Urban Neighborhoods: Tampa's Hyde Park

June 8, 2012 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a visit to Tampa's version of Jacksonville's Riverside/Avondale: Hyde Park

Hyde Park History

Hyde Park Avenue in 1905.

The year 1886 forecast a new era in Tampa. Staggering under the blow of yellow fever epidemics which had closed everything from hotels to cigar factories, the City of Tampa received word that Henry Bradley Plant would spend a “million dollars or more” developing Port Tampa and would build a splendid resort, the Tampa Bay Hotel, on the western bank of the Hillsborough River. To support this development, the  city agreed to extend Lafayette Street (now Kennedy) a half-mile west of the river and build a bridge at that point. It was from Jesse J. Hayden, owner of the ferry across the river, and his daughter Mrs. Donald McKay that Plant bought the land for the Tampa Bay Hotel.

In 1888 the bridge was erected, Plant extended his railroad across the river, and the cornerstone of Tampa Bay Hotel was laid. When Plant sent out invitations to the grand opening ball in January 1891, one telegraphed reply read “Where is Tampa Bay” Plant wired his response “Follow the crowd.”

The construction of this bridge made the area west of the river accessible to Tampa and prompted the development of Hyde Park. The hotel construction project invigorated the economy of the city and further encouraged growth west of the river.

As early as 1829, Levi Coller had farmed the area and sold vegetables to the U.S. Army outpost at Fort Brooke in downtown Tampa. In 1838 this land passed to his daughters and their husbands, Jeanette and W. T. Haskins (who returned east of the river for lack of a bridge), and Nancy and Robert Jackson. In 1886 O.H. Platt of Hyde Park, Illinois purchased 20 acres from Jackson and named the area Hyde Park.

Citrus groves covered much of the area west of the river, until building in Tampa’s first suburb prevailed. James M. Watrous, who built his home at 1307 Morrison Avenue in 1882, and William A. Morrison who established a residence at 850 Newport Avenue by 1885 were early citrus growers. By 1910 all the large citrus groves had been subdivided encompassing nearly 100 acres south of Swann Avenue between Magnolia and Orleans Avenue.

Hyde Park is a combination of individual subdivisions developed in a conventional grid with the major street perpendicular to the Bayshore. In 1907, Swann and Holtsinger began filling the mud flats along the waterfront “and in 1914, Bayshore paved, but the concentration of building before 1915 did not face the Bay.

The main artery into the development of quarter acre lots was the 80 foot wide Hyde Park Avenue. Streetcar service along Swann and Rome existed as early as 1892, and along Bayshore by 1909, adding the accessibility of Hyde Park established by the bridge and the railroad.

Between 1913 and 1928, the area flourished. Large revival style residences continue to appear until the Florida building boom of 1924-26 ended abruptly, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929 engulfed not only Florida, but the entire nation in the Great Depression. After the Depression, construction in Hyde Park followed the national trend toward smaller homes. Although the post World War II growth trend in Tampa was to the west and northwest, the neighborhood remained relatively stable until the shift back to near-urban living and the emerging popularity of preservation in the 1970s and 1980s stimulated a new period of development in Hyde Park.

The University of Tampa (originaly the Tampa Bay Hotel)

In 1886, O. H. Platt laid out what is now Hyde Park next to the Tampa Bay Hotel (now the University of Tampa), a resort built along the Hillsborough River by Plant. The subdivision with tree-shaded streets and bungalows was a stroll away from Bayshore Boulevard and its sweeping vistas of Hillsborough Bay. It was home to many of Tampa's wealthiest and most influential business and civic leaders, including Alfred Swann.

Rome Avenue

Growth occurred rapidly and a street car line was put in on Swann Ave and Rome Ave. This is the reason for the wideness of the two streets, while most in the neighborhood are much narrower.

Swann Avenue

There are two public school located in Hyde Park. Gorrie Elementary School claims to be the oldest operating elementary school in the state of Florida. It was built in 1889 as Hyde Park Grammar School. As the student population grew and they moved into its present location on De Leon Street, it was determined necessary to construct an additional building. This led to the first indoor toilets in a Hillsborough County School ("Gorrie elementary school,"). In 1915, the name was changed to Dr. John B. Gorrie Elementary School who among other medical advances, invented the ice making machine. In 1977, in part to urban renewal and preservation, Gorrie Elementary was renovated and again in 1995 to accommodate technology retrofitting. Gorrie Elementary has consistent been a high achieving school and in years past “won the Golden School Award, the Five Star School Award for community involvement, and the Florida School Recognition Award for sustained and improved academic performance” ("Gorrie elementary school,"). It is also only one of a few public elementary schools to “receive a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 10 out of 10”.
http://www.ehydepark.org/images/designs/usf study hyde park 2009.pdf

Bayshore marks the eastern boundary of the neighborhood. The street is known for its scenic, gently curving greenway and views of the water and skyline. It holds the record as the world's longest sidewalk.

Bayshore during the 1920s.

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