Situated near the southern tip of Lake Michigan, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, with nearly three million living within the city limits. The city is justly famous for its modern architecture and open green spaces, remarkable for a city of such scale, and boasts a thriving commercial center and a flourishing arts community renowned for theater and music. The Encyclopedia of Chicago is a fascinating resource to learn more about the city in general.
Chicagoans themselves are difficult to characterize. They comprise an ethnically diverse population with strong allegiances to neighborhoods. They can combine a cosmopolitan flair with a disarming honesty and midwestern pragmatism that visitors will find charming or surprising depending on taste. They also bear an irrational love for impossible causes, such as the Chicago Cubs. Many of these traits have crept into the bones of the university that carries the city's name.
Our list, while not exhaustive, encompasses some of the many fictional (and a few nonfictional) works set in Chicago, from depictions of the absurdities and enchantments of living between the grid of city streets, to intimate chronicles of life on Chicago's South Side, to historical perspectives on the city. Nelson Algren's tender, tough prose poem is a good place to begin.
Hyde Park and the University are located along the lake, seven miles from downtown. Once an independent town, the Hyde Park neighborhood has a history of social activism, political leadership, and community life; it is also the site of renowned museums and architectural landmarks.
The website of the Office of Campus and Student Life can help you explore the University and its surroundings. There you will find links to websites that will give you a sense of life on campus and that expand that view with information about dining, shopping, attractions, art, theater, movies, dance, sports, including links to some of the most popular online guides used regularly by Chicagoans. This Explore UChicago slideshow will give you a sense of the layout, architecture, landscaping, and atmosphere on campus, while the Humanities Division Calendar showcases the most current happenings in the Division.