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Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

Hyde Park-Kenwood
Hyde Park-Kenwood is generally recognized as an island surrounded by the rest of the South Side. Lying south of 47th Street along the lakefront to 60thStreet, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community in many ways has always been different from nearby areas; although the distinct flavor of the present-day neighborhood became more pronounced in the 1950s because of massive urban renewal. Before that twenty-year process began, the district's boundaries were more flexible to the north and south. With the changes of the postwar period, however, Hyde Park's future became different from that of its surrounding South Side neighbors. In many ways those changes returned the neighborhood to the pattern that its founder, Paul Cornell, had intended for it from the beginning.

Dr. John A. Kennicott, a Chicago dentist, moved to the south suburbs in 1856 and founded Kenwood. Kennicott's estate stood near the Illinois Central Railroad tracks at 43rd Street. The name Kenwood is the same as that of his mother's ancestral home in Scotland. Several other wealthy families moved to Kenwood, and in 1859 the Illinois Central agreed to make a stop at 47th Street to serve the new and growing community. By 1875 Kenwood was the gem of the South Lakefront (See Fig. 1). Stately homes and mansions were constructed along its tree-lined streets. Institutional development soon followed. St. Paul's Episcopal Church and a Congregational church came to the neighborhood. Some time later the First Baptist Church moved to 50th Street in the community. In the 1890s many of Chicago's leading families who derived their fortunes from meatpacking, steel, and stocks, built mansions in Kenwood. In the twentieth century such names as Swift, Rosenwald, and Morris were listed in the social register as Kenwood residents. With the opening of the Kenwood branch of the "L" in 1910-the terminus of which was at 42nd and Lake Park Avenue-middle income families were attracted to the neighborhood, and they took up residence in newly constructed apartment buildings. Meanwhile, the servants in the mansions of Kenwood and middle-class Catholics who lived north of 47th Street founded St. Ambrose parish in 1904. Later on well-to-do Irish families joined the wealthy Protestants in Kenwood and contributed to the growth of St. Ambrose at 47th and Ellis Avenue.

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Figure 1: George R.T. Ward Residence, c. 1880.  

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