|Tracking Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Trends|
In partnership with the community since 1949
A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website www.hydepark.org. Join the Conference, help support our support of community objectives.
by Gary Ossewaarde, board member of the Conference
Visit the new Homepage at http://www.hydepark.org. The homepage of the rest of the site (including here) is at http://www.hydeparkrecord.org. Navigator/index.
To Part II-by community goals and standards. To Developing Neighborhood Goals. To Hot Topics home. To HPKCC News. To Urban Renewal and Hyde Park Modern Timelines.
Features: see Neighborhood Profiles of Hyde Park
What we learned from community workshop, What's Right, What's Wrong with Hyde Park.
Occasional printed Reflections on the state and direction of the neighborhood. More in Business Climate and Development detail.
Visit 2008 round up
What this page is about
HPKCC Mission Statement
The purpose of the Conference is to attend to the civic needs of the community; work toward an attractive, secure, diverse, and caring community; and to promote participation of residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations in programs and activities that advance the interests and concerns of the community. It serves the community as a watchdog, independent voice, and clearing house in the community's ongoing conversation and decisions about those matters which affect and define community life.
How are the residents and businesses, institutions, and organizations small and large working to pursue goals such as those set forth above by the HPKCC for this complex, strongly self-identifying community? How are we doing on the structural basics that make a community desirable, such as good schools, public safety, thriving business and culture, ease of getting around, a variety of affordable housing options? And are our decision-making and planning, and the results of such, as inclusive as they could be?--and to what degree can the community be said to be inclusive, welcoming, and sustainable?
- How are we managing changes and forces, from within and without, so as to keep and enhance "quality of life" for the whole community and for each of its spatial and demographic parts? Do we think and plan ahead (in whole and in part)? How do we balance being forward-looking, even adventurous, and preserving and burnishing our assets?
- Are we growing and engaging each others and neighbors while maintaining a community where a wide range of people can afford to live, feel safe, and choose?
- How well are a growing university (with new active neighborhood centers outside its traditional campus) and a mature neighborhood (but in some places growing, being transformed) working together--and listening to each other?
- How and how well do these parts engage and work together while honoring the distinctiveness of each?
- Do we, and how well do we keep our community welcoming to newcomers and to change?
- How do we engage with neighboring communities and the whole emerging mid-South Side? How well do we work with yet hold our own against the city- its people, interests, government?
- How are Hyde Parkers envisioning their future? Is there "a" (or many) visions for Hyde Park?
HPKCC has in the 20th century been among several furthering the discussion through a series of community forums, including What's Right and What's Wrong with Hyde Park, and those on the Future of 53rd Street and of Harper Court and the former Hyde Park Co-op, and has assembled the major civic organizations in conversation and priority and project-planning. So have South East Chicago Commission, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, 53rd TIF Advisory Council, Hyde Park Alliance for Arts and Culture, and others. Pages in this website and in the Conference Reporter (available to our dues-paying members) and e-newsletter (ask about these at email@example.com), and through cooperative engagement with elected officials, institutions, many other organizations and ad hoc groups tell much of the story. (See Neighborhood Websites and E-links, Collaborers in the Community, Community Nonprofit Organizations, Community Resources for some of these latter.)
It is encouraging that issues of problem-solving and engagement for HPK and the entire South Side are being addressed by many forums, institutions, and organizations, including the University of Chicago, Interfaith Open Communities, Older Women's League, committees of the 53rd St. TIF, and emerging organizations (including equitable housing) large and small. We will keep you apprised of these in Community Meetings and Announcements. See also Community Organizations, Community Resources, and Neighborhood Resource Links, Creating Neighborhood Goals and Quality of Life.
Currently, this page will note and attempt to draw together many threads and trends of community developments and changes presented in the pages of the www.hydepark.org website, fill in gaps, and venture some general observations--observations that we hope you will challenge, or ask us to explore more closely.
Our object is not to just look for problems but to identify our assets--the folks, the groups, the spaces and places in which people come together or are familiar as "home"--that create communities and are making good things happen at all layers, from micro-blocks to our larger chunk of the South Side, Chicago. Maybe we can move on to linking the best our assets can be into a larger vision that still includes, advances and respects all the parts.
More is found in the home and subsidiary pages of our committees such as Condos-Coops, Parks, Schools, Transit home, Transit Task Force, Whistlestop and Community Safety Focus and from such webplexes as Education, History and Preservation, Parks, Public Safety, Transitweb,
and topic pages such as Affordable Housing home, Village, and Ending Homelessness, Development and Public Policy, Business Climate, TIF News, Zoning Reform, CAPS, Art and Culture News, University and Community. See also discussions about the Harper Theater and Harper Court.
For entree to others' views, visit the Community Organizations, Community Resources, Collaborers in the Community, Religion, and Neighborhood Resource Links. Be sure also to visit the History and Preservation pages. For depth visit About HPKCC and and Urban Renewal and Beyond: Timelines.
We start with a baseline:
happenings and trends in the structural components of the community (potential assets for community development if you will). A comments section follows. You are invited to identify trends and send your comments.
Afterwards, visit Part II: what's happening with a few neighborhood concerns and expressed objectives and standards.
Index to the Community Components below:
- Commercial districts, 53rd Street (see also TIF district) (Visit Development homepage--what's in play)
- Community organizations
- Elected Officials
- Healthcare providers
- Institutions (except UC)
- Lakefront and The Point
- Parking, mobility, walkability
- Parks and open space, environment
- Public Safety
- Schools and education
- Social Services
- TIF district
- University of Chicago (More in University and Community page, opposition to some UC policies boils over)
- University of Chicago Hospitals (see also Health Care delivery page)
Top of page
The state of local community structures and institutions as a baseline for discerning trends:
Developments and Directions
The Ad Hoc Committee for 53rd St. in the early 1990s, studies such as the 2000 Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District, formation of the 53rd TIF in 2001, zoning designation of 53rd from Lake Park to Kenwood as a pedestrian-friendly overlay district (incorporated in 2004 Zoning Ordinance), various Visioning exercises, and heavy University of Chicago-led investment particularly at 53rd and Lake Park show the seriousness of efforts to revitalize yet keep and enhance the special character of the central business street and integrating it with nearby streets of different but complimentary character, such as auto-oriented Lake Park. (See Development Hot Topics home, Development Home, TIF News, 53rd Street News, Business Climate, Development and Public Policy, Zoning Reform.)Harper Court home, City Hyde Park.
