The neighborhood of Hyde Park, the home of the University of Chicago, is a great community with a lot to see, and we believe there are worse places to find yourself for a few days in late spring. Here are some resources to get you oriented. You’re also welcome to use our Facebook page to post inquiries about sharing travel or lodging costs with other participants.
Every MEHAT Conference event will take place in Ida Noyes Hall, located at 1212 East 59th Street on the University of Chicago campus.
How to Get There
From O’Hare: Via public transit, the trip from O’Hare to Hyde Park takes the better part of two hours and costs $5.25. From the baggage claim level, follow signs for the CTA Trains. In the station, buy yourself a CTA card; you’ll use this to transfer from the train to the bus. Board the Blue Line downtown and get off at Jackson, a roughly 45-minute ride. From here you’ll head upstairs to street level, walk a block east to Jackson and State Streets, and catch the #6 bus, using your CT. This bus will take you straight to Hyde Park via the beautiful Lake Shore Drive. (The last stop in Hyde Park is 59th Street, which is also where you’d get off to go straight to the conference, as shown here.) Alternatively, a taxi from O’Hare to Hyde Park costs $40 to $50 and takes about 45 minutes — except during rush hour, when it may take twice as long.
From Midway: Follow signs for the CTA Trains, which will also lead you to the CTA buses. Board the #55 or the #59 bus to Hyde Park, and get off at Woodlawn Avenue. A taxi from Midway to Hyde Park costs about $30 and takes about half an hour. The Chicago Transit Authority has a helpful website with details about airport transit. The Chicago Department of Aviation also has a website with details about airport terminal layouts and transportation options.
From Union Station: Walk east to State Street, from which you can catch the #6 bus to Hyde Park.
How to Get Around
Downtown Chicago is known as “the Loop.” The quickest way to get from there to Hyde Park is to take the Metra Electric commuter rail or the #6 bus. To get to the conference site at Ida Noyes Hall, get off at 59th Street and then walk 4 blocks west, as shown here.
To get anywhere beyond the Loop, the quickest route is to take the “L” trains (known as such whether they’re underground or elevated). From Hyde Park, take the #55 or the #59 bus west to where these streets intersect with the Green or the Red Line. Use CTA Bus Tracker to find out when the next bus is due.
With a CTA card, available through machines at the airport and at most train stations, bus and train fare is $2.25, and a transfer costs 25 cents. Only buses accept cash, and they require exact change. Unlimited-ride visitor passes also are available for one, three, and seven days. For more information, visit www.transitchicago.com.
Here are a few options for paid lodging in Hyde Park. All of these listings are within walking distance from the conference site at Ida Noyes Hall, and most are affiliated with the University of Chicago in some way. (If you decide to stay somewhere not in Hyde Park, keep in mind that it will take at least half an hour — or more! — to get here.)
- International House ($65 to 135): We strongly recommend this option. I-House is a pleasant place to stay for visiting scholars, and it’s located only two blocks east of Ida Noyes Hall. It offers a range of housing options, from dorm rooms to fully equipped suites, and you’ll be sharing space with its population of mostly international graduate students. It offers a strong communal atmosphere and a lot of activities, as well as a small cafe that can satisfy your breakfast, lunch, snack, and coffee needs. Alas, I-House doesn’t allow guests under 18 years of age, so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re traveling with children. Reservations can be made at 773-753-2270 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://ihouse.uchicago.edu/residency/residency_short.shtml.
- Disciples Divinity House ($75-85): The house, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago Divinity School, has two guest rooms available for short-term stays. Each guest room has two twin beds and a private bathroom. Guest room rates are $75 per night for one guest, and $85 per night for two. 1156 E 57th St. To make a reservation, please call 773.643.4411, or email. Website: http://ddh.uchicago.edu/resources/guest-room.shtml.
- Quaker House ($50): This is a good, inexpensive option for a self-organized group. The room in question has two full and two twin beds, a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen. The location is right in the heart of campus, a very good and convenient location just two blocks north of Ida Noyes Hall. 5615 S. Woodlawn Ave. To check out availability please fill out the Reservation Form or call 773- 288-3066. Website: http://www.57thstreetmeeting.org/ReservationInfo.
- McCormick Seminary ($60 single/$90 double): Another excellent inexpensive option, located at 5460 S. University Avenue. To reserve, contact Monica N. Williams, Coordinator of Guest Housing, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 773-947-6275. Website: http://mccormick.edu/content/guest-housing-facilities.
Parking in Chicago is a competitive sport, but this is one area where Hyde Park is a bit less competitive. The Midway Plaisance usually has spots available within a mile of Ida Noyes Hall, and you may find something closer on a nearby residential street. If you’re not feeling competitive, here’s a map of paid parking sites on campus.
The University of Chicago offers free wireless internet access to visiting scholars through something called Eduroam. If your university is a participating institution, you can register at home using your .edu account, which should grant you automatic access. If you encounter any trouble, here are instructions on how to get onto the “eduroam” network during your visit to campus.
While you’re here, you may want to visit the Regenstein Library. You can get a pass at the ID and Privileges Office on the first floor of the library, in the glassed-in area. Just say that you are attending the MEHAT conference and they’ll get you set up.
