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Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

In 1852 a young lawyer named Paul Cornell paid for a topographical survey of the lakefront area along the South Side. Stephen Douglas, then associated with the Illinois Central Railroad, advised him to invest in land between Chicago and the Calumet region. Cornell had arrived in town five years earlier and had worked for several law firms. He met Douglas while associated with the firm of Skinner and Hoyne.

A year after the survey. Cornell purchased a 300-acre tract of lakefront land between 51st and 55th Streets. He also decided to deed sixty acres of land to the Illinois Central Railroad in return for a promise that the railroad would build a station in the settlement. Cornell named his proposed suburb Hyde Park. Years later he admitted that he was unsure whether London's Hyde Park or the settlement of the same name on the Hudson River influenced him. In either case, Cornell wanted to create an upper-middle-class sanctuary and summer resort. The name Hyde Park, long associated with elegant and gracious living, would help achieve that goal.

In 1856 the Illinois Central opened the first Hyde Park station at 53rd Street, linking the suburb to the city and causing the little town to grow along the IC tracks. Encouraged by this expansion, Cornell built a hotel, the Hyde Park House, on 53rd Street a short walk from the train station. He hoped the hotel, which opened in 1857, would be a summer resort for upper-class Chicagoans and provide potential real estate developers with a place to stay while they considered the purchase of land.

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