Hyde Park Overview
Hyde Park, home to the University of Chicago, is a diverse, historic neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. It is located approximately seven miles from downtown Chicago, with Lake Michigan’s waterfront to the east, Washington Park to the west, Kenwood to the north, and Woodlawn to the south.
Many of the University’s students, faculty, and staff live in or near Hyde Park, thanks to its proximity to campus and its numerous cultural, educational, and religious institutions – as well as restaurants, coffee shops, performance venues, and more.
Hyde Park is also home to several important museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry and the DuSable Museum of African American History, and campus itself boasts the Smart Museum of Art, the Renaissance Society, and the Oriental Institute.
Housing in the Hyde Park Area
Hyde Park, along with neighboring South Kenwood and North Woodlawn, offers a full range of housing options, from high-rises and luxury buildings with lake views, to charming vintage three- or four-story walk-up buildings. There are many private apartments in the neighborhood, as well as a limited number of University-owned graduate student units, which typically fill very early. The cost of renting in Hyde Park, as in any neighborhood, depends on many factors, including building amenities, size, and location (proximity to campus, shopping centers, or the lake, for example). In general, it will be much less expensive to share an apartment with one or more roommates than to rent a studio or one-bedroom apartment by yourself.
If you opt for housing in the Hyde Park area, a good way to consider location is to look at the routes for the University’s NightRide shuttle service. It is designed so that each route begins on campus, and any location in the Hyde Park area is within two blocks of a shuttle stop.
- East Hyde Park: This area is home to a mix of options, including the majority of the luxury and high-rise buildings. It is close to Lake Michigan, and provides easy access to public transportation, shopping, and other amenities. Given all of these features, rents may be higher than in other parts of the neighborhood, and street parking in much of this area is limited. It is a 15-25 minute walk to campus.
- Central and West Hyde Park: Primarily composed of older, walk-up style buildings, these areas offer a shorter walk to campus – usually 5-15 minutes. Central Hyde Park is close to shopping centers and restaurants; West Hyde Park is primarily residential. Both areas offer somewhat easier street parking and moderate rental prices, especially for shared multi-bedroom apartments, which are plentiful.
- North Hyde Park/South Kenwood: Also primarily residential, these areas have a mix of apartments and beautiful landmark homes – and even the occasional converted coach house. Access to shopping areas may be easier, but the walk to campus is 15-25 minutes. 53rd Street is Hyde Park’s main retail district. Several stores and restaurants line the street such as Hyde Park Produce, LA Fitness, Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen, Clarke’s Restaurant, Akira, CorePower Yoga, Kilwins Chocolates and Fudge, Starbucks, Binny’s Beverage Depot and numerous others.
- South Hyde Park/North Woodlawn: These residential areas are close to campus – especially to the graduate programs housed south of the Midway Plaisance – but are further from the commercial areas of Hyde Park. Rent prices here are often lower, but students may find having a car desirable for shopping and other errands.
Getting Around Hyde Park
Walking or Biking
Hyde Park is approximately a mile square, so it is typically possible to walk between any two points in the neighborhood in under 30 minutes. Biking is possible almost year-round, and major streets offer bike lanes. Bike racks are available outside of almost every University building. There are also bike-sharing options, including Divvy Bikes, which has several stations in Hyde Park and throughout the city, and offers a discount to University of Chicago students.
Besides walking or biking, the University offers a variety of transit options. During the day, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates two routes (#171 and #172), which are free to University students and employees. In addition, the University provides several shuttle routes, distinctive white buses which start from the center of campus and run various routes around Hyde Park, North Woodlawn, and South Kenwood. A convenient transit app lets you track each of the buses and shuttles.
No matter where you live in Hyde Park, you will want to spend plenty of time exploring the city of Chicago. The area is served by several public transit options, including buses and trains that are part of the CTA, as well as Metra Electric trains. Traveling via the CTA using their Ventra Card system has the advantage of allowing you to transfer between buses and trains all over the city, while the Metra train runs on a fixed schedule and is the fastest route if you are only headed as far as downtown.
As in all big cities, parking in Hyde Park can be a challenge. After 8 a.m. on weekdays, expect to spend 30 minutes or more finding street parking within several blocks of campus; in the residential areas, the same will be true early in the morning and after 5 p.m. If you plan to drive to campus, you may want to apply for a monthly permit for one of the campus parking lots, which is currently $90/month. If you live in Hyde Park and own a car, the ease of street parking varies widely across the neighborhood; very few buildings offer off-street parking, and if it is available, expect to pay $80 - $225 per month in addition to your rent. If your car has Illinois license plates, you will need to purchase an annual street parking permit (“City Sticker”) to park on the streets in Chicago.