over for many migratory birds. During the wintertime it is even possible to spot swans on the lake at 57th Street Beach.
Hyde Park is home to several stunning museums including the Museum of Science and Industry, Oriental Institute of Chicago, Smart Museum, Robie House and DuSable Museum of African American History. For more information read the article: Museums in Chicago
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Jackson Park is a stellar park along the lake just south of the Museum of Science and Industry. The park was originally the location of the 1893 World’s Fair. The fair grounds were covered in a white city that looked like ancient Rome. The only building that was meant to be permanent is the current Museum of Science and Industry. The only other existing feature of the park that was around during the fair is the Wooden Island located in the logon. The Japanese Gardens of the fair has been restored and is open to the public. The park has great biking trails and is an excellent green space. If going to the Museum of Science and Industry there is free parking located right by the Henry Crown Space Center, which is also an entrance to the museum. Exit Lake Shore Drive just beyond 57th Street exit, to go behind the museum to the marina and free parking.
The other famous event that involved the park was the gruesome Leopold and Loeb murder of 1924. The two bright young men believed they were Nietzschean supermen and decided they would commit the perfect crime. After kidnapping their own cousin they killed the child and placed the body in Indiana. When the body was found the two men claimed to be golfing in Jackson Park. The only reason why the two men were convicted was because Leopold left his glasses at the scene of the crime. The glasses had a special hinge on them that only three men had on their glasses in all of Chicago. The two men confessed and were sentenced to life in prison after a famous tail in which they were defended by Clarence Darrow.
Washington Park is a nice park located on the western edge of the neighborhood and bordered by the CTA Green Line Train. This park offers a great green space and has nice Biking trails plus playing fields for baseball, soccer, cricket and ultimate frisbee. More soccer and football fields are located in Jackson Park. If Chicago is awarded the 2016 Olympic Games the main stadium will be built in Washington Park and several other events will be held in the park. Washington Park can get dangerous at night and is recommended to avoid it late at night.
The Promontory Point, called The Point by locals, this park is a manmade peninsula. The open green space in the center of the peninsula is used for sports and picnics. There are several fire rings located around the edge with great Lake Michigan views, this one of the few parks in the city where people can have open fires in the fire rings. The park offers great views of downtown from the south on a clear day. Lastly there is a very popular illegal beach off the rocks on the north side of The Point. Remember, although many people swim here, it is illegal; there are no lifeguards and the police can give you a ticket.
There are several nice beaches in and near Hyde Park. Unlike the north side beaches most of these beaches have plenty of free parking and don't get as crowded on the weekends. Also many of these beaches will rent boats and other stuff for a small fee.
There are many lovely houses in the Hyde Park Kenwood area. This is mainly due to the face that in the 19th century many of Chicago's great industrialists lived in Hyde Park or Kenwood. The best way to enjoy them is to drive or bike around southern Kenwood, which is bordered by Hyde Park blvd to the south, 47th Street to the north, Cottage Grove to the west and Lake Park blvd to the east.
There is some street shopping along 53rd street between Lake Park and Kenwood. Two medium sized out door shopping centers in Hyde Park are located in this area.
If driving to Hyde Park the best way is to take Lake Shore Drive south to 57th street or take 90/94 to 55th street and drive east till the street intersects with Cottage Grove. If coming from the south suburbs or Indiana it is best to take the Sky Way or 90/94 to Stony Island and go north till 61st Street.
The number 2, 6, 10 and X 28 buses run back and forth from downtown to Hyde Park.
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Driving around Hyde Park can be difficult because many streets are one way streets. It would best to stick to 57th, 55th, 53rd and 51st Street for east-west streets. Stick to Woodlawn and Cottage Grove for north-south streets.
The 55th street bus runs east-west through Hyde Park. The number 6 Bus runs north-south on the east side of the neighborhood
If visiting the area around the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry walking is fine. If wanting to see the old houses around Kenwood a bike or a car would be useful.
Bike trails go north and south along the lakefront on the east side of Hyde Park. Most of the streets are very bike friendly.
Hyde Park does not have many super fancy restaurants but it does have some amazing local places that have some great food. The main commercial areas in Hyde Park are 57th Street, 55th Street and 53rd Street.
Hyde Park does not have the clubs or bars with the 4 am liquor licenses of the north side but it does have several nice neighborhood pubs. Also the bars in Hyde Park are much cheaper then the north side watering holes. Most of the bars are located on 55th Street but there are a few on their own.
There is talk of building some larger and newer hotels in Hyde Park but they are still on the drawing board. Currently the only hotel in Hyde Park is the Ramada Inn located at 4900 S Lake Shore Drive. This is a pretty basic place and it is better to stay downtown. There are also a few bed and breakfasts located around the neighborhood that are good.
There is an internet cafe located on 55th Street near South Shore Drive. There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
Blackstone Branch - Is located at 4905 South Lake Park Ave. This small branch is in a very pretty building and has a good recreational collection.
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