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Hyde Park: People Don't Drink Here?

By JoshMogerman in News on Jan 23, 2011 8:00PM

University of Chicago, Cobb Hall [Larry Miller via Flickr]
Hyde Park has always been a bit of an odd duck. Dominated by the University of Chicago, the neighborhood regularly looks for ways to be a staid rebel, thumbing its nose at both the City’s political machine and the academic powerhouse in its midst. Hyde Parkers seem ready to raise a reserved ruckus at the drop of a hat, whether it is over community gardens, alcohol-related zoning, or fair housing. That contrarian stance has helped to make the area what it is: a quiet, vibrant melting pot and perhaps the most boring campus community around. But does it also cost the neighborhood some serious cash? Five thousand U of C undergrads probably think so, every time they hop a bus or train out of the neighborhood in search of fun.

Tip of the hat to the good folks at Hyde Park Progress who noted this doozy of a story in The Chicago Maroon which helps make the dichotomy between student and resident pretty clear. When Laura Green brought her “barcade” business venture concept to the neighborhood, it seemed like a perfect fit:

“It would be a cross between nerd and awesome, which seems like exactly the kind of thing that the University of Chicago would want,” Green said.

But community and business leaders thought otherwise, noting that there were “plenty of bars already.” Valois Cafeteria manager John Lathouris goes even further, telling The Maroon:

“People don’t drink here.”
Really? Have you hung around any 21-year-old’s lately? It is all they do.

While we would freely admit that partying at University of Chicago means something far different than the ragers at Southern Illinois University or the University of Wisconsin, student quotes in the article and comments online imply that perhaps Hyde Parkers are leaving money on the table with a business climate that actively ignores the desires and purchasing power of the university's 14,000 students. Moreover, that less-than-“Girls Gone Wild” attitude probably makes many of the community concerns about tomfoolery unfounded. We are sure that there will be plenty of comments from the locals to the contrary, but those of us in the Chicagoist’s South Side offices would just like to get a beer in the hood every once in a while. Right now, contrary to the opinions of some, the choices are shockingly limited.