About Hyde Park
Hyde Park, home to the University of Chicago, is a great community with a lot to see. It is one of the City of Chicago’s 77 “community areas.” They are not formal administrative districts, but everyone knows these neighborhoods by name, so if you say you’re going to Hyde Park, Chicagoans will know what you’re talking about. (This is useful if you explore Chicago and are unsure how to get back. Just ask a cab or bus driver how to get to Hyde Park.) If time allows, we encourage you to explore both the neighborhood and, if you’re up for it, the rest of the city. Here are some resources about lodging and what to do in Hyde Park and Chicago. Our volunteers who know Chicago well will also be available to help you get around, so if you have questions, please ask.
Most MEHAT Conference panels will take place in Stuart Hall (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.) on the University of Chicago campus. Special events, including keynote lecture and receptions, will take place in nearby buildings on campus.
How to Get to the University of Chicago
From O’Hare Airport: If you choose to use the public transit system (called the Chicago Transit Authority, which everyone calls the “CTA”), the trip from O’Hare to Hyde Park takes the better part of two hours and costs no more than $5.00. You will need to take one train and one bus. From the baggage claim level, follow signs for the CTA Trains. In the station, buy a CTA card at one of the kiosks, loading it with $5 to $10 (maybe a little more if you plan to go around Chicago during the conference). Board the train (which goes along the “Blue Line”) and, after a roughly 45-minute ride, get off at the Jackson stop. You’re not in the middle of downtown Chicago. From here you’ll head upstairs to street level, walk east one block to the intersection of Jackson and State Streets, and catch the #6 bus, using the same CTA card. If you’re not sure where to catch the #6, just ask anyone where to get the #6 bus heading south (do not go north). The #6 bus will take you straight to Hyde Park along the beautiful Lake Shore Drive. There are several stops in Hyde Park, but we recommend you get off on 57th Street and walk a few blocks to central campus, as shown here.) Alternatively, you may take a taxi from O’Hare to Hyde Park, which costs about $50 and takes about 45 minutes—except during rush hour, when it may take twice as long. If you get arrive in the afternoon or early evening, it may actually take less time to come by public transit.
From Midway Airport: Midway Airport is closer to the university, and you only need to take one bus. Follow signs for the CTA Trains, which will also lead you to the CTA buses. Board the #55 bus to Hyde Park and, after about 45 minutes (maybe a little longer during rush hour, but not much), get off at University Avenue, as shown here. A taxi from Midway to Hyde Park costs about $30 and takes about half an hour. The CTA has a helpful website with details about airport transit. The Chicago Department of Aviation also has a website with details about airport terminal layouts and transportation options.
From Union Station: If you arriving by train, you will come in to Union Station. From there walk east to State Street (about 7 blocks), from which you can catch the same #6 bus to Hyde Park as described above (see “From O’Hare Airport”).
If you’re confused: Ask someone! You’ll be in busy areas, and most people are friendly and will be happy to help you get where you need to go, including bus drivers.
How to Get Around the City
Downtown Chicago consists of the main commercial district (known as “the Loop” after the above-ground train tracks that form a loop in this area) and residential, retail, and/or recreational areas on all sides. Most of the downtown action takes place around Millennium Park and along Michigan Avenue north of the river (called the “Magnificent Mile”). There are also restaurants all over the city, which you can easily search online and generally access by public transit. The areas around downtown and on much of the north side are largely safe, but take normal precautions as you would in any big city.
The quickest and most affordable ways to get between Hyde Park and downtown are the Metra Electric commuter rail and the #6 bus. To get to the conference site at Stuart Hall, get off at 59th Street and then west onto the Quad, as shown here.
To get anywhere beyond the Loop, the quickest route is to take the “L” trains (known as such whether they’re underground or elevated). From Hyde Park, take the #55 or the #59 bus west to where these streets intersect with the Green or the Red Line. Use CTA Bus Tracker to find out when the next bus is due.
With a CTA card, available through machines at the airport and at most train stations, bus and train fare is $2.25, and a transfer costs 25 cents. If you don’t purchase a CTA card, only buses accept cash, and they require exact change. Unlimited-ride visitor passes also are available for one, three, and seven days. For more information, visit www.transitchicago.com.
Here are a few options for paid lodging, mostly in Hyde Park. With the exception of the last one (which is downtown right on the #6 bus route), all of these listings are within walking distance from the university campus and some are affiliated with the University of Chicago in some way. (If you decide to stay somewhere else in the city, keep in mind that it will take at least half an hour — or more! — to get here.) **If you have stayed in the International House at previous conferences, please note that I-House is not available for lodging this year.
