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Hyde Park Urban Renewal views

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website www.hydepark.org and Preservation and Development/Zoning task force. Join the Conference: your dues support our work.

 

An areal of the late 1940s showing  Hyde Park from the southwwest

Hyde Park in the late 40s from Washington Park. Forged. UC married student housing from the war years. Center old Stagg Field. Note the prominence of Promontory Point upper right--and no University Apartments on its 55th St. axis. Upper left: high-rise luxury apartments and 5th Army hqs built after the IC RR commuter lines were electrified in the1920s. Otherwise the general profile of most HP was low.

55th Street looking eastward and (below) westwad in the late 40s

55th Street 1940s east from Maryland, west from Lk Park

2 area photos showing building density and coverage in central (55th) and southwest Hyde Park

Density and land coverage in southwest Hyde Park (Cottage at top) before urban renewal. The right upper 3 blocks was gained by UC for athletic facilities under special legislation. What remains of the left will soon all be down for Hospitals and University development.
Right: density and land coverage along 55th from Lake Park to Woodlawn. (Ray School had just half a block.

Blight factor map for SECC 1954 Map prepared for SECC in 1954 documenting "composite of blight factors" in a study area for purposed urban renewal. (Not much different from the final "Hyde Park A and B" seen in Map.) Federal and city definitions were quite clear (although application could be subjective!) Intensive surveys were done. Darkest is "dilapidated." Other "deleterious factors" mapped here in grays are "shared sanitary facilities" and "faulty design/excessive land coverage."

A typical 4-flat from World's Fair days so 60 years old at 55th and Woodlawn.

The building that had housed the original Compas Players (Second City) in 1955 starts to come down in 1960. No accomdation for theater etc. was no even thought of.

Alport building at 53rd and Harper took a long fight to demolish. Political-economic forces were powerful.
Left above , a residential "temporary" building put up at the northeast corner of 55th and Woodlawn for 1893 World's Fair crowds. The same building left (northeast corner of 55th and Woodlawn) the building that had housed the original Compass Tavern with Compass Players (Second City) in 1955 starts to come down in 1960. No acclamation for theater etc. was no even thought of. Julian Levi is said to have said "No one brought it to my attention." The building also houses Clark and Clark Booksellers, which moved in total 9 times before going out of business in the late 1960s.

Above an old commercial building perhaps from the same era or a little later at 53rd and Harper that became a cause celebre for demolition in the wind-down of urban renewal. There were plenty of grand buildings that were removed because in the way of something wanted; their demolition was strongly objected to.

 

HPKCC mobilizes a block club for cleanup in the early 50s near a test-case converted building.
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, formed in 1949, in the early to mid 1950s formed some 60 block clubs, which policed housing and crime in their area and were liaison and lynch pin between neighbors, the Conference and trends/plans for the neighbor-hood. Halting fear and rumors a key role. Here a club picks up the trash at Drexel Square, near the west edge of Hyde Park and Kenwood. This locale, by the building that was HPKCC's first housing court case, actually was a demonstration study done by UC Prof. and Block Clubs chair Herb Thelen, documented in a booklet," Neighbors in Action", by Thelen and Bettie Belk Sarchet,published in 1954 by U of C Human Dynamics Lab. This area was integrated; neighbors said the study project helped create a climate of trust.
documentation of neighbors near the Drexel Square test building. 1954 booklet

A Herald cartoon (Frazin) about slum landlord and  building converters

Exposing and overcoming slum landlords engaging in subdivide and bleed buildings dry tactics was a major activity of the Herald, South East Chicago Commission (formed 1952) and the Conference.

The Bee Hive joint  nearing demolitilion on Lake Park.

55th Street and Lake Park Avenue especially lost both renowned and jointy clubs and bars in the name of reducing density and deleterious attractants. Businesses were among those suffering the most from Urban Renewal. Replacement concentrations, ranging from high-end Hyde Park Shopping Center through Kimbark Plaza (a unique cooperative), Village Ctr., and the planned-for-Artisans Harper Court. Hyde Park Ctr. was in the land clearance project Hyde Park A, the others were on Urban Renewal land. Hyde Parkers got legislation passed in Washington finally giving businesses compensation.

The artists colony at 57th near Stony Island, a target of urban renewal

Kimbark Plaza opening in 1963 on 53rd is celebrated.

Above, the 57th Stony art colony, being displaced, inspired the grass-roots created Harper Court shopping center, proposed in March 13. 1963, opened August 4, 1965.

Below it (pic with the grinning men), October 9, 1963 Kimbark Plaza on 53rd opening is celebrated by, l-r, Co-op markets mgr. Walter Sandbach, Herald publisher Bruce Sagan, and News Service owner Everett Ramsey.

Planning urban renewal in the mid 1950s. Jack Meltzer center,  Julian Levi of U of C and SECC seated with glasses.
Planning gets under way. Center planner Jack Meltzer, respected by all sides in the neighborhood's controversies. Left of him with glasses, Julian Levi of SECC, who more than any other person achieved and controlled urban renewal and its planning. Left of Levi is renowned architect Harry Weiss. Webb and Knapp of New York was hired and William Zeckendorff moved here to oversee the land clearance and redevelopment of "Hyde Park A and B". Left, then new Mayor Richard J. Daley starts the clearance in May, 1955 of the frame Sisler house at 5456 S. Blackstone. Right is what the block 2nd to the southeast (northeast corner of 55th and Lake Park) would look like cleared for the future Hyde Park Shopping Center, to be owned by the University. (It was flipped from its original site on the south side of the street.) Fortunately the Deco Arts building (Ritz Garage), below, from which this shot was taken, was spared after it challenged its "dilapidated' designation. It was allowed to spruce up its facade. Planned for the larger Hyde Park A were
540 high-rise apartment units (University Apartments), 250 town houses and a shopping center.

