Hyde Park is an area south of the downtown loop. It has the distinction of being Chicago's first suburb and the most racially diverse of the city. Here you will find the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, several other smaller museums, a pretty park and a promenade along Lake Michigan.
This is a great area for a daytrip and for visiting the Museum of Science, the University Campus or for just walking along the tree-lined neighborhood sidewalks, admiring the architecture. Because Hyde Park is so diverse, there are also a number of ethnic restaurants in the area.
Go to and see as many places...
Go to and see as many places as your budget will allow. A fascinating city, filled with nightlife and friendly Midwestern folks. Going to the top of the John Hancock Building's observation deck by high speed elevator and looking at the Shadow Network staff working their radio broadcast while the city and surrounding states moved at their own pace in my view.
Inner city urban life
No, actually it's not about my favorite thing about Chicago. It's about the reality of lives in inner city urban poor neighborhoods. As I posted on the previous general tip section, the book entitled "off the books" describes how the underground economy operates in Chicago poor neighborhoods. The author of this book spent time with families in the Robert Taylor Homes for many years to understand what’s going in the neighborhoods (It’s Douglas and Grand Boulevard).
To describe how the underground economy works in poor neighborhoods, he interviewed many residents who played a variety of roles in it. He interviewed moms holding varying jobs, gang members, street hustlers, prostitutes, church leaders, and entrepreneurs. What he found is that the concept of jobs, making money, relationships, and roles that people play are much more fluid. A woman with children may be marginally employed and when she is out of work, she may exchange sex for money or groceries. But this is not viewed as prostitution, it is a simple act of exchanging goods and services among people, basically a barter system among the poor.
Big cat, a gang leader, was not only a gang leader, he was also the one who was holding up the underground economy structure. So, when he was killed in gang crossfire, people in the neighborhood were afraid of the uncertainty in the off-the-book economy. The leaders of the shady economy were often recognized as spokespersons who brokered between black communities and the wider city. He talks particularly about the relationship between neighborhood business owners and political operators, and the sex trade. This role compression affects another aspect of neighborhood life: the use of public space. While public spaces may be locales for the underground economy that benefit residents, some residents may want public spaces to be safer places for children. How do people resolve then this conflict within? This question also needs to be framed in a broader social context.
A bit of dance
If you're into dance, the PURE group may interest you. Public Urban Ritual Experience is a group of dancers I saw in front of Field Museum one day. They were out in their beautiful costumes (on a hot day too) doing some dances, all over the Museum campus. They invite the public to participate too (and, yeah, I did).
I didn't get much information on them, but you're into dance you may want to look for them while in Chicago.
The South Side: Kenwood
Located just north of Hyde Park, Kenwood was developed between the late 1850s as a residential suburb and was annexed by Chicago in 1889. The Kenwood Historic District is loaded with imposing mansions, many built in the latter half of the 19th century.
Noteable homes and residents have included Muhammad Ali, who lived at 4944 Woodlawn. The Isidore Heller House at 5132 Woodlawn was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1897. At 4855 Woodlawn is the Elijah Muhammad house, once home to the controversial, adulterer who founded the Nation of Islam.