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Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park

With a Foreword by John Vinci
Stretching south from 47th Street to the Midway Plaisance and east from Washington Park to the lake’s shore, the historic neighborhood of Hyde Park—Kenwood covers nearly two square miles of Chicago’s south side. At one time a wealthy township outside of the city, this neighborhood has been home to Chicago’s elite for more than one hundred and fifty years, counting among its residents presidents and politicians, scholars, athletes, and fiery religious leaders. Known today for the grand mansions, stately row houses, and elegant apartments that these notables called home, Hyde Park—Kenwood is still one of Chicago’s most prominent locales.

Physically shaped by the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and by the efforts of some of the greatest architects of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—including Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe—this area hosts some of the city’s most spectacular architecture amid lush green space. Tree-lined streets give way to the impressive neogothic buildings that mark the campus of the University of Chicago, and some of the Jazz Age’s swankiest high-rises offer spectacular views of the water and distant downtown skyline.

In Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park, Susan O’Connor Davis offers readers a biography of this distinguished neighborhood, from house to home, and from architect to resident. Along the way, she weaves a fascinating tapestry, describing Hyde Park—Kenwood’s most celebrated structures from the time of Lincoln through the racial upheaval and destructive urban renewal of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s into the preservationist movement of the last thirty-five years. Coupled with hundreds of historical photographs, drawings, and current views, Davis recounts the life stories of these gorgeous buildings—and of the astounding talents that built them. This is architectural history at its best.

504 pages | 343 halftones, 11 line drawings | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2013

Architecture: American Architecture

Chicago and Illinois

History: American History


“Susan O’Connor Davis’s work draws well-deserved attention to Hyde Park-Kenwood’s beautiful buildings and details their history. These architectural gems are a lasting legacy for future generations.”

Toni Preckwinkle | Cook County Board President

“Few city neighborhoods have been as studied as Chicago’s Hyde Park. Susan O’Connor Davis has created an extraordinary guide to a remarkable place. Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park is a compelling visual account that introduces the reader not only to a complex local history, but also to one grounded firmly in the larger currents of both architectural change and urban development. Davis’s account ranges from Paul Cornell’s early Hyde Park through the still controversial urban renewal era and right up to current preservation efforts. This meticulously researched, wonderfully illustrated, lovingly written, and well-documented book is an important contribution to the history of Chicago and urban America.”

Dominic A. Pacyga | author of Chicago: A Biography

“In Hyde Park, unlike many Chicago neighborhoods, major Chicago architects completed residential commissions for wealthy Chicago families. At the same time, the broad currents of changing population and economics brought dramatic change, as Hyde Park moved from an elite enclave to a diverse neighborhood within a vibrant city. Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park provides a richly illustrated and detailed view of a neighborhood that has been the home to many influential Chicagoans, including President Obama. Expanding on Jean Block’s groundbreaking Hyde Park Houses, Susan O’Connor Davis explores the evolution of housing over the twentieth century, showing how these broad patterns affected the stories of individual families, homes, and properties. And in so doing, she brings history to life.”

Ann Durkin Keating | author of Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide

“Susan O’Connor Davis has created an invaluable resource for urban planners, preservationists, architects and anyone else who simply loves learning about the history of one of Chicago’s most fascinating neighborhoods.”

Jonathan Fine | Executive Director, Preservation Chicago

“While relating the rich and nuanced stories of the structures that defined Hyde Park and Kenwood over the past century and a half, Susan O’Connor Davis closely examines the always evolving, often controversial social dynamics of those neighborhoods. Would that every neighborhood in the country had a book like this!”

Patrick Reardon | former urban affairs writer of the Chicago Tribune

“Davis looks at Hyde Park, long an incubator of ideas for scholars, writers, athletes, religious leaders, politicians, and others. . . . Arranged chronologically and geographically, Davis’s book—replete with remarkably clear black-and-white photographs of extant and demolished buildings—includes vignettes of nationally or locally famous persons. . . . Recommended.”


Table of Contents

Foreword, by John Vinci

1 A Tapestry Unfolds, 1847–1870
2 Living Patterns, 1871–1891
3 Threads of Gray, White, and Gold, 1892–1908
4 The Urban Fabric, 1909–1919
5 Blood Stains, 1920–1929
6 Frayed Edges, 1930–1948
7 Deconstruction, 1949–1978
8 Preservation, 1979–2012

Epilogue: Rewoven
Appendix. Architects: Biographies and Structures
Figure Credits
Index of Addresses
Subject Index


Hyde Park Historical Society: Hyde Park Historical Society: Jean F. Block Award

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