The teen creators and supporters of five Hyde Park walking tours, released for free through the Chicago Strolls app, load up Carmin Weathersby's "Creativity and Good Eats" tour before setting off from the Hyde Park Art Center Saturday afternoon. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

HYDE PARK — Longtime South Siders and first-time visitors alike can learn more about Hyde Park and Kenwood through the eyes of local teens who created audio tours of the neighborhoods.

Five high school students worked with The Flowers for the Living Foundation, a local arts and youth organization, and Art Processors, an Australian museum design firm, to develop walking tours of the community during a creative writing workshop.

The tours are available for free through the Chicago Strolls app on the App Store and Google Play store. They include:

  • “A Beautiful Boulevard,” a tour of Hyde Park Boulevard locations like the Hyde Park Barber Studio, Uncle Joe’s Jerk Chicken and several residences. It was created by Whitney Young High School freshman Caden Crudup.
  • “A Pretty Picture,” which tours picturesque sites along Blackstone Avenue including colorful homes, Virtue restaurant and the Love and Light Café. The tour was created by Whitney Young High School junior Carly Crudup.
  • “Going Green,” a green-themed tour created by Whitney Young High School freshman Zaire Green. The tour includes stops at the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority headquarters, the Tamago bike repair shop and Ray Bixler Park.
  • “A Scenic Travel Through Kenwood,” which hits Kenwood Academy High School, the T.B. Blackstone Library, Billy’s Barn Garden and other neighborhood landmarks. Kenwood Academy sophomore Daniah Hill created the tour.
  • “Creativity and Good Eats,” Chicago High School for the Arts sophomore Carmin Weathersby’s tour, which includes the Hyde Park Arts Center, the 51st Street viaduct mural and the Silver Room.

The creators as well as their supporters and loved ones gathered Saturday at the Hyde Park Arts Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., to unveil the tours and walk along Weathersby’s “Creativity and Good Eats” route.

“It was a different experience that I feel like I’ve never had before, and [one] I feel like I wouldn’t get from anywhere else,” Carly Crudup said. “I feel like we learned different things about parts of our community that I might have walked past every day, but not necessarily taken the time to look at and be like, ‘Wow.'”

Flowers for the Living executive director Harold Green (foreground) and a group of about 25 supporters listen to Carmin Weathersby’s audio tour of Hyde Park, “Creativity and Good Eats,” during Saturday’s launch celebration. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Posters and maps advertising the five tours of Hyde Park and Kenwood created by local high school students, as seen during Saturday’s launch party for the updated Chicago Strolls app at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

The students developed the tours based on locations that are meaningful to them. They wrote and recorded scripts through a three-week, paid writing workshop this summer.

The walking tours are valuable and informative regardless of how familiar someone is with the Hyde Park area, the teen creators said.

“Someone who lives in Hyde Park, I would want them to notice the detailed scenery that they walk across every day,” Zaire Green said. “When you live somewhere, it’s easy to just pass by something and kind of take it for granted. [The tours can help] you just appreciate what has been built around you.”

The tours can also put tourists and new residents on to the history and beauty of “one of the greatest towns in the world,” Green said.

Carmin Weathersby (with pink headphones), creator of the “Creativity and Good Eats” tour, and others listen to Weathersby’s narration in front of the Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park. The popular retailer is one of 11 stops along Weathersby’s 15-minute tour. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Whitney Young High School freshman Zaire Green laughs Saturday as he shares his experience creating the “Going Green” walking tour of Hyde Park during the launch of the updated Chicago Strolls app at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

Participants were paid $1,500 and own their final projects, said poet and writer Harold Green, executive director of the Flowers for the Living Foundation and Zaire Green’s father.

That means the students can include their work as part of a portfolio as they apply to a creative college major or a professional position, he said.

Museum professionals and creative writers mentored the students and took them on field trips as they fleshed out the walking tours, including a beach trip to end the summer.

“To see the bonds that grew and how much fun these young people had together — when we think about these narratives that are thrown around about Chicago and Chicago’s youth, it was a really beautiful thing,” Harold Green said. “It really filled my heart watching them play, be young, be beautiful and be brilliant.”

The experience was a way to connect more deeply with the community and its history, said Caden Crudup, a Woodlawn resident. He plays basketball with Zaire Green on Team Rose, the Amateur Athletic Union team backed by NBA star and Chicago native Derrick Rose.

“Coming into the summer, I kind of was looking at it as like a job,” Caden Crudup said. “When I actually started the program, it was more than that. It was like I actually had fun doing it. I really enjoyed it.”

The Hyde Park tour is the second in a series exploring Chicago neighborhoods. A Bronzeville tour is also available through the Chicago Strolls app.

Students from Wendell Phillips, DuSable and other local high schools contributed to the Streets of Bronzeville Walking Tour, which includes neighborhood spots where the students spent time as young kids.

Organizers plan to work with local students to create bilingual tours of Pilsen for the next project in the series, Harold Green said.

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