Retail development and values (assessment) have lagged residential development despite dearth of land and perhaps reflected at times by growing vacancies contradicting a high overall commercial occupancy. Many hope for a new retail mix but have different visions of what that means: Some want larger chain stores brought into the mix; some are most concerned about retaining small locally-owned retail (i.e. the "original purpose" for Harper Court); most want more variety of stores and missing kinds of stores and regulation of scale, height, street front, streetscape, signage and oppose more strips with a parking lot in front. There is also the problem of the surrounding market neighborhoods being lower income and population (gradually changing) and areas without customers--the Lake and the big parks. Companies look for a certain income and density oomph within various distance circles. Hyde Park nonetheless has certain unique pluses including the University and its clientelle, the lakefront, a major stable belt, and high rise belts, as well as its unique character and mix of historic structures .
There has been some new development and vacancies remain tight with a few glaring exceptions.
Progress appears slow despite the huge Harper Court going up and the Theater block being redeveloped, partly because it takes so long for projects to pass community and city hurdles then get a green light, and to get city permits and be built (Some of the latter is being reformed by the city.) And anything new seems to need tax or U of C subsidy. The first new building that gave tax increment, Borders, died despite UC subsidy-- it is now being rebuilt on new design and the first space has been rented. A particular stalling point for 53rd is that some development and the parking that many believe is essential is dependent on development bringing tax increment to pay for a city garage and other improvements- Decisions take time--many think way too much time on projects such as the Theater/Herald buildings, Mobil-former McDonald's site, 53rd Cornell (now become a parking lot for MAC residential buildings). Other drawbacks are parking deficit (being reinterpreted) , vacancies, slow Metra and vicinity revitalization (some was done adn there is at last a tenant in the station), activities considered by many deleterious, deteriorating or hard to adapt structures, weak retail mix, gaps in the business blocks) inability to get HPers to shop at home or attract a larger clientele (esp. as nearby neighborhoods redevelop commercially). Can HP both bring in a suite of destinations and again serve the needs of locals? There is concern but hope for revitalization further down 53rd including Kimbark Plaza. Further development along Lake Park such as City Hyde Park may also build heft. Streetscape has been significantly revitalized, although that has stalled. And new nightlife such as the Checkerboard and Kleiner restaurant and increasingly more financially solid quality establishments are coming in- though a lot the UC brings in is fast food. And Antheus/MAC has brought back the Del Prado and East View and filled the commercial spaces.
Groups furthering revitalization are the TIF council, HPKCC< South East Chicago Commission, Chamber of Commerce, U of C. Return to list of components (index).
To watch: success of Harper Court and what it brings in. Reception what is provided by way of parking. Seeing something really done but with principles and community input-- at Harper Court, Mobil MCDonald, 53rd/Cornell, Doctors.... filling vacancies.
Also, there is no doubt that numerous Hyde Parkers are worried that the 53rd TIF (and its new spinoff for City Hyde Park) has recently increasingly been a transfer to developers and local institutions. What is not so clear is whether the situation is truly that "But For" these developments will not be done. A tipping point may come with whether the University seeks a subsidy from the TIF for Mobil-McDonalds and whether there will be any money left for that.
Other commercial districts
Progress is being made filling vacancies on 55th and 57th. 55th Lake Park to east of Everett, is more and more joining 57th Kimbark to Lake Park (with gaps in both) as nightlife and ethnically diverse restaurant rows. Bar Louis at 5500 S. Shore and future plans for the Shoreland extend the trend. 55th further west is showing signs of life with the immensely popular Seven Ten restaurant-bar-and bowling/billiards and Starbucks at 55th and Woodlawn next to Jimmy's (all in UC buildings). Of course, there is stability, too. Work on the large City Hyde Park (Lake Park and HP Blvd.) may start in 2013.
return to component index
HPK is rich in organizations and large and small groups, permanent and ad hoc. But there is no generalist, umbrella clearinghouse organization other than Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. South East Chicago Commission is the other one closest to fitting that role and is much more powerful and well funded, with a suite of quality-of-life and development foci and initiatives, but its focus is not comprehensive and it is only partially community-based, largely an extension of the University, with a suite of community and business leaders and contributors drawn from a large spectrum of the engaged community and its organizations and institutions. Like HPKCC (1949), it goes back a long way (1952) and has had major, defining effects on the direction of the community. Like the Conference, it has evolved much over the years A more direct arm of the University but not really a community organization, the Civic Knowledge Project seeks to provide training and resources to organizations and to engage across neighborhood "boundaries." (A significant trend--Hyde Park organizations are much more ready to spill over or disregard such boundaries.) Collaboration seems to be the hallmark of the day, including with HPKCC taking the lead in convening the organizations for both thinking proactively about the community and project-based actions and investigations. SECC, the TIF, and the Chamber take the lead in business corridor community visioning.
The Chamber of Commerce under two dynamic executive directors and an active board has lately sought to greatly extend its role and mission, providing services as well as impetus and coordination to businesses, has grown in membership and networking opportunities, and has brought in new community events and festivals.
The Interfaith Open Communities and allies has been up and down but is a presence.
The Older Women's League although small has worked on community improvements including infrastructure friendliness and sharing of information seniors need, and works with newer groups such as Coalition for Equitable Community Development (affordable housing and related-- largely working behind the scenes and negotiating with large owners and managers) and Hyde Park Village. The later has helped grow online and other communication among residents.
Hyde Park Historical Society has really expanded its public programs and advocacy and has great moral authority. The Hyde Park League of Women Voters and the Independent Voters of Illinois on the other hand have declined in vitality.
Keeping alive and updating the old area umbrella idea of promoting racial and other diversity, public safety and facilities upgrades are the very old Kenwood Open House Committee and the new Kenwood Improvement Association. These have weakened in recent years.
There are host of newer ad hoc and ongoing groups such as Friends of Hyde Park Kenwood Public Schools (working with the HPKCC Schools Committee and Friends support groups for several area schools), South Side Parent engage with the park and school advisory councils, which in turn work with the older umbrella organizations such as HPKCC and SECC, aldermen, and citywide advocacy, civic planning and service organizations (Friends of the Parks, PURE, Metropolitan Planning Organization, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Open Lands, Chicago Cares..... Several larger urban and South Side organizations have become increasingly active in the neighborhood--including LISC/Quad Cities. Many Hyde Park persons and organizations participate in Woodlawn revitalization efforts. Networking has crossed the horizon.
Highly engaged in increasingly broader facets of community life are what used to be "issue" groups such as those for "peace and justice" and "against war and racism", many part of faith-based coalitions, and in turn working with the civic and socially active Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council.
Social services continue to strive - and struggle: The Blue Gargoyle is gone, Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project not only provides a small safety net but draws many residents and groups together.
Key in the social services and recreational field has been (since 1909) the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club for infants through youth. It has though ceased to be an all-ages center and is said to increasingly price out the less affluent. It, like many others, needs to extend its private support base. Intriguing new models have arisen: Southside Hub of Production (formerly Op Shop) which seeks to create as true multivariate arts, social, and political center, related Hyde Park Transitions, and the Hyde Park Village.
