On my way down to the University of Chicago campus recently to give a tour, I realized that the tremendous socioeconomic change that has taken place on the mid-South Side could really open up Hyde Park to the rest of the city. From an “artist colony in Bridgeport”:http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/travel/19surface.html (written up in the NY Times!) to the rapid infill of formerly bombed-out “Bronzeville”:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/photos/chi-060205kenwood2-story,1,460184.story?coll=chi-photos-utl, Hyde Park is no longer the island it once was. Sure enough, brochures on campus touted “Arts & Culture in Hyde Park”:http://arts.uchicago.edu to tourists, and placards on trains throughout the city trumpeted the new Hyde Park Arts Center. Scores of people, mostly Chicagoans, showed up at the tours — many more than I was expecting, even with the lovely weather.
Perhaps most interestingly, the university has started a Experience Chicago site which _recommends_ that students use the Garfield bus and Red Line to get across town, and even lists gay bars in South Shore. Big, big difference.
To wit, I recently got a party invitation set for a gallery space near 41st & State, once probably the epicenter of South Side decay. Now that the Taylor Homes are gone, it’s wide open!