Several factors combine to keep Hyde Park’s economic outlook bright. One is the University of Chicago, which since its founding in 1892 has been a stabilizing force in the community and which continues to offer both human and economic resources to the neighborhood.
Not only is the university the largest employer on the South Side, its faculty, staff, and students create a ready-made customer base for community goods and services. More than 60 percent of the university’s faculty lives in Hyde Park, as do almost all undergraduate students and many graduate students and staff members.
The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce has a long history of partnership with the university and with community organizations such as the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) and area elected officials. Working together, these organizations have made great strides in increasing the economic vitality of the greater community.
As a result, Hyde Park and the surrounding neighborhoods are enjoying a true renaissance. The 53rd Street TIF District, for example, is stimulating development and fostering new businesses such as the hot new restaurant Chant, which recently landed on Chicago Magazine’s “Hot List.”
Meanwhile, Woodlawn to the south and Kenwood to the north have seen major redevelopment efforts that will bring thousands of new residents and businesses to the area. The new growth will also help stabilize and increase safety in these neighborhoods immediately adjoining Hyde Park.
Finally, Hyde Park is a national model for successful neighborhood integration. Its population—which has grown steadily since 1990—is well educated and has one of the highest concentrations of buying power in Chicago. It has a long history of community involvement, with residents from all walks of life joining together in grassroots community organizations. In its diversity, it finds strength and vitality.