Arts and culture is our great pride, a very rich asset (see our culture venues page and cultural calendar as well as Community Events.) Of course, a favorite lament is a lack (often exaggerated and often not taken advantage of ) nightlife entertainment--"Where Fun Comes to Die." There's often a vast range of choices going on at once.
Assets range from museums and galleries, art fairs and public sculpture (dense in a city that has the most public sculpture of any city in North America at least) to music from U of C and so many other concert and ensemble groups, increasing jazz, a growing bevy of coffee houses-many with art and music-- , bookstores, galleries and church/synagogues, to outdoor summer concerts. Bookstores and libraries are a glory. So are museums, but the private gallery scene is weak (exceptions abound). The key spark of course is the University of Chicago, increasingly reaching out to and programming in communities, by both conventional vehicles and new ones such as the Civic Knowledge/Enhancing Assets Project.
Hyde Park Art Center has opened an enthusiastically received new, large state-of-the-art home. The University has brought the Checkerboard Lounge to Harper Court --many wish that more music (example jazz) and other night venues would return to the neighborhood. This wish is partly thwarted (as for galleries) by high property values and rents as well a dearth of suitable and suitably sized commercial space. University art departments and Smart Museum increasingly bring programs and art into the community, including the increasingly active Blackstone Branch Library and its Friends of Blackstone.
A player that will be increasingly important should it sell the shopping center will be Harper Court Arts Council or successor.
Ethnic restaurants do well, but the mix has a growing proportion of fast food places. Coffee shops, including many that have music, forums, debates, internet access and more, struggle or fold--we will see what happens with more opened or coming! The neighborhood is full of musicians, artists, and thinkers.To the 2002 Neighborhood Cultural Use Survey, released in 2004. (In our Development and Policy page.)
Smart Museum has become truly a major city museum and has grown and contributed immensely A next challenge is physical expansion, a challenge that the University also faces for other of its arts--it is thinking of a new center south of Midway Studios. The museums in Hyde Park have hosted a number of outstanding exhibits in recent years despite financial pressures. Oriental Institute Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, landmarks and historic resources, continue to draw and contribute. The major draw to the area has long been the Museum of Science and Industry (often the only Hyde Park venue identified on "tourist" maps). some wish it would engage more and draw more into the neighborhood.
Hyde Parkers are very interested in the controversies and ups and downs of Park District-run South Shore Cultural Center. They want it to remain and grow (including in the upper floors) as a regional South Side arts venue and teaching center.
Our elected officials and independent tradition have long been viewed a major asset in this community. Whether one agrees with particular policies or general policy thrust of federal and state representatives and aldermen, our officials definitely listen, are proactive, and think strategically. They also have long reaches that enable them to bring assets and services to the neighborhood, although there is said to be an erosion of "independence." State Representative Currie is House Majority Leader; Senator Obama successfully ran for the U.S. Senate. There are questions about the process to select successors. The boundaries of districts through the neighborhood make the neighborhood more influential than it might otherwise be while encouraging Hyde Parkers to seek out common issues and allies in the surrounding South Side neighborhoods. HPK also contributes many non-elected officials to all levels of government, businesses, and nonprofits.
The University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System is "excellent", strong and growing in home base size and its regional suite of local providers, indeed its worldwide network and draw. It is one of the top Medicare and Medicaid providers in Illinois. It is increasingly involved in community outreach. Its accelerating expansion has irked many who have been and will be forced to move and raised questions about impact in other parts of the neighborhood.
Evidence of the troubled state of healthcare and local fallout thereof is that fewer large local providers of care remain. Advocate closed its HMO Hyde Park practice. At the same time, the University of Chicago Hospitals says it can no longer continue to provide deliveries by its midwives (who have a strong following to judge by a flood of letters to the Herald). The handling of this matter raises troubling questions about effects on community viability and quality of life. On the other hand, there is so much outreach by the Hospitals, help in getting housing and childcare and reconnecting patients to outside physicians and clinics
Housing (more above in Afford-
ability and Housing in page 2). Visit Affordable Housing Info and Forum
Housing is basically saturated and stable, with a continuing rehab and upscaling, in the neighborhood proper. Parts of neighboring areas are undergoing development and change to higher scales. Much of the solid-substantial stock is aging and expensive to keep up, with rising taxes. There are several disturbing signs. One is that condo conversions are again accelerating and there have been some teardowns and buildouts. Rents, which have been in check with moorages having been cheap, are expected to start rising more sharply.
Affordability is already a problem for many and is widely expected to get worse in light of rising values. A Chicago Rehab network lists only 24 "affordable" rental units in the area; officials say there is no affordable housing here, period. There being little land and the growing markets and provision cater to upscale dense housing (and temptation to tear-down and infill) despite mixed income set-asides. Rental, SRO, seniors, large family-low cost, and less elaborate units seldom are built or rebuilt/rehabbed as such. (To the north, and somewhat to the south, many developments now require a mix of low-income, affordable/subsidized, and market rate units, but the results are as yet untested or undefined.) Congressman Davis and other congressmen have new coalitions and funding for first-time affordable homeowning, and some encouragement was enacted into state law in 2004. The University is partnering to fund maintaining buildings in surrounding neighborhoods as affordable rental. some are thinking of a community development corporation. See Affordable Housing Ap. 2006 Forum, Affordability Information, Ending Homelessness on local efforts and many other aspects of the question.
Proposals to direct zoning toward controlling density and coverage, preserving street character, and directing density to transportation nodes, and allowing more residential mix with retail are not expected to have much effect in most of the neighborhood anytime soon, especially since the aldermen simply grandfathered most zoning. However, apparent victory in an effort to avoid increasing off street parking requirements, by neighborhood, green, affordable-housing, and transit advocacy groups, working with developers, could ease pressures, especially due to new, more affordable units being built in surrounding neighborhoods.
Crowding continues in the desirable, upscale Indian Village-Triangle.
Pockets of old, possibly substandard three and 4 flat packed blocks, remain, particularly in the northwest and the west edge, encouraging pockets of drug and gang activity. A continuing and possibly growing trend is "problem" buildings and landlords even in pricier sections, especially as time runs on older, mediocre-construction or hard-to-market properties, some beset by city facade and other mandates.
Streets, piping etc. are largely well kept up, but there is an endless battle with our extreme weather and with age (some over a century) and the weight and vibration of trucks and buses. Many sidewalks remain in poor repair, although the pace of replacement has picked up in recent years--sometimes of poor quality. Some of this is due to co-payment and responsibility rules which are only slowly being changed. Too many corners, etc. are too sharp or not visible. Many believe there are too many cul de sacs and one-way streets (although streets are quite narrow and definitely pre-automobile here) while some arteries that were deliberately created to ease congestion have become speedways--55th, Lake Park especially. Many of our streets are traffic clogged at many times of day, perhaps most of all narrow South Hyde Park Blvd, made worse by proliferating bus routes.
