For me as a child, we would pull into the parking lot of the Museum of Science and Industry to visit my favorite Yesteryear, the chickens hatching, Telephone Town and the coal mine. That was what Hyde Park was all about but over the decades I was curious to explore more beyond those museum walls in Hyde Park, Chicago.
Seven miles south of the Chicago Loop located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, the Hyde Park neighborhood hosts the city’s most eclectic collection of antiquities, culture, historic landmarks including the college dwelling of U.S. President Barack Obama. Recognized as the established home for the University of Chicago and the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition, Hyde Park has been a focal point for prominent guests such as Mary Todd Lincoln, who lived during the summer of 1865.
Museum of Science and Industry
Known as the Palace of Fine Arts at the World Columbian Exposition, this building originally housed the Field Museum which moved to the south loop in the 1920s. Currently, The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum. Well known throughout the United States, the museum hosts the Apollo 8 spacecraft, the Pioneer Zephyr which was the first diesel fueled passenger train, a 3,500 square foot model train, a trip to a replica coal mine and a German submarine captured in World
Originally the midway point of the World Columbian Exposition providing knowledge of other world cultures, refreshments and the exciting new Ferris Wheel, today it is a one mile long park that has remained a green area supported by the University of Chicago. Boosting cross street bridges with a breaking taking view of the buildings along the Midway, the area has been refurbished with an ice skating rink for winter and expansive gardens during the summer. The word plaisance is French and defines a pleasure ground of nature.
An expanse of 542.89 acres, Jackson Park was designed after the close of the World’s Columbian Exposition featuring the first golf course in 1893. The Golden Lady sculpture and the French’s Statue of the Republic are remnants of the fair. The Osaka Garden, a 17th Century stroll garden was established in 1934 and beyond the entrance gate, a peaceful abundance of lush plants, exotic trees will exemplify peace for the weary traveler. If you enjoy bird watching, Jackson Park is home to over 200 species. In recent years, Jackson Park provides a gymnasium, fitness center, and basket ball/tennis courts.
Located in Chicago’s Burnham park, Promontory Point offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline and a great place to relax. The point was constructed as a man-made peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan and can be accessed by the Lakefront Trail, a tunnel which passes under Lake Shore Drive at the east end of 55th Street. Promontory Point also offers a variety of special events such as movies and guest performers. Designed by Alfred Caldwell, the point offers the beauty of harbor beaches and exquisite natural meadows.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House in Hyde Park is a prairie style example of his contemporary work also located on the campus of the University of Chicago. Tours are available that even include private spaces not readily available to the public. The Frederick C. Robie House is a national historic landmark and was designed in 1908 for the assistant manager of the Excelsior Supply Company. Robie and his wife Lora had selected the property in order to remain close to the University since his wife was a graduate.
Obama’s Home and Favorites
Coming to Chicago as a community organizer after graduating Harvard Law, Barack Obama lived in apartment 1n at 5429 Harper in Hyde Park if you are interested in sharing the legacy of the President of the United States. After viewing his apartment, you may want to see the Hyde Park Hair salon and the chair where he used to get haircuts. Located at 57th and Kimbark, for those who love the written word, stroll through the57th Street Books, another Obama favorite.
Looking for professional theater, the Court Theatre on the campus of the University of Chicago provides innovative productions and classic plays that have included Waiting for Godot, Agamemnon, Wait Until Dark, and The Glass Menagerie. Attended by over 35,000 each year, the award winning Court puts on five plays per season. It has been named the most consistently excellent theatre company in America by the Wall Street Journal.
After visiting the historical culture of Hyde Park, Valois cafeteria is one of the Obama family’s recommended eatery’s. After walking in the front, a sign indicates the President’s usual orders when in town. The restaurant provides comfort food with American specials such as feta omelets for breakfast and a huge variety of beef. In service for over a decade, Valois greets customers with walls of murals that celebrates the Hyde Park neighborhood. It has been said many times that if you live in Hyde Park, Valois is a family tradition.