- Hyatt Place ($178): The newer of two hotels in Hyde Park, the Hyatt Place is located only a few blocks north of campus and in the heart of the 53rd Street action. While more expensive than the other options, it is convenient, full-service, and has plenty of rooms
- La Quinta Inn ($149): This hotel is freshly renovated renovated and we are happy to add it as another local hotel option. Please not, however, that it’s on the north edge of Hyde Park, with a nearby shuttle that can take you to and from campus. Address: 4900A S Lake Shore Drive.
- Disciples Divinity House ($75–85): The house, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago Divinity School, has two guest rooms available for short-term stays. Each guest room has two twin beds and a private bathroom. Guest room rates are $75 per night for one guest, and $85 per night for two. Address: 1156 E 57th St. To make a reservation, please call 773.643.4411, or email. Website: http://ddh.uchicago.edu/resources/guest-room.shtml.
- McCormick Seminary ($60 single/$90 double): Another excellent inexpensive option. To reserve, contact Monica N. Williams, Coordinator of Guest Housing, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 773-947-6275. Address: 5460 S. University Avenue. Website: http://mccormick.edu/content/guest-housing-facilities.
- Hostelling International-Chicago ($33-109): There are several Hostels in Chicago but HI-Chicago is the closest option. While still rather far away from the University of Chicago campus, it is accessible by the #6 bus, about a 20-minute ride with normal traffic. If you plan to explore Chicago, this might be a good option. See their website to make reservations: http://www.hiusa.org/illinois/chicago/chicago
Parking in Chicago is a competitive sport but this is one area where Hyde Park is a bit less competitive. The Midway Plaisance usually has spots available within a mile of campus, and you may find something closer on a nearby residential street. If you’re not feeling competitive, there are several marked paid parking garages and lots around campus.
The University of Chicago offers free wireless internet access to visiting scholars through something called Eduroam. If your university is a participating institution, you can register at home using your .edu account, which should grant you automatic access. If you encounter any trouble, here are instructions on how to get onto the “eduroam” network during your visit to campus.
While you’re here, you may want to visit the Regenstein Library. You can get a pass at the ID and Privileges Office on the first floor of the library, in the glassed-in area. Just say that you are attending the MEHAT conference and they’ll get you set up. Please note, however, that you will not have borrowing privileges.
Spiritual life services are split between Rockefeller Chapel and Ida Noyes Hall. The spiritual life office is in the basement of Ida Noyes, next door to which is an interfaith worship space accessible to UChicago students with card access. (If you need access, ask one of our volunteers.) At the spiritual life website you will find thorough information about worship spaces and services available on and immediately around campus.
Places to Eat
East of campus, on 57th Street, is a run of places to grab a bite, all of which are clustered either next to or within a couple blocks of each other:
- Medici: a popular, casual sit-down place with basic fare (pizza, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and shakes).
- Noodles Etc.: a popular and inexpensive choice for noodle and rice dishes.
- PACKED: recently opened, serving dumplings with creative fillings using alternating seasonal ingredients.
- Zaleski & Horvath Marketcafe (but everyone calls it “Z&H”): a great place for sandwiches and coffee.
- Salonika: Greek-American diner with a menu that ranges from pancakes and eggs to gyros and moussaka (and burgers, of course).
- Harper Foods (Harper): the closest grocery store to the conference.
Another food ecosystem thrives further north along 55th Street (listed below from west to east, with cross streets given), more remote but perhaps more rewarding:
- Seven-Ten (Ellis): a popular sports bar and restaurant with American fare, beer, billiards, and bowling.
- Bergstein’s NY Delicatessen (Woodlawn): Hyde Park branch of this famous chain, serving an array of deli sandwiches, including a number of Kosher options.
- The Nile (Woodlawn): Middle Eastern restaurant with partial halal menu.
- Bonjour Café (Lake Park): a quaint French bakery with coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, as well as outdoor seating in the warm season; breakfast and lunch only.
- Treasure Island (on Lake Park, a little north of 55th): major supermarket with a small prepared-foods section.
- Kikuya (Cornell): Japanese restaurant.
- Seoul Corea (Cornell): Korean restaurant.
- Pho 55 (Cornell): Vietnamese food.
- Open Produce (Cornell): a small, handy grocery store with all the essentials, open until 2 am.
- Thai 55 (Cornell): Thai restaurant, a couple doors down from The Snail.
- The Snail (Cornell): Thai restaurant, a couple doors down from Thai 55. (We honestly have no idea why Hyde Park has so many Thai restaurants.)
53rd Street is Hyde Park’s most rapid developing thoroughfare, hosting an array of local shops and restaurants, of which the following is just a selections:
- Valley of Jordan (Ellis): local Middle Eastern grocery store, but also serving hot and cold deli sandwiches with halal meat; a few blocks from the main action, but worth considering if you’re craving a shawarma sandwich.
- Cedar’s (Kimbark): Middle Eastern fare with partial halal menu.
