Hyde Park was founded in the 1850s by Paul Cornell, a transplant from New York that purchased 300 acres of property along the shores of Lake Michigan from 51st to 55th Streets. While the area was already a popular place to live and visit, two events took place less than 40 years after the neighborhood's founding that helped shape the area into what it is today.
The University of Chicago opened in 1890 and ushered in a new era for the neighborhood. The school, which was launched as an institution of higher learning "to serve the educational needs of the American Baptist community in Chicago," quickly became one of the world's most prestigious universities, "and is now associated with 85 Nobel prize winners."
The other major event happening around the same time was 1893's World's Columbian Exposition. Catapulting the city and neighborhood into prominence on a world wide stage, the exposition was seen a major driver that helped stimulate the growth of Hyde Park. Along with the famed "White City," hundreds of residential and commercial buildings were built in anticipation of the fair. Many of the structures that will built during this time are still standing, but the Palace of Fine Arts, which is now home to the Museum of Science and Industry, is the only building that remains from the fair.