To the Editor:
One of the reactions of long-time Hyde Parkers to Susan Davis’ valuable and obviously timely series on “Lost Hyde Park” must be one of both sadness and outrage, not just for the historic structures we lost but also for the goods and services we no longer have and so far, in the current “urban removal” process, are not getting back.
A short list includes Breslauer’s (dry goods-and-misc.) department store, the Fret Shop (musical instruments and repair), Plants Alive, Cooley’s Candles, the Sewing Circle, Acasa Books, 2nd Time Around, Artisans 21, Buttons and Bows, the Fair Trader, the Green Door and the entire Artist’s Colony on 57th Street. These or similar businesses (e.g. small appliance repair, a tailors, an ice cream parlor, a knitting/crafts shop, an upholsterer) could have been happily housed in the now defunct, historically interesting and irreplaceable greystone rowhouses on Harper. Any of that kind of blend — interesting, varied, designed for ‘browsing-as-well-as-shopping’ — would augment and diversify the stagnant mix of restaurants and “stylish” clothing places now coming to Hyde Park. Instead, we will have a parking lot.
The wanton, unnecessary demolition of those greystones is just one more travesty currently being perpetuated by the “we know best” conglomerate apparently determined to remake Hyde Park into a fancy bedroom community. Current residents who plan to stay and live here probably know that a “bedroom community” is not a “community” and certainly not a “Village.” Residents in such places rarely volunteer for or join or support community organizations or events, since after all they plan to stay only for three to five years.
It seems this is to be the result for Hyde Park faster than one can say “the University of Chicago” or “MAC Properties”, to whom an award for historic preservation is obviously a joke, or at best an accident. I hope these comments elicit thought, debate and even action.