Lighting is at least fair, although some especially in parks is considered insufficient and other not environment and neighbor friendly. A major concern is the age of our sewer and water mains and electrical cables and transformers. Many complain about insufficient cable, telephone lines, etc. Most of the flooding and insufficient water problems have been solved in recent years. (Gas lines have been replaced in recent years--but there have been spectacular main breaks in winter.) No, a high proportion of Hyde Parkers do not clean their walks in winter. return to component index
Institutions, other than UC.
Akiba-Schechter/Rodfei Zedek /Jewish Community Center
These community institutions, especially the growing cluster of theological schools spread through the neighborhood, serve as both local stabilizers and enhancers of property values and bring many new and diverse residents into the neighborhood. They do create stresses as they grow and seek to expand facilities and are seen as sometimes increasing demand for parking and streetspace and sequestering housing--sometimes removing properties off the tax rolls.
New JCC's still growing campus has revitalized area north of 53rd/Cornell.
Augustana Ch. Expanded, eliminating small garden/open space, but the west addition is considered a real improvement. Often hosts cultural events. Catholic Theological Union Stabilizing and adding vibrant element in a major sector of East Hyde Park. Neighbors were reassured that parking will increase in their major new expansion. The reuse of adjacent Cornell Towers did take housing off the market. Chicago Theological Seminary CTS has long been a major force for change. There is talk that its dorm McGiffert House could be opened to housing affordable to some seniors. Expansion was successfully negotiated. Du Sable Museum Expanding in Washington Park, partly adaptive reuse of historic building. A growing asset helped by state and federal funds. Hosts both important exhibits and events and civic forums. McCormick Seminary The recent campus in Lutheran quadrangle is beautiful although construction created inconvenience. Adds to institutional synergy. UC bought and reused the old campus for an alumni facility with sensitivity to neighbors. Meadville Sem. Expansion plans, although on hold, are seen as an example of institutional creep, but also of engagement with the community to limit impact and preserve a significant historic streetscape element. Long term outcome remains undetermined; intervention by U of C boded well for resolution. Museum of Sci. & Industry A pillar. It has expanded several times into Jackson Park in recent decades (likewise La Rabida Hosp.) and has legal permission to do so again. Some perceive weak Museum engagement with the community. Although most museum visitors do not venture into the neighborhood, were MSI not a big draw and so necessarily be on the tourist and auto maps, Hyde Park might have no mention there at all--the injustice of this absence seems to fall on deaf ears, even to the city. The lakefront, The Point
Strong park councils and other activists take the lead in defending and seeking improvements on our lakefront without overwhelming the lakefront's "character". This has generally been the case for diversified-asset Jackson Park for over 20 years (actually long before there were councils). An important trend is efforts to increase both volunteer stewardship and educational/social group involvement in the parks, including possibly also organizations created to conserve particular assets. Another is better public involvement, as with redesign, expansion, and shore protection projects.
But when an iconic asset is involved, such as (in the 60's) keeping the trees along the Drive and stopping a superhighway, or now the Point, large ad hoc groups tend to come to the fore, and they generally do a better job than standing organizations. (They need the organizations none the less.) The Lake Shore Drive reconstruction project (1998-2004) is an example of a major change that was largely handled by a broad coalition of stakeholders and activists (by no means all local) that met regularly with planners and insisted the project make the park better. They effected many modifications. (This approach to engaging the "proposer" did leave some people feeling left out or that the broader community was not consulted enough.)
The Point revetment issue was largely handled this way for over a decade until large sections of both stakeholders and the community felt double-crossed by "downtown" suddenly deciding that the Memorandum of Agreement signed by all parties in 1993 to preserve the step stones under the National Historic Act could be turned on its twisted to allow an all concrete and steel seawall with concrete "steps." Note: direct action (more than just a big outpouring of opinion) seems not to be as appealing to the broad community or as successful in recent times--exception: saving International House.) Plans for the revetment 47th to 51st, involving soft edge and major park and natural area expansion by Morgan Shoals, were handled with a combination of stakeholder and public input meetings. Although a series of compromises was proposed by the city and the Community Task Force and the experts and mediator engaged by both sides, deadlock resumed. Only in late 2005 did matters go in a direction toward resolution, after a largely attended and raucous or determined meeting (depending on viewpoint) shocked officials and Senator Obama (convinced the Task Force best expressed and represented community opinion) took action to start a new process with new federal experts and the task force, and with purpose to design for preservation based on plainest meaning of the Memorandum. The outcome is not certain but is promising.
There is wide perception that scale is being lost as more and more the lakefront is being devoted to serving the automobile or to structures that protect from (rather than "meeting") the lake at the expense of access, views, and "naturalness." On the other hand, the LSD project did bring new underpass access and landscaping and the Morgan Shoals lakeshore expansion project, set back a while for more funding, holds great promise.
How the Point is preserved will play a part in the neighborhood's feeling about itself, about whether it sees it can (and in fact can) preserve its assets and has a voice/local option in controlling change. The movement to save the Point has brought the strongest community outpouring of emotion and organizational effort in years. The coming together of several standing and ad hoc organizations can be said to auger well for the community, although inevitably some break off in favor of other options or supporting established powers. The lakefront has the resonance to lead periodically to such community outpouring, which can be constructive and lead to ongoing cooperative action on many fronts. Harper Court seems to be showing that other icons have the same galvanizing resonance.
Also important to our neighborhood is the hydrologic health and balance of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, including turning around beach closures and maintaining the quality and quantity (lake level) of the lake. Anyone remember the alewives stench of a few decades ago? We gained when CDOT was pressured into sending the first storm flush from the new Lake Shore Drive into the sanitary sewer system, but every drop we send down the rivers goes to the Gulf and is not returned to the water-starved lake. Major decisions are being made by the Great Lakes governors that will affect lake levels and quality. Learn more about city initiatives and a proposed $4 Great Lakes Trust. Disturbing and not yet understood is the change in standard under which swimming bans will go into effect.
There is no question that Hyde Park over the past 125 years would be very different without the Hyde Park Herald. Not only has it helped foster a local spirit and identity, the Herald was critical at key transitions in the neighborhood--both helping direct changes and providing the key information about plans and hearings necessary to community acceptance or activist resistance. Despite some credibility and bias problems, the Herald is indispensable to this website's coverage, depth, and timeliness. The Herald's support for small, underdog, community, and independent causes, and town (as distinct from "gown","downtown" or outside developer) perspective, especially over the past 50 and more years, has itself built and maintained community expectation and self-identity. A wide-circulation press is essential to business, too. Still, the Herald could use competition.