 

Identified as 1955, but possibly later, Mayor Richard J. Daley presides over start of clearance of Hyde Park A for Hyde Park Shopping Center

Block northwest of 55th and Lake Park was cleared c. 1950 for the Hyde Park Shopping Center. The right 3-flat at the back was then or later acquired by the University owned realty arm of the Center and was demolished during reconfiguration in the late 1990s.

Deco Arts Bldg., aka Ritz Garage, a car dealership of the 1920s at Lake Park and 55th with wonderful terra cotta references to auto parts. It fought demolition successfully and is now a fine anchor. Ossewaarde

Courtyard of Hyde Park Shopping Center as reconfigured in the late 1990s.  North side of 55th west of Lake Park at Harper. Ossewaaarde
Shopping Center courtyard, as redeveloped in the 1990s from the rather drab original concrete and faded orange-pink brick. Below left: the commissioned sculpture in 55th street, in sad state now.

Sculture put in the median of 5th near Hyde Park Shopping Center and University Apts. (background) c. 1970. Ossewaarde

I.M. Pei townhouses along 55th St. east of University Apartments. Osseewaarde
What went in south of 55th to 57th and down 55th except the new island were townhouses designed by I.M. Pei to meet contemporary (late '50s, not today's) needs and reflect early 18th century English row houses. They are not street-friendly and were meant to be defendable. See interior drawings in Alternative plans page.

 

I.M. Pei designed University Apardments going up 1960. Orig. UC  News Office

 

University Apartments (now Condomiums) in 55th Street. I.M. Pei, arch. Ossewaarde

Arguably, the signature piece of "Hyde Park A" clearance and redevelopment was University Apartments in the 1400 block of 55th street. Controversial, they live in local urban legend partly for the motivations and reasons supposedly held by planners and Julian Levi. What's for certain is that it did not succeed in calming traffic and that the moniker "monoxide island" came from early problems in the garage. Its plantings are wonderful; this writer thinks the structures elegant (but wouldn't want to see more near it), and when it converted to condo it did not set requirements for owner occupancy. The conversion was called betrayal by some since, they thought, it was built for renters displaced by urban renewal.

1960, 55th St., Woodlawn-Greenwood. Only Greenwood-University has been renewed so far, with Pierce Tower dorm

1960, 55th St., Woodlawn-Greenwood. Only Greenwood-University has been renewed so far, with Pierce Tower dorm (Harry Weese).

55th looking southwest to Ellis as renewal neared? Frollic Theater. Married student housing was to go here; it's now Ratner (much later) with Stagg Field beyond.

55th looking southwest to Ellis as renewal neared? Frolic Theater. Married student housing was to go here; it's now Ratner (much later) with Stagg Field beyond.

Northwest on 55th to Ellis before 1961 demolition. It's now a landscaped berm (tended for many years by HPKCC Garden Fair, now by UC), but then housed poor whites and blacks.

Northwest on 55th to Ellis before 1961 demolition. It's now a landscaped berm (tended for many years by HPKCC Garden Fair, now by UC), but then housed poor whites and blacks.

Looking east down 55th and the berm c. 2000, before the new parking garage/Seven Ten rest. & bowling ? Prominent on the south is Pierce Tower (c. 1958), on the north near is Lutheran School of Theology (1966). Notable is the openness an broad width.

Looking east down 55th and the berm c. 2000, before the new parking garage/now Seven Ten restaurant and bowling? Prominent on the south is Pierce Tower (c. 1958), on the north near is Lutheran School of Theology (1966). Notable is the openness an broad width.

urban renewal demolition in progress

 

rescuing bits of a house about to be demolished. Objects were sold for charity.

Rescuing stained glass windows, banisters et al from buildings being demolished in the late 50s and early 60s. The objects were not preserved but sold for charity. Much photodocumentation was also done by the city and local groups and persons. Only a few of these seem to have survived in such places as Regenstein Library and various historical and art societies. Among the leaders of documentation were Marian Despres (left below top of picture) and Vi Uretz, who made several fine paintings.

Marian Despres and others retrrieve a banister from a structure about to be demolished in urban renewal.

Eero Saarinen designed Kenwood Academy (the new high school)  at 51st and Blackstone
Part of the sprawling campus of Kenwood Academy, designed by a renowned Finnish architect. The high school was a change in the plan from middle '60s (late urban renewal) that was very controversial, so the area is shown "retail commercial" on the definitive plan of December, 1960. The school was proposed by the board of ed. in November, 1965 and plans shown in September, 1966.

 

Cleared area that was to be a reserve for Ray Elementary School in the 5600 block between Kimbark and Kenwood. It was kept as an open school yard; area to left became Bixler Playlot.

 

This half-block east of Ray School, 56-57th and to east of Kenwood on the south, was cleared as reserve for Ray school although there was no blight and it had long been regulated by U of C, which vetoed at least buyers. It did have some commercial, including the famous Tropical Hut restaurant. The land was never redeveloped even after the urban renewal reduction of population and December 30, 1970 (with ribbon cutting) became playing field and play equipment for Ray and later Bixler Playlot. It's heavily used by kids and their parents. There is still occasional griping that it should have stores or housing for students. The balls are an art project by students with an international artist. Building of a fountain in Bixler in the early 1990s re ignited old firestorms about "involving the community."
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