The section of Hyde Park between 53rd and 55th Streets, and between Harper and Woodlawn Avenue, is the oldest part of our neighborhood. It is also the most modest, the most urban, the most “renewed” – and the least appreciated. The section of Hyde Park between 53rd and 55th Streets, and between Harper and Woodlawn Avenue, is the oldest part of our neighborhood. It is also the most modest, the most urban, the most “renewed” – and the least appreciated.


After the Chicago fire of 1871 Hyde Park Center grew quickly. Close to the Illinois Central commuter station at 53rd and Lake Park and to the 55th Street cable car line, it offered convenient and inexpensive transport for middle and lower class workers to the new jobs in the Loop to the north, the steel mills to the south and the Stock Yards to the west. Eager real estate developers built small cottages and narrow row houses on tiny lots. No valuable land was wasted on large yards or parkways to the front or on alleys at the rear. Many of these buildings were made of inexpensive wood , a practice prohibited north of 39th Street by the new Chicago fire regulations, but allowed in the independent Village of Hyde Park until it was annexed by Chicago in 1889. The style of the houses was simple and utilitarian in contrast to the Italian villas, French chateaux and English castles of the more wealthy surrounding parts of the neighborhood. Hyde Park Center offered modest houses in a dense urban setting to average working families.

Because both the houses and the residents were more modest, this section of the neighborhood was especially vulnerable to post-World War II land clearance projects. More than half of the structures in Hyde Park Center were demolished, including three churches and scores of convenient mixed-use retail/commercial/residential buildings. Most of what is now Nichols Park and the Murray School campus was once packed with small wooden and brick houses.

Much of the original Hyde Park Center remains and, although often over looked, it is a joy to explore. Notice the brickwork and stone carving, the carpentry, the arrangement of the windows, the roof gables and the porches, and notice how many different kinds of houses there are. But also listen to how these houses talk to one another, like neighbors. What can still be seen and heard on the streets of Hyde Park Center are the beautiful modest houses that nurtured the beginnings of city life for average people like ourselves.

The photography and Graphic Design for the “The Evolution of Hyde Park” was created by David Schalliol for a program offered by the Hyde Park Historical Society on March 1st of 2008. This included a presentation by Jack Spicer and the opening of a photo exhibit by David Schalliol. The photographs on this site of the Hyde Park houses were all taken by David Schalliol.

All materials collected for this project (maps, photos, documents, interviews. etc.) are housed at:
Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library
under the title: Hyde Park Center Project and are available for viewing and research.
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois

Hyde Park Center is a project of:
The Hyde Park Historical Society
5529 S Lake Park Avenue Chicago, IL 60637


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5410-5412SKimbark 5418SKimbark 5420SKimbark 5422SKimbark 5424-5426SKimbark
5410/5412 S. Kimbark 5418 S. Kimbark 5420 S. Kimbark 5422 S. Kimbark 5424/5426 S. Kimbark
5446SKimbark 5448SKimbark 5405SRidgewood 5411SRidgewood 5413SRidgewood
5446 S. Kimbark 5448 S. Kimbark 5405 S. Ridgewood 5411 S. Ridgewood 5413 S. Ridgewood
5417SRidgewood 5419SRidgewood 5421SRidgewood 5423SRidgewood 5427SRidgewood
5417 S. Ridgewood 5419 S. Ridgewood 5421 S. Ridgewood 5423 S. Ridgewood 5427 S. Ridgewood
5429SRidgewood 5437SRidgewood 5439SRidgewood 5440SRidgewood 5441SRidgewood
5429 S. Ridgewood 5437 S. Ridgewood 5439 S. Ridgewood 5440 S. Ridgewood 5441 S. Ridgewood
5442SRidgewood 5443SRidgewood 5445SRidgewood 5454SRidgewood 5455SRidgewood
5442 S. Ridgewood 5443 S. Ridgewood 5445 S. Ridgewood 5454S. Ridgewood 5455 S. Ridgewood
5456SRidgewood 5460SRidgewood 5461SRidgewood 5463SRidgewood 5465SRidgewood
5456 S. Ridgewood 5460 S. Ridgewood 5461 S. Ridgewood 5463 S. Ridgewood 5465 S. Ridgewood
5469SRidgewood 5475SRidgewood 5476SRidgewood 5477SRidgewood 5481SRidgewood
5469 S. Ridgewood 5475 S. Ridgewood 5476 S. Ridgewood 5477 S. Ridgewood 5481 S. Ridgewood
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5325 S. Dorchester 5406 S. Dorchester

5407 S. Dorchester

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5420/5422 S. Dorchester

5430/5432 S. Dorchester
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