Susan O’Connor Davis is the founder of the Kenwood Improvement Association. Portions of this article were originally published in O’Connor Davis’ book Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park.
The University of Chicago announced on January 26 that over the course of this year, the nonprofit South East Chicago Commission (SECC) will gain considerable independence from the university. Much of the SECC’s university funding will be cut, and the university will no longer be able to appoint or approve the organization’s board members. According to both parties, the move reflects the SECC’s need to reevaluate its direction as an organization.
Start with the University. You must, because its gravitational force–money, prestige, vision–is what constitutes Hyde-Park-as-such in the first place, gives it its distinctive topography and limits. Without the UofC, Hyde Park would long ago have dissolved into the surrounding South Side. And yet the University’s directive force only sculpts the neighborhood-scape to a certain extent. Into its crevices and blind spots, the South Side languidly but ineluctably flows, filling in available space, moving over when diverted, then back again.
Merlyn MacFarland is an Uber cab driver who lives in Kenwood on Drexel Avenue. Continue reading
But when them red lights came on in the recording studio, it was like a bell ringing in a boxing match and I did it.” Continue reading
The Chicago bungalow—sturdy, low slung and emblematic—is here to stay. Perfect roosts for big shoulders, bungalows account for almost one-third of Chicago’s single family housing today, and have been an aesthetic and residential staple in the lives of Chicago communities and families for over one hundred years. Most sit arced in a crescent framing the western swath of Chicago—from Lincoln Square in the north, through the West Side to Auburn Gresham in the southwest and down to kiss the lake at South Shore. This so-called “bungalow belt” fosters some 80,000 residences and eighteen historic neighborhoods. A true Chicago bungalow must meet several criteria, including a construction date between 1910-1940, a brick face with a stone trim, a low-pitched roof, and an offset entrance, often on the side. These, among others, allow for conservationists to identify and help preserve historic bungalows as a distinctly Chicago architectural style. (Jack Nuelle)
The Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods are much more than a pit stop for architectural tours of Chicago. Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts get a special kick in witnessing not one, but two of the architect’s most acclaimed works located within just six blocks of one another: the Robie House and the Isidore H. Heller House. As classic examples of Wright’s Prairie School style—a design intended to evoke prairie surroundings and meld with the Midwestern landscape—the cultural significance of these two homes speaks for itself, without any tour guide explanations. Continue reading