At this point, however, Cornell's dream of an institutional anchor
for Hyde Park was revived, and this changed the destiny of the
community. The Baptist Church, with support from John D. Rockefeller,
decided to create a new University of Chicago on land donated
by Marshall Field. The school was to be located just north of
the Midway Plaisance. And so the most important event in the history
of Hyde Park came to pass. Cornell's settlement finally had a
firm institutional, economic, and cultural base. From that time
on, the destiny of the neighborhood was intertwined with that
of the university.
The history of the University of Chicago is well known to those
who live in the area (See Figs. 1 and 2). Its impact
on Hyde Park's housing market was immediate. The university
encouraged faculty, students, and staff to live close to the
campus, and by 1900 this new population dominated the area south
Street. Students competed with residents and with ethnic groups
who were pushing south along the avenues seeking housing in the
area. Hyde Park took on the atmosphere of a major university
The new residents changed Hyde Park from a conservative bastion
to one that was still economically conservative, but socially
liberal and politically independent. This change was significant
because it would shape Hyde Park's response to urban problems
fifty years later.
The aftermath of World War I brought sweeping changes to Chicago's
South Side. Not the least of these was the dramatic growth of
the city's black population. The Black Belt expanded south and
east from the original settlement around 22nd and State Streets.
That part of the city sometimes called "greater" Hyde
Park lay in the path of this population movement. This area included
Oakland, Kenwood, parts of Washington Park, as well as Hyde Park
itself. Because the housing was of a better quality in these neighborhoods,
they attracted middle-class black people. This resulted in racial
violence and the use of restrictive covenants by whites in an
attempt to fend off racial change.
Ryerson Physical Laboratory, c. 1913. »
Hull Gate, University of Chicago, c. 1913.