Why Cornell Drive Matters

Why Cornell Drive Matters

I have been a fan of Barack Obama since 2004.

I unapologetically have supported him (and though maybe didn’t like everything he did), you have to remember for many of “us” that look like him, he represented us in an office many of us never thought we see one of us.

I also love the idea of his library (on the south side of Chicago), and even more so the idea that would be more than just a showcase of his eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But I’m a native south sider who commuted to DePaul University every day for five years and continues to use Cornell Drive every time I go to Hyde Park.

Cornell drive is an essential thoroughfare (and a really beautiful drive), on the South side.

There’s no better way to get to the Museum of Science & Industry and to the heart of East Hyde Park then to come northbound off of Stony Island and breeze through Jackson Park via Cornell Drive.

Traffic rarely backs up on it (unlike South Shore Drive & Stony Island), and if you make the handful of lights, it’s a great drive that brings you in on the western side of the Museum of Science & Industry and swings you over to 57th Street.

From there you have the option to go to the museum, cut north and street it down Hyde Park Blvd into the neighborhood.

Or proceed east to the light at Lake Shore Drive (LSD), and head north and continue to Kenwood, Oakwood and other destinations, including downtown.

And man if that’s not one of the ten best drives in the Midwest, I don’t know what is.

But Cornell keeps it all together and flowing.

The hidden jewel is all of that is the Skyway is just to the south of there (north of 79th Street on Stony Island), and you can (with tolls), get into Northwest Indiana and Southern Michigan in a fraction of the time it takes rather than taking Interstates 80 & 94.

I don’t take Cornell Drive as often as I used to (I don’t get down there much these days), but every time I head to Hyde Park or the south loop, I prefer to use LSD and the connecting point is Cornell Drive.

Yes Stony Island is a busy street and takes you into central Hyde Park but it has stop signs, stop lights, Hyde Park High School, The Southside YMCA and parked cars on either side of the street.

Its bumpy, there are buses making stops and it’s a congested urban street.

Cornell Drive is “LSD light”, a few stoplights, some twists and turns but you fly, and those of us that know that road often embrace that drive.

It takes time to get used to it because us veterans make those turns and run with traffic at 35 MPH.

Look I’m all for a “south side museum campus” and I didn’t like when northbound LSD was moved to the west end of Soldier Field Field Museum back in 1996-97 to create the original museum campus.

I was doing my daily commute through that construction and the expansion of McCormick place, I cut my commuter teeth through that process.

I guess when it comes down to it, it’s the memories I have on Cornell Drive. I initially was going to the museums with my parents as a child and later classes and space and science camp and then dates as a young adult.

My late father was a Chicago Transit Authority mobile mechanic (truck 610), and Cornell was his little shortcut through the area.

And my early commuting days are down Cornell Drive, beautiful mornings, warm afternoons and good times with friends.

I just wish there was a way the new Barack Obama library and Cornell Drive could co-exist because that road marks our past through the area and our path to success.

And the planned library is our future and legacy of the man who represented “us”.

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