Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hyde Park Neighborhood

Hyde Park is a north St. Louis neighborhood roughly bound by Ferry Street to the north, I-70 to the east, Natural Bridge Avenue/Palm Street to the south and Glasgow Avenue to the west:
A massive migration out of Hyde Park occurred from 1990 to 2000.  The census data indicated a loss of 31% of it's residents in that decade.  They were down to 3,743 residents as of 2000:  80% black, 18% white, 1% Hispanic/Latino.  There were 1,767 housing units counted, of which 71% were occupied, split 35% owner and 65% renter.  This is an amazingly racially diverse neighborhood for the north side.  Only Baden has more racial diversity in the same time span.  It will be interesting to see if this diversity holds up in the 2010 census numbers.  For what it's worth, I did see white people walking around near the park, which is a rare sighting in most north side neighborhoods.  Updated 2010 census counts indicated a loss of 29% HP residents.  Racial shifts occured as well as more white people left.  The latest racial breakdown is 85% black, 14% white, 1% Hispanic/Latino.

The Hyde Park neighborhood takes it's name from Hyde Park in London, England; but it was settled by Germans and referred to as Bremen.  It is a Nationally Registered Historic District.  The neighborhood website is of little value and most of the links are dead.  There is also one glaring inaccuracy regarding the water towers:
This area is also the hub of several historic landmarks, including the Grand and Bissell Point Water Towers and the twin towers of the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
Yes the twin steeples of the Most Holy Trinity church are in the neighborhood, but the Grand and Bissel towers are actually in the College Hill neighborhood.  You can see the stately water stands from many parts of Hyde Park though:
There are lots and lots and lots of dilapidated and crumbling structures new and old in Hyde Park today.  But I just can't put my finger on the way these neighborhoods make me feel.  On one hand, it's clearly depressing to witness, but on the other hand, you can't help but notice the beauty and care that went into making this neighborhood an important place.  The Germans that settled here did there best at making this a European-like self-contained turn of the 19th Century masterpiece of a neighborhood.  Their diligence and good design can still be felt today, and it's awe inspiring. There's evidence of some positive efforts from those that have stuck it out over the years and maybe some new investment going into maintaining this place. Maybe enough to stabilize it for future generations to try to figure it out and fix it so it's a show place and contributor to St. Louis status as the premier American city of neighborhoods.

There are small, yet noticeable rehabs and infrastructural upgrades that make me hopeful for the future.  The bones of a the great neighborhoods are still here.  But, the breakneck pace at which these neighborhoods emptied out is staggering.  I think what I'm trying to convey is that, yes these places are depressing in their current state...and you may feel that way after looking at the pictures.  But it's invigorating as well.  This is not one of the scary (as in getting a nonsensical verbal drubbing or at worse fear of getting rolled) neighborhoods of St. Louis.  The overwhelming sentiment that I have when I see College Hill, Hyde Park, the Ville, Fountain Park and others is that we've hit rock bottom as a city.  We can only go up.  But the boarded up and falling structures are still the prominent scene on the backdrop of current day Hyde Park.  But, but, it's a worthy and important neighborhood.  A key to our history and past that simply must be saved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate and consider as a place one would DESIRE to live.

Salisbury Street is a good example of how Hyde Park may be on the rise.  There are some infrastructural upgrades right along the park including new sidewalks and street lamps.  There is even a tastefully renovated storefront that houses a handsome little restaurant/cafe called Cornerstone Cafe.
 New sidewalks and street lights:
The building right across from it, the former Salisbury Variety and Dry Goods signs are still visible:
This area, arguably one of the most scenic and stable in Hyde Park still has constant reminders that the neighborhood is in various states of disrepair.  The Nord St. Louis Turnverein is just down the street at Salisbury and 20th which once housed a gym, bowling alley, etc to serve as sort of a YMCA for the neighborhood was abandoned and boarded up until 2006:
Photo from Built St. Louis

But a fire on July 4, 2006 (guess how that happened) pretty much destroyed the building.  Of course it still sits in the same condition as it did after the fire:
As with nearly every online research project I undertake, you'll come to a careful and intelligent history of the area by Michael Allen on the Preservation Research Office website.  The turnverein is no exception, with a great summary of the history here.

At one point you can tell that Hyde Park was a fully self-sustained neighborhood with residential and store fronts standing side by side with industry.  The former Krey Meat Packing plant is a reminder of such and is quite a sight to behold in it's day.  It must have made for some pretty interesting sounds and smells for the people living around it.  It's now home to an auto salvage place (note the pile of transmissions in the next photo):
But man, what a cool old industrial complex:
There are other signs of the former meat packing industry in Hyde Park with the former Gruensfelder Meat Packing  building:
There are stories of cattle being ushered through the streets of Bremen from the Union Stock Yards on Bremen Avenue to the slaughterhouses in the neighborhood.  I've also read personal accounts of the sounds of pigs being ushered into Krey's.

There is one remaining connection to the ways of the glory days of the neighborhood:  Piekutowski's Sausage shop located at 4100 N. Florrisant Ave right at Angelica Street.  This place is worth checking out because of a delicious Polish smoked sausage called Krakow.  This stuff is dynamite and the storefront is a throw back to the neighborhood stores of old.  Here's what it looks like today:
Piekowski's had a moment in the spotlight back in 1999 when Pope John Paul II (he of Polish decent) visited St. Louis and stopped into the Hyde Park establishment for some Krakow. 