Our conference site in Ida Noyes Hall is a mere stone’s throw (though we do not advise this) from Rockefeller Chapel, which serves as the hub of the university’s spiritual life. Here you will find the Muslim prayer room, in the Chapel’s Interreligious Center. Here you will also find Christian services held in the main chapel on Sunday at 11 a.m. The university neighborhood hosts a range of Jewish minyans, institutions, and community groups. Here is a full list of local religious institutions.
Places to Eat
Close to Ida Noyes, on 57th Street, is a run of places to grab a bite:
- Medici: a popular, casual sit-down place with basic fare: pizza, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and shakes.
- Noodles Etc.: a popular and inexpensive choice for noodle and rice dishes.
- Edwardo’s: one of our two deep-dish Chicago-style pizza joints.
- Zaleski & Horvath Marketcafe (Z & H): a great place for sandwiches and coffee.
- Salonika: a classic Greek-American diner with a menu that ranges from pancakes and eggs to gyros and moussaka (and burgers, of course).
- Café 57: a great cafe for coffee, pastries, and gelato.
- Harper Foods (Harper): the closest grocery store to the conference.
Another food ecosystem thrives further north along 55th Street, more remote but perhaps more rewarding:
- Bonjour Café (Lake Park): a French bakery with coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
- Seven-Ten (Ellis): a popular place for bar food, beer, and bowling.
- The Nile (Cornell): a good Middle Eastern place.
- The Snail (Cornell): Thai food.
- Seoul Cora (Cornell): delicious Korean food.
- Kikuya (Cornell): Japanese food.
- Treasure Island (Lake Park): the Hyde Park outpost of “America’s most European supermarket.”
At the far reaches of 53rd Street dwells a distant galaxy of even more exotic fare, indeed (arguably) some of Hyde Park’s best:
- The Sit-Down (Dorchester): offers soup, sandwiches, pizza, cocktails, and sushi.
- Hyde Park Produce (Kimbark): Hyde Park’s most enjoyable market, with excellent and inexpensive produce, a great deli, and a good selection of Mexican and Middle Eastern staples.
- Shinju Sushi (Dorchester): their sushi is more delectable than some, with an all-you-can-eat deal.
- Cedar’s: probably the best Middle Eastern restaurant in Hyde Park.
- Ribs ‘N Bibs (Dorchester): surely the best barbeque in Hyde Park.
- Rajun Cajun (Harper): serving vegetarian dishes of Indian inspiration.
- Pizza Capri (Blackstone): arguably the best pizza in Hyde Park, and pasta dishes, too.
- Giordano’s (Blackstone): our other deep-dish pizza joint.
- Valois (Harper): a famous diner that was the subject of an ethnographic study by the former U of Chicago student Mitchell Duneier, called Slim’s Table: Race, Respectability, and Masculinity.
Hyde Park is a great neighborhood if you like bookstores: the legendary Seminary Co-op Bookstore has recently relocated to newly spacious and above-ground digs at 5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue. It also has a sister store, 57th Street Books, at 1301 East 57th Street. For used books especially, check out Powell’s Bookstore, located on the other end of 57th Street at 1501 East 57th Street. Between these two pillars of the bookstore community are a handful of others worth checking out.
If you like museums, the first place to go is the Oriental Institute, located nearby on 58th Street and University Avenue. Admission is free, and here you’ll find objects recovered by Oriental Institute excavations in permanent galleries devoted to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, and the ancient site of Megiddo, as well as rotating special exhibits. The DuSable Museum of African American History, located on 56th Street and Cottage Grove, is also well worth a visit. Way over on 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, the Museum of Science and Industry is surrounded by beautiful parks.
If you’re interested in architecture, 58th Street and Woodlawn is the architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, which is open to the public and offers tours. ”Designed in Wright’s Oak Park studio in 1908 and completed in 1910, the building is both a masterpiece of the Prairie style and renowned as a forerunner of modernism in architecture.”
If it’s art you want, there’s also plenty of free art on exhibit nearby: try the Smart Museum, on 55th Street and Greenwood Avenue, and the Renaissance Society, a very hip exhibition space on the 5th floor of Cobb Hall at 58th Street and Ellis. The Hyde Park Art Center over on 51st Street and Cornell Avenue is worth a trip.
Beyond Hyde Park
Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, is justly renowned for its architecture. The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs many informative walking tours in downtown Chicago and bus tours throughout the region.
Chicago also boasts a lively theater scene, from major, world-renowned companies like Steppenwolf (www.steppenwolf.org) and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (www.chicagoshakes.com) to dozens of small fringe and storefront theaters. This web site lets you search most Chicago theaters by date: www.theatreinchicago.com. The improv troupe Second City (www.secondcity.com) has spawned the careers of many well-known comedians, and Chicago boasts several other excellent improv, skit- comedy, and stand-up venues.
For more ideas, check out Chicago’s alternative weekly newspaper The Reader, or the weekly magazine Time Out Chicago, available at bookstores and newsstands, for the latest listings for films, performing arts, museums, galleries, and events.
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