- Hyde Park Produce (Kimbark): Hyde Park’s local and intimate supermarket, with excellent and inexpensive produce, a great deli, and a good selection of Mexican and Middle Eastern staples.
- Yusho (Kimbark): Hyde Park location of this popular sushi chain.
- The Sit-Down (Kimbark): offers sushi, soup, sandwiches, pizza, and cocktails.
- Café 53: local café serving assorted bakery items, gelato, and a range of vegan and halal sandwiches; quiet outdoor patio during the warm season.
- Shinju Sushi (Dorchester): low-key sushi restaurant with (arguably) better sushi than some and an all-you-can-eat deal around lunchtime (which, unlike you might expect, is not gross).
- Giordano’s (Blackstone): Hyde Park location of this popular deep-dish pizza chain.
- Rajun Cajun (Harper): serving vegetarian and vegan dishes of Indian inspiration.
- A10 (Harper): upscale (and pricier) European eatery and barroom.
- Pizza Capri (Harper): a popular local restaurant with unique signature pizzas as well as pasta and other Italian fare.
- Bonne Sante (Harper): Health food store with an outstanding smoothie bar.
- Valois (Harper): a famous comfort food diner that was the subject of an ethnographic study by the former U of Chicago student Mitchell Duneier, called Slim’s Table: Race, Respectability, and Masculinity; cash only.
- Native Foods (Harper): Hyde Park location of this popular vegan chain (you won’t believe they’re not chicken nuggets); part of the Harper Court shopping strip.
- Red Mango (Harper): Hyde Park location of this popular frozen yogurt chain, sold by weight; part of the Harper Court shopping strip.
- Chipotle (Harper Court): burritos.
- The Promontory (Lake Park): upscale eatery and barroom with live music.
Hyde Park is a great neighborhood if you like bookstores. The legendary Seminary Co-op Bookstore is located at 5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue, attached to Plein Air Cafe (see above). It also has a sister store, 57th Street Books, a few blocks away at 1301 East 57th Street. For used books especially, check out Powell’s Bookstore, located on the other end of 57th Street at 1501 East 57th Street.
If you like museums, the nearest place to go is the Oriental Institute, located nearby on 58th Street and University Avenue. Admission is free, and here you’ll find objects recovered by Oriental Institute excavations in permanent galleries devoted to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, and the ancient site of Megiddo, as well as rotating special exhibits. The DuSable Museum of African American History, located on 56th Street and Cottage Grove, is also well worth a visit. Way over on 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, the Museum of Science and Industry is surrounded by beautiful parks.
If you’re interested in architecture, 58th Street and Woodlawn is the architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, which is open to the public and offers tours. “Designed in Wright’s Oak Park studio in 1908 and completed in 1910, the building is both a masterpiece of the Prairie style and renowned as a forerunner of modernism in architecture.”
If it’s art you want, there’s also plenty of free art on exhibit nearby: try the Smart Museum, on 55th Street and Greenwood Avenue, and the Renaissance Society, a very hip exhibition space on the 5th floor of Cobb Hall at 58th Street and Ellis. The Hyde Park Art Center over on 51st Street and Cornell Avenue is worth a trip. For the performing arts, see the calendar for the University of Chicago Presents annual concert series. A new improv and comedy theater on 55th Street, called The Revival, recently opened if that’s your thing. If you want to see a movie, the local Harper Theater shows a limited selection of major-market films, and UChicago’s own film society, Doc Films, puts on a quarterly selection calendar of old and recent favorites, with screenings every night of the week (and some double-features on weekends).
Beyond Hyde Park
Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, is justly renowned for its architecture. The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs many informative walking tours in downtown Chicago and bus tours throughout the region. Most are about 2 hours long, and there is also a popular boat tour along the Chicago river that’s lovely on a nice day. Some of these tours sell out, however, so be sure either to reserve tickets in advance or call before you go.
Chicago also boasts a lively theater scene, from major, world-renowned companies like Goodman (), Steppenwolf (www.steppenwolf.org), and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (www.chicagoshakes.com) to dozens of small fringe and storefront theaters. The theater district downtown is where many of the big musical theater venues are, but unlike New York’s Broadway, Chicago theater is generally more spread-out and low-key. The best web site for what’s currently playing all throughout Chicago, along with many reviews, is: www.theatreinchicago.com. If you like improv, Second City (www.secondcity.com) is an iconic theater where many many well-known comedians started their careers, and you can search online for other excellent improv, sketch-comedy, and stand-up venues.
For more ideas, check out Chicago’s alternative weekly newspaper The Reader, or the weekly magazine Time Out Chicago, available at bookstores and newsstands, for the latest listings for films, performing arts, museums, galleries, and events.
(The information above is current as of March 2016. If you identify an error, or if you know Hyde Park and Chicago and think we’ve missed something, please send us a message at email@example.com.)