Although the insane heat of this third hottest Chicago summer in history seems to have broken a bit for the time being, there is no doubt in our minds that it will be back. Probably with a vengeance. Which means, upper 90° weather just as you are trying to move in to your new apartment, lugging couches and boxes of books up and down several flights of stairs.
In dire times such as these, please do not allow yourself to think that we would ever let you squander and melt away in your (presumably) non-air conditioned apartments. As we mentors can attest to, Hyde Park is a very cool place to be in the summer, even in this heat. Where else are you less than a 20-minute walk from a major beach (for your lounging pleasure); awesome lake bike path (for your exercising pleasure); the Museum of Science and Industry (for your viewing pleasure); the Seminary Co-Op (for your reading pleasure); Medici (for your eating pleasure); and the MAPH office (for your everything pleasure)?
We know…right now you have no idea what we just said or where any of those things are. So, as you all start to trickle into the area to get settled before classes start, here’s a little cheat sheet on some of the best Hyde Park has to offer. And, yes, these places are all air-conditioned (or in immediate proximity to a body of water) and worth spending some significant daytime hours in.
1. 57th Street Beach/Promontory Point/Lake Bike Path: You can get to the lake and all three of these wonderful places via 51st street (bridge over Lakeshore Drive at the end of 51st), 55th Street (underground cut-through at the end of 55th at South Shore Drive), and 57th Street (underground cut-through at the end of 57th across from the Museum of Science and Industry). And for those of you who spent your life living near water that was too cold or too gross to swim in (New Yorkers), you can dive headfirst into Lake Michigan worry-free. It is both pleasantly cool and clean. How novel.
2. Seminary Co-Op/Powell’s/O’Gara &Wilson Ltd.: By far three of the best bookstores in all of Chicago. Visit them all in one day, one a day for three days, or make some kind of rotating cycle for yourself so you can somehow go into at least one of them every day for the rest of the summer. They’re that good. Seriously.
3. Museum of Science and Industry/DuSable Museum of African American History/SMART/Oriental Institute: Full of things that will make you feel like you’re 5-years-old again (spaceships, storm simulators, and fairy castles), you are only blocks away from the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. And the Body Worlds exhibit is at the museum, conveniently, until September 5th, which means you can go see it before you jump into the chaos that is graduate study at the University of Chicago. After your visit to MSI, wander outside to the back of the museum where you’ll find a lovely park complete with pond, waterfall, and Japanese Zen gardens. According to Ben, he frequents this park often and you may just find him sitting on the bridge with a fishing pole clutched in his hands. The DuSable Museum is on the other side of the neighborhood near Washington Park and is definitely worth a trip. And, as you begin to explore campus, stop at the SMART and the Oriental Institute for some of UChicago’s own fabulous collections.
4. Medici/Z&H/The Sit Down/Harold’s Chicken Shack: Medici and Z&H could be categorized under bakeries or as general delicious Hyde Park eateries (and they are conveniently right next to each other on 57th Street). Both have a plethora of sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. Go to Medici right when they open at 7:00 for a fresh, hot croissant (the best around). The Sit Down is definitely the place to go for sushi…awesome, fresh, raw…and UChicago students get 10% off! All you have to do is flash your student ID card (directions on how to get this coming soon). They also have fabulous martinis (try the cucumber basil). Harold’s Chicken Shack is…well, it’s in a Kayne West song. And it’s rumored that Obama gets take-out there when he’s in town. Just go…it’s sketchy and frenzied and they only take cash…but you’ll love it. Also, for the summer and fall months, Hyde Park hosts its own farmer’s market out on 61st Street where you can pick up beautiful-looking, locally grown produce.
5. Bonjour Bakery/Robust Coffee/Third World Café: All great options for morning coffee or an afternoon study/reading spot and all much cheaper than Starbucks (yay!). Third World has seriously epic muffins…as in, they’re delicious and you can split one between two people. And, if you stop by Bonjour Bakery and take your sustenance outside, you might be able to enjoy some smooth jazz in the courtyard while you’re eating (we’re not sure exactly when this happens, it seems to be incredibly random…but if you figure out the schedule, let us know).
6. Jimmy’s/The Cove: The two viable options for local drinking establishments. Jimmy’s has a decently-sized menu of fattening comfort food (like grilled cheese made with Velveeta) and you can literally bring anything with you to eat at the Cove (including homemade baked goods). Who needs anything else (according to A-J)? For those of you who do, in fact, need something else, directions on how to easily get to and from downtown coming soon.
7. MAPH Office: The best place to be in the summer! Alright, maybe it doesn’t quite live up to the beach or Medici, but you can definitely stop by, introduce yourself to us, grab some tea or coffee, and hang out in the air-conditioning. There’s also the Anscombe Lounge at your disposal with comfy couches and more air-conditioning. For those of you just moving to the area and having internet problems during the relocation (because there are always internet problems in a new place), once you get your CNet ID, come hang out in the lounge and use the campus wireless.
Phew…there you have your not-so-short Hyde Park cheat sheet. If you have questions/comments/concerns, the first place to stop would be the MAPH Office so Ben, A-J, and I can make sure you are thoroughly enjoying your first summer in Hyde Park.