As a student at the University of Chicago in the 1990's, I was lucky enough to live in the Jackson Park Highlands section of Chicago's South Shore neighborhood for three years. Childhood home to first lady Michelle Obama, this ethnically diverse middle class neighborhood on Lake Michigan offers convenience, culture, and history. Bound by 67th Street to the North, 79th Street to the South, the lake to the East, and Stony Island Avenue to the West, the neighborhood is home to the South Shore Cultural Center and offers a delightful combination of diverse dining experiences, historic architecture, and outstanding views of Lake Michigan. Hyde Park, home to the university, lies just to the North.
The South Shore neighborhood contains examples of many of the architectural masterpieces that Chicago is known for. These tree-lined streets are filled with representatives of Dutch Colonial, Tudor, and Prairie School homes. The pride of the citizens of this area, however, is the South Shore Cultural Center. This publicly owned park was originally designed as an exclusive country club in 1905 but is now home to a multitude of fine and performing arts programs for both adults and children. The center also houses a culinary institute, and, while there is no beach access in the South Shore neighborhood, an 18 mile lakefront trail passes by the cultural center. The 18 hole course on the lake was my finest golfing experience within the city limits. The neighborhood is home to several art galleries, and all the conveniences of city living, including groceries and other marts, can be found up and down 71st street. There are restaurants catering to every taste from pizza and fried chicken to Chinese and Thai food. For a more upscale experience, the Parrot Cage run by the Washburn Culinary Institute students at the Cultural Center offers fine dining at a reasonable price.
While there is more than enough to see and do in this small enclave, transportation to and from the Loop is always within a mile via the CTA and Metra electric lines. I feel fortunate to have lived in the South Shore neighborhood for even a short time with its rare combination of historic sites, city conveniences, scenic beauty, and cultural attractions. However, my favorite memory of living in South Shore is the diverse mix of artists, students, working people, and families who were my neighbors.