Chicago Studies, a program of the undergraduate College at the University of Chicago, offers curricular and co-curricular opportunities to discover, study, and engage with the diverse communities of our world-class city.
Welcome to 59th and University and the President’s House. Henry Ives Cobb designed the house for the University’s president and it was built in 1895. If you move around to the south side of the house, you can see the original front door on the southeast corner. The original address was 507 59th St and after the implementation of the Brennan Plan, 1146 E 59th St. President Harper like to play his cornet on the porch in the evenings. The original entrance was closed up in the sixties (and the porch removed).
In 1893, during the Columbian Exposition, we would be right across street from the Street in Cairo, the Midway’s most popular attraction (2.25 million visitors). The fascination might have been the “hoochee-koochee” dance of “Fatima” and her hip-swiveling colleagues. Or it might have been the camel and donkey rides. Behind it on the 60th St side was the Moorish Village, with its minarets and an obelisk. The Ferris Wheel was just to the right, where the skating rink is now. The German Village was east of Woodlawn on the 59th St side.
Now I’m going to ask you to walk to 58th and Woodlawn. Woodlawn Ave between 58th and 59th was originally lined with houses. In the 1920s, the University began to assemble the Chapel block. It acquired the houses on the west side of Woodlawn and knocked them down.