Hyde Park was Tampa's first Western suburb, stretching southward from the mouth of the Hillsborough River down the east side of the Interbay Peninsula. In 1886 O. H. Platt of Hyde Park, Illinois, purchased the Robert Jackson farm on the south side of the river in anticipation of a bridge across the Hillsborough River. He named this new community after his hometown of Hyde Park, Illinois.
Two years later, railroad baron Henry B. Plant constructed his Tampa Bay Hotel, and not only did the Lafayette Bridge (on what is now know as Kennedy Blvd.) become a reality, but the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival homes in close proximity made Hyde Park the ideal place to live in Tampa. Citrus growers, cattle ranchers and shipping magnates, including James Watrous, Alfred Swann and William Morrison, cleared land and built grand homes, and the neighborhood streets still bear their names. By 1910, the area was the most desirable residential community in the city.
However, Great Depression and World War II had a profound impact on Hyde Park. The building boom fizzled, and many stately homes were converted to boarding houses during the Depression. Soldiers returning home on the GI Bill made their homes in newer neighborhoods. A decline began that would last for decades. Construction of the Crosstown Expressway (now the Selmon Expressway) in the 1970s took many historic mansions with it. The Old Hyde Park Garden Club and HPPI were created at this time by forward-thinking locals who started evaluating local boundaries and organizing neighbors to protect the homes in the area.
The 1980s continued the revival that brought our beautiful neighborhood to the place it is today. Passionate local preservationists and City officials realized that something special was being lost, and in 1985, the City of Tampa designated Hyde Park as a local historic district. This meant protection for historic homes and design guidelines for new construction and renovations in the area. In addition, Hyde Park Village, our upscale shopping and dining center, opened in 1985, providing a heartbeat of community activity. New residents, and those who had lived through the down times, invested in restoring the area to its former grandeur. HPPI volunteers have remained on the forefront of this endeavor.
Today, Hyde Park, and our neighborhood of Hyde Park Preservation in particular, is a close knit, beautiful, and diverse community of families continuing to respect the history of our area while embracing its new place as part of a rapidly evolving city. As Soho, downtown Tampa, and the riverfront grow, our residential enclave is a pearl, with quiet, tree lined residential streets just a stroll or bike ride away from world class dining, entertainment, sports, the waterfront, and the bustle of all that is exciting in our city.