Hyde Park: Austin’s First Suburb

8 11 2007

Old Hyde Park c. 1900

A historic neighborhood situated in Central Austin, Hyde Park was originally a rural, 206 acre tract of land. Purchased by Monroe Shipe for the price of $70,000 in 1891, the land quickly became Austin’s first planned suburb (Photo: Austin History Center PICA o2628).

Convinced that Hyde Park boasted the most beautiful, healthful, and practical place for homes outside of the city limits, Shipe marketed his development as an affluent suburb featuring large, Queen Anne style residences. Attractions included a large open green space and manmade lake, the city’s first moonlight tower, free mail delivery twice a day, and smooth mudless roads.

Shipe was also responsible for implementing an electric street car service that connected the first Hyde Park residents to Congress Avenue and the central business district (shown in photo above). Early investors embraced Shipe’s vision and swarmed the new community. Lots were competitively priced at $50-$100. However, Shipe couldn’t sustain his early success in selling the remaining parcels of land.

“Despite the early promotions, sluggish land sales prompted considerable changes in marketing strategies within eight years of Hyde Park’s founding. Shipe ceased to advertise the area for the city’s elite, and instead portrayed it as a neighborhood for the middle and working classes. In response, Hyde Park’s architectural character shifted to smaller, more modest frame houses.” -Texas Historical Commission

Over the course of a century, the community has not lost its profound sense of place. The neighborhood is now considered the most densely occupied area in the urban core, and is widely touted as a proven model for traditional neighborhoods. The front porch way of life is unmistakable from the avenues. 

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Contributing to the charm of the community are the walkable destinations including great, local eateries serving everything from buttermilk-dipped fries at Hyde Park Bar and Grill to vegetarian fare at Mother’s. A few other Hyde Park landmarks include Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery, Elisabet Ney Museum, Fire Station 9 and Fresh Plus Grocery.


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