Urban Neighborhoods: Tampa's Hyde Park

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

Published June 8, 2012 in Cities - MetroJacksonville.com

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.

Hyde Park is one of the largest and most cohesive collections of early 20th century residential architecture in the United States. The buildings in Historic Hyde Park generally date from 1900 to 1930, and encompass a wide variety of architectural styles.  Historic Hyde Park, particularly the area west of Rome Ave, has a large concentration of bungalow type homes.

Bungalow Terrace in 1984.

The area is supported and advocated for by the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association (HHPNA for short), which acts more like a civic alliance than the typical neighborhood organization by protecting the historic integrity of the area, establishing and maintaining the various community recreational facilities, and providing a social realm for theresidents to interact with one another (Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association). The association, which consists of roughly 125 dues-paying households, is governed by a board of eight to ten members, many of which were crucial in the gathering of research for this paper. This executive board has been a driving force in improving the status and wellbeing of the area.
http://www.ehydepark.org/images/designs/usf study hyde park 2009.pdf

Southern Crosstown Expressway in 1976.

The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, originally known as the Southern Crosstown Expressway now cuts off Hyde Park from the University of Tampa and downtown.  Built in stages between 1976 and 1987, the expressway was supposed to be part of a multi-expressway system that failed in the 1970s due to heavy local opposition and financial burdens.

Hyde Park Village

Hyde Park Village is an upscale open-air shopping district located in the neighborhood of Hyde Park in Tampa, Florida, United States. Owned by Madison Marquette, the center is situated in several buildings located between Swann and Rome Avenues, just a few blocks east of the SoHo district. Some of the top retailers include Anthropologie and Williams-Sonoma. However, a majority of the tenants are high-end independent boutiques. In addition to the shops, the district also features many restaurants which are among the best-reviewed in the city. In October 2009 a Cobb Theatres "CineBistro" opened in the center, combining a movie theatre with upscale dining.

Hyde Park Village in 1967.

The area where Old Hyde Park Village is today was originally called Cork Ave. Dakota Ave., Cork Ave., and Inman Ave. all intersected near where the British pay phone sits today. The only portion left of Cork Ave. today is called Snow Ave.


SoHo Tampa, short for "South Howard Avenue," is an entertainment district within the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa. Some of the main cross streets are Kennedy Boulevard (SoHo's starting point), Cleveland Street, Platt Street and Swann Avenue. The area has some of the finest examples of architecture in the city surrounding it. The sublet is within walking distance of Bayshore Boulevard where it terminates two miles later. The much praised Bern's Steak House is located in the district. Other high-end restaurants and nightlife venues are located here as well. Other offerings are high-end locally-owned clothing boutiques, art galleries, dessert cafes, and Starbucks. One of only three Publix GreenWise Markets is located in the district also. As of 2009, small companies have sprung up utilizing NEVs to shuttle clubgoers between core neighborhoods including SoHo and Channelside. Also in 2009 a small park dedicated to Bern Laxer, late founder of Bern's Steakhouse, opened at the southern part of the district. At the center of the park is the "Three Graces" sculpture and a lighted fountain that is the first in Tampa to use reclaimed water.

2011 aerial of Hyde Park.  The red lines represent of the route of former streetcar lines through the streetcar suburb.

Hyde Park is located adjacent to the University of Tampa and Downtown. Roughly, the boundaries of the neighborhood include the Hillsborough Bay to the east, Kennedy Blvd to the north, historic and picturesque Bayshore Boulevard to the east and south, and Armenia Avenue to the west. Major thoroughfares within the historical district include Kennedy Boulevard, Bayshore Boulevard, Lee Roy Selmon Expressway (Florida State Route 618), Howard Avenue, and Swann Avenue.

Article and images by Ennis Davis.  Historic images courtesy of Florida State Archives.

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2012-jun-urban-neighborhoods-tampas-hyde-park

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