Free campus newspapers have been an important watchdog and check on the University (and Herald), as well as servants of the University community's needs and diverse perspective. Recently rejoining the Chicago Maroon are the Chicago Weekly News (with the citywide New City enclosed), but The Free Press is no longer Hyde Park based. Various small publications that come and go are now more-than-supplemented by online publications and resources. A different local publication is the Baffler, a journal of social criticism and satire. With even more circulation than the Herald is the free Evergreen, sent to the tens of thousands of Cooperative Society members,mainly in 60615 and 60637 now, available to others also--and it's diverse-interest features are of high quality.
Also important are citywide and South Side local drop off and handout papers such as the Reader, N'Digo, and several others, and box papers for sale including definitely in Spanish. Our citywide dailies also frequently cover local issues (example the Point), review the many books by Hyde Parkers, and provide context: Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily Defender, Red Eye, Southtown. Of course, many locals prefer to get their news from the New York Times (or USA Today, or television including public access tv commentary casts which sometimes focus on local issues--Alderman Preckwinkle has a show, and the large selection of out of city and foreign newspapers and periodicals in UC and Blackstone libraries and in coffeehouses. A rising curve? The Internet and blognet, especially UC based.
See Neighborhood Resource Links. Also, E-group message and discussion forums; find one in the above.
And far from least, we have a vibrant local airwave outlet, too, WHPK.
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Parking, walking-biking corridors ( also Zoning)
Parking is a mixed bag with different needs and problems in different sectors, but generally a real drawback. Part of the problem is that many families have several cars but no off-street facilities to park them--Hyde Park was built up before there were so many autos, and the last big surge of buildup in the 20's was vertical and with greater footprint coverage, with no increase in street parking space. On the other hand, the parking crunch can be its own balancer, encourage ing people to continue to walk and bike (although these latter two often conflict). Many value Hyde Park as a community easily walked across for errands, work, and pleasure. New CTA routes, UC-CTA bus service and I-GO Car Share are among increased options. There are now bike trails, connecting to citywide trails on the lakefront and boulevards. South Lakefront Access plans and projects are advancing or completed, and the city is going full tilt on switching to biking and other alternatives to the single-occupancy auto.
For parking, the U of C has put up garages and lots open to the public evenings and weekends, and plans two new ones across the Midway--UC Hospitals will likely have to increase parking north of the Midway also, and possibly a garage under Stagg Field. The University, like its neighbors worries that this just increases too many making too short trips. (A high proportion of Hyde Parkers(!) drive to campus.) Many consider U of C visitors, students and staff--and University expansion projects-- as major contributors to parking woes over large parts of the neighborhood. (U of C has barred freshmen from bringing cars, but so many staff and visitors come to campus and park on nearby and not so nearby residential streets--partly a result of, experts say, too much pseudo-free street parking that we pay for in everything else.) The University has now said it will start pricing all parking uniformly and above the cost of transit options, and devote more of its resources into transit, vanpools and other alternatives to the autos and parking.
Metra park and riders is another problem. Occasionally permit parking demands come up, especially near the railroad and the University. Most, including aldermen, see resident permit parking as likely only to make matters worse. The problems seem worst in a big swath east and north for several blocks around the University, but are intense all along 57th, 55th, 53rd, Dorchester and Blackstone, near schools, and in East Hyde Park, perhaps penultimately in the Triangle from 51st to 47th. In the commercial areas and behind them delivery trucks increase the problem. A new parking garage at 53rd and Lake Park would help businesses within a short radius, but experts say that changes in on-street parking spaces and configuration and in land coverage rules would be at least as helpful. Assumptions on which the need for a garage were based have changed as well as prospects for the city or TIF building and funding a garage. Those seeking solutions are now looking at finding out how much is a management problem rather than a real parking lot; finding out how much parking will be needed by new development and with loss of the City lot if redeveloped with Harper Court; exploring a Parking Improvement District; and providing short-term improvements, education and alternatives (lotshare/valet, carshare, public transit, walk and bikeability).
Current direction for the business district (53rd) for now is to manage the problem until new development arises that cannot handle its parking problem internally--using a parking improvement district, making arrangements with private lots, an education campaign and resources... And do a modern study when needed. The University is also revising its approach.
Parks are a strong structural component in HPK, both as a set of physical assets defining three sides of and spread through the neighborhood and as a center for many activities bringing residents, groups, and organizations of dozens of types--social assets--together. While parks can lead to clashes or attract undesired loitering or actions, they are generally a source of cohesion and, as draws and significant parts of the "public way", where diverse people come together or consciously meet for activities, team and individual sports, or relaxation. Birding and other enjoyment of the natural areas is extremely popular. How does one place value on such wonderful assets?
Humans being as they are, they seldom come together to care for their parks until there is some kind of crisis in or general sense of malaise with a park, or at least a fundraising need. It's hard to keep the momentum going once the park is "fixed."
It is of much significance that new councils do keep being formed in HP in the past three months- Spruce and Harold Washington a few years back, Bessie Coleman and reconstituted Kenwood recently .We expect much of each.
Hyde Park is surrounded on three sides by a greensward of large, historic Olmsted and Caldwell parks and also has many mid-sized and small parks. Subtracting the big parks, the parkland space ratio and park to population ratio are not relatively high, and no land remains for more parks between 47th-60th and Cottage to the lake. Expansion outward of the pinched part of the lakefront is in progress or planned, particularly at Morgan Shoals/49-50th and in North Kenwood/ Oakland.
The parks are generally healthy except that maintenance is difficult on a lean budget, the Park District is often poor at informing and involving the community in changes, and there is a problem with unwanted activity and congregation in all sizes of parks, although poorly designed and hemmed in vest pocket parks more consistently have problems. Much discussion is given to whether the problem is (or is more) amenable to thoughtful design or rather to policing and eyes/people in the park. So far, we have not lost parkland as a way of solving the people problem or to developer or institutional encroachment.* Hyde Parkers value and zealously guard their parks and open space. (*Some believe the University has sequestered parts of the Midway and Washington Park--this is controversial; see next.) Disturbing recently is the large increase of traffic in Jackson due to Dan Ryan reconstruction.
The University has been instrumental in redevelopment of parkland, especially the Midway and into Washington Park with new facilities and gardens, and improving neglected non park district open space, such as the 55th St. berm (formerly an example of a now-regretted approach to creating open space in lieu of housing density and perceived deleterious nightlife). The University has sought and received botanic garden designation. It often works along with the aldermen behind the scenes on park issues of importance to the community. The University and state grants will help landscape the Metra viaducts and walls, in conjunction with local . The University distributes annual beautification grants, many to schools.
