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Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

During the 1850s Hyde Park was situated within the Township of Lake, which stretched south from 39th Street and included several working-class towns. However, in 1861 the small middle-class settlements along the IC tracks petitioned and received separate township status from the Illinois General Assembly. This new district, known as the Township of Hyde Park, stretched from 39th to 130th Street and from State Street to the lake. When it was first created, the township had only 350 residents who hailed the move as an advance in participatory democracy. Hyde Parkers would no longer have their destiny controlled by the working-class politicians of the Town of Lake. Four years later, in 1865, the Union Stock Yard opened on 43rd Street west of Halsted and further changed the future of the two towns. Hyde Park continued as a middle-class enclave, while the Town of Lake thrived as an industrial center.

This division fit in perfectly with Cornell's plans. The founder of Hyde Park wanted no industry in his settlement. His was to be a strictly residential suburb with just enough commerce to provide for its residents' daily needs. There were to be institutions, but no smelly packinghouses or smoky steel mills. These would be located far to the south in the Calumet Region, not in the heart of Hyde Park.

Institutional growth began in 1858 when residents organized a Presbyterian congregation. Their first house of worship was a small chapel at what is now 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue. In 1860 they built a larger church on the same site. This was followed eight years later by a new and larger edifice constructed at 53rd Street and Blackstone avenue, and the town remodeled the old church into a combination town hall and jail. The Episcopalians shared the same church with the Presbyterians. Schools were also constructed (See Fig. 1). A small grammar school opened on 46th Street, and the first Hyde Park High School was established at 50th and Lake Park Avenue in 1870.

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Figure 1: Harvard School for Boys, 47th and Drexel, c. 1907.

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