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The South Side’s destination treasures: Hyde Park

Wed, Jul 10, 2013

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The Robie House

As you reach the top of the confined, twisting staircase, you emerge onto the open, sunlit second floor veranda.

“Ahhhh,” it’s almost as if you can hear the angels singing.

With long red Roman-style bricks and ornate stained glass windows, Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie-style Robie House is a must-see. Completed in 1910, the house quickly went through a series of owners, and was nearly torn down, before being given preservation status.

Situated on a narrow lot at the corner of 58th and Woodlawn, the house has a distinctively elongated, horizontal design. Large overhangs shade the many verandas, as if an M.C. Escher drawing were brought to life.

The front door, just off the side of the building, leads to a small, low-ceilinged anti-chamber, designed to get guests through the door and into the home quickly. Guided tours, available Thursday-Monday, reveal new insights about the house every time. Passing a children’s playroom, the tour leads you up the wooden stairs.

On the second floor, a red brick hearth and the stairs serve to separate rooms in what otherwise is an exceptionally open space, with southern sun exposure.

“I’d love to live here,” you think.

For more information, visit http://gowright.org/visit/robie-house/robie-tours-and-programs.html.

Wooded Island

Most people don’t think of a lush green island, filed with ancient trees and colorful birds, when they think of Chicago. But behind the Museum of Science and Industry, that’s exactly what you find.

Built for the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition, the Island was originally a ridge in an uninhabited swamp. The Midway Plaisance originally connected Jackson and Washington Parks, while the Museum of Science and Industry was the Exposition’s Palace of Fine Arts.

The island included a Japanese temple, which burned down early in World War II; in the early 1990s, restoration began on the Osaka Garden. Located at the northern end of Jackson Park, Wooded Island still contains walking trails, and some of the best birding in the city. Parking is available behind the Museum.

Oriental Institute

A recreated section of the famous blue Ishtar Gate of Ancient Babylon named for a Mesopotamian goddess of love and war. A collection of cuneiform tablets, the world’s first writing system. A giant ancient Lamassu, a statue of a creature with bull’s body, eagle’s wings, and human head that guarded an Assyrian king’s throne room.

Those are just the most notable treasures at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, (OI) which possesses one of the largest collections of ancient Near Eastern artifacts in the world. Along with a substantial research operation (and field projects in Egypt, Iran, Sudan, Syria and Turkey), the Institute operates a museum.

Located at 1155 E. 58th St., the museum is open to the public Tuesday-Sunday.
Admission is free, though donations ($10 adults/$5 children) are encouraged. Group tours include opportunities for a simulated archeological dig or dressing up in ancient costumes. For more information, visit http://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/ or call 773.702.9520.

By Duncan Weinstein
StreetWise Editorial Intern

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