Strong councils keep the park district on its toes and take advantage of new opportunities. They also sometimes serve as mega block clubs, fielding a wide range of issues, but sometimes also become narrowly focused and so get into disputes with other interests including schools.
Parks that in recent years underwent substantial planning, rehabilitation, and development to meet changing user needs or accommodate various urban pressures include Jackson, Washington, Nichols (these three subject to institutional invasion), and Kenwood. Public sculpture has also been restored.
In Nichols, compromises (sometimes like drawing eye teeth) were reached for redevelopment of the north end in conjunction with a new shared-use park-school gym which will provide at least some recreational facilities to complement a revitalized Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. The Nichols council has reached out to other organizations and the leadership of the community to resolve issues, although it has also stood up often and shouted "No!" It also brings out large groups of volunteers to tend the park and the gardens and Meadow it largely built. Kenwood Park is an example of a successful partnership between a council, residents, the park district, donors, and institutions to achieve new facilities. Bessie Coleman, Harold Washington, and Spruce are following in their wake. Increasingly, communities are asked to foot part of the bill--and indeed the three parks in the 53rd TIF (Elm, Nichols, Spruce) are considered worthy sources of future increment expenditures, although a fair ways down in priority. (All the parks mentioned here have had people problems, used in part as a catalyst for improvement projects.)
Because of difficulties balancing needs (and promises) at some park-school facilities and a dearth of swimming and class A fieldhouse facilities including failed opportunities in HPK, groups continue to press for a new fieldhouse north of Kenwood. The PD has, however, taken good advantage of the chance to rehab the YW in north Woodlawn and combine its new programs with new programs and facilities at Midway and Washington Parks. Availability of Dyett pool continues to vex.The west end of HPK is working out problems caused by big festivals hosted in Washington Park.
Pressures against keeping, keeping up, and steadily improving and updating our parks are bound to grow as the South Side grows. Vigilance, creativity, and cooperative ventures are likely countermeasures. HPK could also help adjacent neighborhoods expand and develop parkland while space at reasonable prices still exists--there is already a new land swap program between the city and park district, and orgs. such as Friends of the Parks have programs to help grow community parkland.
Gardening, including garden groups for public spaces and the Hyde Park Garden Fair, have been a powerful asset to the community for decades.
Good progress has been made in reducing crime year by year to levels not seen in decades despite short term upticks, especially in burglaries. The Hyde Park Herald reports that statistics for 2003 ranked Hyde Park as one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago, with decreases in both violent and property crimes, and this has continued over the next near-decade. Over the preceding 5 years violent crimes are down 11 percent and overall crime 20 percent. Burglaries and robberies did rise 53 and 14-percent each between 36th and 61st St. east of Cottage Grove. A major effort has been put into intercepting gang violence over turf and drug control following CHA demolition. Gang recruitment problems continue.
Partnerships between police and the University have helped--UC police, measures with students, and South East Chicago Commission efforts. CAPS (four beats) is active, along with several block clubs. There was increased successful effort to control problems with west Hyde Park and around the University Efforts are strong to keep the pressure up on gang and drug infiltrated buildings. Many problems remain with burglaries, broad daylight robbery/batteries, drugs, and car thefts. A steady increase in visible homeless and panhandling has also increased feelings of insecurity and of unpleasant experience. There is a perception that there are fewer eyes on the street than in past times. Also, whether improvements occur in surrounding neighborhoods and how the dispersal of CHA residence and building of mixed income neighborhoods is handled, many think, will have a strong influence on the long-term trend in public safety. Recently, the meaning of public safety has been expanded to include post 9/11 concerns, especially at the University and Hospitals. Some academics are challenging the "broken windows" "standard model" of policing, and there are continuing complaints of profiling.
Religious institutions and faith-based action are major, often key, presences and dynamos--are often the bodies and ethical bases for activism--in a neighborhood where, ironically, so many pride themselves on not being in the 75% of Americans who view religion as "very important" in their lives. The growing consortium of seminaries, missionaries, and religion-based schools will play a big role in shaping the community, especially in enhancing diversity and a mixed income community, and in the efforts to promote affordability and sustainability. Mainstream and other religious bodies participate in the Interfaith Council Food pantry, campus ministry, Night Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, and much more.
Schools and Education
"Creating the Future through Education" (banner on the Metra viaduct at 51st St.) summarizes much of what this community has been about since at least the 1870's and 80's, when William H. Ray was a Midwestern Horace Mann, even before Harper built a great university here. Schools have been both great assets and a holdback to the community and its ability to draw and hold families, particularly those with means to choose a neighborhood based on its schools--a key to keeping a mixed income community. Strengthening schools is widely considered essential to a strong HPK. Issues related to improved quality include: what methods (such as whole math, balanced literacy, AVID) and curriculum are best, teaming in common program planning, unit sizes, discipline/security, closed vs open campuses, uniforms... An issue that may become increasingly important is what model of "civic curriculum" is best (or with the least problematic consequences--neutral, common or life values, multiculturalist, or "-centric" to the "community" that forms the largest part of the school's attendance. Increasingly important is ability to hold students as they age toward crucial junctures where parents jockey for advantageous placements.
The U of C has several programs including the Consortium for School Improvement Research and Center for Urban Schools which partner with and help both area and larger south side schools, teachers and students, including on curricular development. The University has also intensively studied and advised on school improvement, supplies tutors, and founded its own charter schools. (Some accuse the University of poaching the best teachers and students.)
Most local school councils (LSCs) are dynamos, not just for their school but for neighborhood and sub-neighborhood quality. And we do have a suite of outstanding public and private schools in the area--and they draw from far and near, although the tendency of many local parents of means to choose private schools vexes many residents.
See the Area 15 2002 schools report card in our Tests and Rankings page. See also in 2010 the various citywide and mid south reorganization plans that have draw greatly differing reactions.
General school problems have included:
1) A major disparity between a set of schools seen as succeeding ("high performing") and another seen as failing, with little cooperation so far between the two sets despite encouragement to do so and increasing help from U of C and Area 15. Much of the administration is trying valiantly to bring up the neighborhood schools (where the vast majority of students are), not just the selective enrollment and magnet schools. More of our schools are on the failing list and must allow students to transfer out. Others continue to flourish or have gotten off "watch lists." And there are now three rather than two elementary non-charter public schools in the top range.
2) Failure of Chicago Public Schools to consistently give schools strong leaders and direction (with some notable exceptions), stick to policies, and provide the necessary resources and facilities , support, and, some say, failure to insist on quality rather than teaching to tests and following same-approaches. (But many curricular changes, many by experts, have been adopted.) Note that the average tenure of upper administrators, and the time a program is tried before another one is adopted, are extremely short. Note also that principals are now selected by LSCs; this sometimes has caused severe problems.
