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Hyde Park/Kenwood Year in Review: 5 Stories That Mattered to Locals in 2013

By Sam Cholke | December 30, 2013 7:20am
 Hadiya Pendleton's murder and huge investments by the University of Chicago rocked Hyde Park and Kenwood.
5 Things That Mattered Hyde Park
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HYDE PARK — The south lakefront changed dramatically over the last year, both physically and in the minds of those who live there. Here are five things that shaped neighborhoods from Kenwood to South Shore in 2013.

1. Hadiya Pendleton’s Murder: The shooting death of the King College Prep sophomore became a symbol of Chicago’s violence. Pendleton’s death drew the attention from President Barack Obama, who referenced the Kenwood student in his State of the Union address and made a trip to Hyde Park to address violence. The incident was cited by many as a symbol of the severity of violence on the South Side and how much is driven, not by drugs or money, but by personal disputes.

2. Harper Court Opens: The largest single development in Hyde Park in decades, a 12-story University of Chicago office building, opened in November to much fanfare. The development is the most obvious sign of the University of Chicago’s efforts to remake 53rd Street. Those plans got their loudest celebrations as chef Mathias Merges’ A10 restaurant and a Hyatt Place hotel opened, and the most vocal condemnations as neighbors sued to halt construction on a 13-story apartment building.

3. Lucas-Hobson Wedding: The creator of the “Star Wars” franchise, George Lucas, rented out Hyde Park’s iconic Promontory Point park for a wedding reception that included a performance by Prince and was attended by such stars as Robin Williams, Hayden Christensen and others. Chicago, bride Mellody Hobson's hometown, is rarely seen as the playground of the rich and famous, and it was unique to see such a high-profile private event staged on the South Side.

4. Protests at University of Chicago: Protests demanding a trauma center at the University of Chicago opened the year with controversy, as several protesters and students were arrested during a sit-in and the dean of the medical school was driven to face critics as the university plans an expansion of its emergency room. The University of Chicago Police Department was drawn into the scuffle when it became clear detectives infiltrated the protests undercover without authorization, prompting a review of how the university handles protests on campus that involve students. The year closed with state legislators jumping into the debate and holding hearings on whether and where a trauma center should be located on the South Side.

5. Public School Closures and Budget Cuts: Schools in Hyde Park and Kenwood struggled to figure out how to accommodate students from shuttered schools as Chicago Public Schools slashed budgets and demanded schools now pay for necessities like toilet paper out of their own budgets. Layoffs crippled some schools' language and special education offerings as school boosters found they could make little headway against the priorities of the central office.