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Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

But was there a vision that would remold the neighborhood? Many were bitter. Merchants and other small businessmen were uprooted. The old art colony on 57th Street was pulled down during the fifteen-year operation. The artists could hardly afford the "new colony" in Harper Court, so they moved, taking with them much of the soul of the neighborhood. And some who moved once were forced to move again and again. Ted and Bea Ciral's House of Tiki was moved from Hyde Park Boulevard near Harper Avenue so that Kenwood Academy could be built. Their other businesses had already been forced off Lake Park Avenue by the wreckers ball. The old Compass Bar, the birthplace of the Second City Players, was replaced by a fire station at 55th Street and University Avenue. One after another of Hyde Park's business and entertainment landmarks disappeared.

Elaine May and Mike Nichols once described Hyde Park as "black and white united against the poor." Was this, then, the ultimate plan for the new Hyde Park? The Hyde Park-Kenwood Conference opted for keeping the area a socially as well as racially integrated community. Many had been attracted to the neighborhood precisely because of its cosmopolitan character. The art colony, the university, the wealthy, and the poor seemed to mingle. Memories may have turned the previous times into romantic visions, but some of them were based in reality. The Hyde Park of 1919 died sometime during the Great Depression, and another more pluralistic Hyde Park had replaced it. The neighborhood was socially more liberal, but that too was changing. A third Hyde Park has been created since 1954, economically more secure, but less so culturally. The South East Chicago Commission's vision of the new Hyde Park was for it to be an elite enclave, thus bringing the district full circle. It was this vision which won out in 1954 and which prompted Elaine May's and Mike Nichol's remarks.

Hyde Park-Kenwood tried for a time to have it both ways. Indeed it looked for a while like it might have worked. By the mid-1960s the district regained its confidence. There was still some entertainment left. The Hyde Park Shopping Center designed by architect Harry Weese was stable. The Fifth Ward's liberal politicians were once again offending the regular Democratic organization, and murals were appearing under the IC tracks. Hyde Parkers were active in the anti-war movement and smug in their integrated, liberal enclave. Meanwhile, the city began falling apart.

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