Also vexing is the time it takes to address facilities deficiencies (ranging from Murray to Canter to Shoesmith, to Kozminski, to Kenwood).
3) State, federal, and local allocation rules that often penalize succeeding communities or schools ( both those that serve local and those that serve distant students) and in any case lead to large disparities in resources and uninviting facilities that say "we don't value you." This is tied to the dumping of more and more tasks, expectations, and responsibilities on the schools, tasks that used to be handled by other agencies or institutions. This with less support than the tasks demand. Public schools are now also expected to serve all children regardless of abilities, which cannot come cheap; and school closures have dumped non-performing students--often disruptively--into better performing schools, hurting the latter's ability to recruit.
4) (In many cases) lack of parental involvement along with refusal of a large proportion of local parents to consider public schools, especially local public schools--combined with inevitable (and sometimes elitist?) competition from the UC Lab Schools. Some say this may be related to problems with the LSC model.
5) Continuing division or indecision between the neighborhood school and magnet school models. Many schools of both categories draw most of their pupils from outside their neighborhood.
6) Continuous or growing security and discipline problems.
7) Student population instability. Efforts are being made now to make sure all the schools are at the same place any given week so that students who transfer are not at sea or drop out.
8) Slowness to fix the poor transition into high school. Kids that are not ready for and do not succeed in the freshman year in our big schools tend to become dropouts. Intensive summer school programs will likely only be part of the solution.
What do schools need to excel or become better? Those with experience and expertise say: 1) the right strong and visionary but open leadership, 2) parental involvement and lobbying (whole sets of parents, not just a few individuals), 3) supporting partners--institutional and community, 4) time for new ideas to be proved and improved, 5) sufficient resources for both programming and facilities, 6) focus on the core educational mission (including knowing how to use technology as a tool rather than just trying to use technology as a fix).
What should parents look for when choosing a school in their neighborhood? A strong principal, parental involvement and school involvement in its community- external partners for starts. When looking at scores, go beyond gross numbers--and don't forget the attendance levels. Look for evidence the teachers are working together horizontally and vertically and taking students under their wings with such practices as common lesson planning and small learning groups or schools within schools--and whether these are working. Look for schools that have figured out how to use computers and other teaching tools.
A different kind of problem is the struggle of private schools, such as defunct Harvard and nearly-lost treasure Hales Franciscan, to even keep open.
Specific schools see below.
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Kenwood Academy (the main Secondary school) Kenwood has the best scores of area high schools and shows good yearly progress. With election of Elizabeth Kirby as permanent principal, Kenwood has decided to remain on a chosen track to become a certain kind of school, delineated in Future of Kenwood. Kenwood seemed likely to become a magnet rather than neighborhood school (but movement in that direction has halted) and to downsize more. Security remains a major concern. Some programs are seen as very successful and making for one of the best high schools in the city, other parts of the program and school population is seen as eroding and lacking in focus. Kenwood needs some physical enhancements including a lunchroom. Gang recruitment remains a problem. Canter Middle School This new or remade school north of Kenwood Academy (and intended to feed into Kenwood) now draws from the stronger elementary schools of the area. It got off to a rocky start and does not get the Murray graduates but is regrouping, and is slated for new infusion of funds to improve its facilities and programs--almost $2 million. Since it is not a Title I school, it is exempt from requirement to take students from failing schools. It may receive TIF help in facilities planning. Bret Harte, Murray, Ray, and Shoesmith (elem. part of Hyde Park Cluster) The other members of the cluster feeding into Canter have strong program concentrations. Murray (the magnet school) performs highly most and across their student populations and has the highest applications, local and distant. Ray and Bret Harte are only a little behind. Harte was recently rewarded for major improvement. They have had strong, widely acclaimed principals. Murray's student body is 40 percent local. Shoesmith is an example of a school that is between the excelling and the failing, but advancing. Both Harte and Shoesmith have new principals, Ray has a longtime successful principal. Kozminski, Reavis
These are two troubled schools that seem to go their own way. Reavis has been placed on probation and unless its new programs can turn things around it may be swept away, especially with all the changes coming with Renaissance 2010. Kozminski has been improving and may get off the watch lists. Both have some strong resident and parent supporters and helpers. Most of the students are not local. Reavis has a relatively new principal, Kozminski a popular long termer.
U of C Lab Schools An anchor and inspiration. Increasingly draws from all over the region. There is still a financial advantage to U C staff and faculty for sending students to Lab School rather than public schools, although this has been reduced. Social Services
There are many actively engaged organizations. One-stop government services are being set up, but there are gaps. We seem not to be dealing with the homeless issue in a coordinated, agreed upon manner. There are programs, ranging from the Interfaith Cluster's transitional housing and homesharing to the Child Welfare agency's and Retarded Citizens programs. School of Social Service Administration helps. Providing different suites of services, from literacy and job training to recreation, are The Blue Gargoyle and Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. There are not enough recreational and tutoring/counseling services for teens in the area.
See commercial districts. As funds gradually accrue to the district in coming years, the choices of the alderman and the advisory council will give decisive direction to the core commercial street as well as nearby sections and important schools (Kenwood, Canter) and parks also in the district. The Advisory Council can encourage standards, and did help pay for significant parking and major school improvements, but since it went back on its original intent to not subsidize developers, money has been close to entirely committed to Harper Court, with some more likely to go to City Hyde Park. Hence its ability to support services such as street cleanup and snow removal have virtually vanished. An SSA is likely to be proposed in 2012 or 13 to supplement the needed revenues. Some think that with the departure of its dynamic leader and change in alderman, the TIF has lost some oomph, but time will tell.
Watch for: An SSA. Whether the council will again become dynamic despite most of its potential decisions having been made.
Transit is a strong component, but is seen as lacking the final oomph that makes it a real driver and draw. People were in the late 1990s and early 2000sirked by shifting bus routes and incomplete station rehabilitation--including being in the cross hairs every time there is a cutback (i.e. loss of the X55). People are glad to live within a few minutes of the Loop and have a great many and increasing choices. Metra is increasingly seen as not living up to its potential for us as the dedicated-right-of-way express provider ("urban railroad"). The neighborhood has new bus routes that circulate through the neighborhood, but often still not at the times or exactly where residents want to go, only in part because they are designed to serve the UC community (also exclusively served by a private service in the evening that fails to settle on ways to provide service out of the neighborhood or late at night). Students don't think they are getting reliable late night service either by CTA route 55
Metra Electric South Chicago Branch has the potential to serve more, and more timely, as it used to as special kind of rapid transit, an urban railroad. But its service is too far between in non-peak hours and Sundays! as even the RTA says, and inter transfer to CTA and Pace including by universal transfer are still in the future. Proposals are circulating more than ever and with growing support to provide more frequent service and fare integration or transfer, at least for this line- whether called Gold Line or Gray Line. The official Regional Transportation Plan endorses these goals as part of its proposal for Metra Service Upgrade (given a relatively high priority). The service providers continue to throw every obstacle possible in the way, and fail to cooperate well in other respects. At least we have some new stations and should get more embankment and viaduct improvement. A Southeast Corridor Transit Study was pushed through by elected officials with advocacy support (including SOUL and allies) but has not issued a final report and wants to support less costly improvements along streets, such as bus rapid transit.
53rd/Lake Park is becoming more of a transit hub, including for the new developments, and with a bike center, but ideas do not seem to be advancing for53rd Street's better connection to 55th street and the University. 55th will get a road diet and new bike lanes. The University is growing its bike share program. Blackstone Bicycle Works provides youth training as well as a needed service. Advocacy groups like Active Transit and Chicago Area Runners Assn. are examining improvements to the increasingly used Lakefront Trail.
Many are thinking of ways to make our streets less congested and more friendly to users including pedestrians. 55th St. and Lake Park especially is under study, including community sidewalk surveys.
I-GO and Zipcar car leasing has increasing use and many drop-off spaces.
University of Chicago
See for more detail Town and Gown in the goals and issues section, page 2. See also the University and Community home page and subpages on master plans and Planned Development 43 / Woodlawn Corridor, Releases, Opposition, Educational research...
Regardless of the retrospective pros and cons of Urban Renewal and the University's motivations, the UC and IIT stayed and acted. If they had not, there would not be anything like a stable, desirable, diverse Hyde Park to discuss. UC is the major institution, employer, supplier and consumer of housing, and property owner/business property manager in the neighborhood. The health, perhaps survival both the community and the university depend on the health and wise interaction of the other. The viability of 53rd Street certainly depends on decisions of the University (which says it has no desire to be "a landlord" there). In matters big and small, the University facilitates many of the decisions, or brings together the parties, either directly (especially through the Office of Civic Engagement and agreements with the city) or indirectly through the South East Chicago Commission et al.
The Commission monitors and to a considerable degree shapes responses on public safety (although most of the safety has been brought into the UC Police and the department it serves under), housing, code enforcement, and development (especially business). The University has supported many programs and organizations and provides many resources in the area. (See their outreach/services url in Community Resources). It is very concerned about improving education and bringing better healthcare and policing to the community and to the larger South Side-and the role of its Legal Clinics and School of Social Service Administration are legendary. It says it is concerned with being surrounded by an economically diverse neighborhood with a diverse housing stock that students, faculty and staff can afford, but priority has always been, and recently seems more, to be on a neighborhood tha wil attract faculty, staff, students, and parents-- which ten to be more affluent-- hence "upscaling" although the University does not use that word. Much of the rich cultural and intellectual life and activity of the neighborhood is at or originates from the University, which (in part to attract students and faculty) seeks to partially re grow the neighborhood's once much more bright nightlife, commerce, art, etc.- and that requires increased density. Tentatively from the start of the new century, and increasing from about 2007, the University has taken the lead in commercial growth and revitalization, although not in new housing in Hyde Park (except for dormitories, which have grown rapidly and continue to grow).
Many do feel that the University still treats the neighborhood (even its parks) as a company town, disproportionately appropriates resources such as parking, office, and housing space for its needs (having decided it needs to grow- including its alumni base), and increasingly controls key real estate. Its willingness to buy land and building (starting in the middle of the last century) is said by many to increase prices and rents, including to businesses), but at least in the past has not been a particularly effective manager of property or selector of businesses/retail. The University's expansion plans and new buildings are seen by many as doing damage to values nearby, quality of life and aesthetics, and represent poor choices. Some (former Alderman and now Co. Bd. President Preckwinkle) have said the University has not moved far enough away from being elitist, racist, and having a low glass ceiling. President Randel was committed to the University's being an even stronger asset to the communities around it. President Zimmer has brought different approaches to similar community goals. After an initial tough line to make decisions mostly on its own-- and sometimes lose, the University seems to be returning to listening and collaboration. The Community Service Center is one of several avenues of activity. return to component index
University of Chicago Hospitals (University of Chicago Medicine)
This major research, teaching, and health-providing institution is increasingly bringing services to residents and schools in a large area of the south side-but to some seems to have cut back in options and quality in its immediate area. The objective is to concentrate on high-intensity cases, research and biomedical engineering, and teaching-- but the initiatives of the Urban Health Institute et al have sought to expand options and information for south siders as alternatives to its own direct or emergency care. Many are disappointed that thus far the system has not found a way to contribute in the dilemmas of trauma and fast-urgent care. Its enormous expansion west and northwestward of the traditional campus in recent years reduced housing stock while increasing employment.
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What people are saying...
Snapshots that tell of enduring values upheld by recurring trends:
A proclamation issued by dozens of Hyde Parkers in May, 2003, We Stand for Peace, set forth four principles many Hyde Parkers seek to apply both locally and globally: 1) nonviolent resolution of disputes, 2) jobs, housing, education, and health care, 3) civil liberties, transparency in government, and due process of law at home and abroad, 4) cooperation and international law and US participation in international organizations, agreements and courts.
The Promontory Point Task Force said in an open letter in May 2003, "...Over the past two years, and especially during the last few months, many community groups and individuals have participated in developing the plan of the Point. We have been amazed--at times even overwhelmed--by the number of Hyde Parkers who are deeply concerned with an actively involved in this project. This experience confirms our commitment to an open process for making decisions.....Working together as a strong and engaged community, we can save this important public resource; we can save Promontory Point." The two sides and stakeholders are now engaged in a process to see if a resolution can be reached.
Feelings still remain bitter between supporters of/interveners for chess at Harper Court and the Harper Court board and some business owners of the Court. Don't think this does not play a role in the present (2006) bitterness over actions and non communication of the presents board(s).
A letter to the Herald from HPKCC member Maryal Stone Dale in 2003 accuses the Herald of rewriting history in rooting University isolationism in Urban Renewal and its divisions. The member credits the University (and IIT) with staying and working with the community "to make Urban Renewal work." She recalled that only a local bank would give a mortgage here in the old days, until the neighborhood"became stable and desirable again." She worries that UC and IIT may be taking on too much burden at a distance and asserts that only an all-out commitment from the Mayor will bring widespread transformation.
The Herald has taken the University and community organizations to task for not dealing timely with planning for the large and growing amount of retail space in University hands, especially at 53rd and Harper.
Many residents of west Hyde Park have expressed embitterment over perceived neglect and lack of help for their schools, public safety and other interests.
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