There is now a bust of the Pope behind the counter.  I believe the store keeper told me that they've been in Hyde Park for 70 years, and they were at Cass/10th before that.
There are couple other places worth noting, the Casa Blanca II right across the street from Piekutowski's and Miss Bettys Restaurant Hall and Lounge right across from the former Krey Meat Packing factory.
And what German settlement would be complete without its own brewery.  Well Hyde Park certainly lived up to the bill with the Hyde Park Brewery:
A neighborhood fixture for many years was the Hyde Park Brewery, which was founded in 1876 and was sold to the St. Louis Brewing Association in 1889. The plant at 3607 North Florissant was a major unit in the Association until prohibition. After repeal in 1933, the plant was acquired by independent operators, who sold it in 1948 to the Griesedieck-Western Brewery Company of Belleville, Illinois. That firm became a unit of the Carling Company in 1953, who produced Hyde Park beer at the North Florissant plant until 1958.  Source
 Some pundits claim that Hyde Park beer was the first to use television to advertise their product:
Modern Brewery Age magazine christened the Hyde Park brewery of St. Louis the "first brewery to sponsor a televised program anywhere." It was February 1947, and St. Louis was launching its inaugural television broadcast, consisting of a man-on-the-street interviewer talking to local residents. Hyde Park's early commercials--perhaps history's first prerecorded beer spots--featured "Albert, The Stick Man," an animated cartoon character with a knack for finding trouble. Whatever Albert's dilemma, a bottle of Hyde Park Beer always brought relief. Source
 I believe the brewery was demolished.

But there are some ghost signs that serve as reminders of the old days when this was a thriving area:
Here are some other relics from the past that caught my eye:
Can anyone tell me what this long building was?  Looks kind of like a train station:
The housing stock is/was amazing.  With the exception of one area of small shotguns that can be seen in almost every neighborhood in St. Louis:
The prevailing style are the row houses and mansions that can best be viewed in neighborhoods like Soulard, LaSalle or Benton Park.  Here are some of my favs:
One exciting development are the Irving School Apartments being developed within an old school.  They are quite handsome and there was a lot of rehab activity in this particular area of Hyde Park:
A famed flounder of St. Louis:
The flounder, sometimes called a half-flounder, is a house type which appears to be unique to St. Louis. The flounder is a narrow house, usually two or two and a half stories tall, and one or two bays wide. Entry was most often from the side elevation, which sometimes had a two-story gallery. Since these houses were exclusively working class homes, decoration was limited, confined to segmental arched windows and perhaps a corbelled cornice. Flounder houses were especially appropriate for dense neighborhoods, where space was at a premium. They were often constructed as alley buildings, sharing a lot with as many as two larger tenement buildings. Flounder houses can be found in the City's oldest neighborhoods, Old North St. Louis, Hyde Park and Soulard.Source
Many are boarded up and awaiting rehab:
Others are lost or nearly so:
Unfortunately, there are many more examples of the ones above.  The simple fact is that for every nicely cared for, occupied home, there is at least a couple board ups or fallen structures either adjacent to or within eye shot.  This is pretty much a constant throughout the neighborhood.

Much of the new housing that exists clearly won't hold up to the test of time as the originals have.  This suburban crap makes me irate and is such a quick, short sighted, unsustainable detraction from what could be a neighborhood on the rise:
The NorthSide project touches on parts of Hyde Park and here's some commentary for owner/developer Paul McKee (Thanks McKee, Legacy by McEagle, etc.):
I actually think this criticism is a little misplaced, or at least a little unfair.  This guy is just one of many bad landowners that plague this city.  You could go on Geo St. Louis, and call out all the shady land and property owners that are hanging on to buildings with no good intent.  Why not tag the entire neighborhood calling out all the chumps that have no intent to improve the neighborhood. It's not just McKee who is the problem, in fact he's probably the least of our problems.  The difference: Paul McKee is actually is floating a plan to get infrastructure and development to a part of St. Louis that no one else seems to be able to muster up.  Grand, sweeping change with millions of dollars is necessary if north city will ever make a substantial increase in population, stability and overall safety.  The community and aldermen and city for the last 40 years have not been able to send Hyde Park on a positive, upward trajectory.  We need sewers, sidewalks, street lights and every other bare minimum that those in the central and south take for granted.  McKee needs the benefit of the doubt, but a little social commentary is always called for and a sign that people in the neighborhood are actually informed and care about what's going on in their neck of the woods.  Although, I wouldn't doubt if the anti-McKee tagging that has taken place wasn't the actions of the politically aware and dismayed people not living in these or other north side neighborhoods.

All right, enough of my rant.

There are other stately buildings worth noting including the beautiful Most Holy Trinity Catholic church and school on Mallinkrodt with it's twin spires visible from I-70.  This appears to be an anchor of sorts in the community and the are immediately surrounding the church is simply beautiful:
The firehouse that sits on the edge of Hyde Park is a classic:
Other faiths constructed nice churches as well:
There are some impressive schools/SLPS admin buildings as well:
Oldest of the public schools in the Hyde Park area is the Henry Clay School, now located at 3820 North Fourteenth Street. Originally it was started in a three story brick building at the southwest corner of Bellefontaine Road (Eleventh Street) and Farrar Street in 1859. This school contained twelve rooms with a capacity of 940 students. The present Clay School, designed by William B. Ittner on a large H-shaped academic plan, was completed in 1905. The Library Service Center of the Board of Education is now on the site of the old Clay School. The Center was designed by Mariner and LaBeaume in 1909 as the Divoll Branch of the Public Library and was so used until about 1965. It was pilastered brick walls on a granite foundation with a richly developed stone trim. Source

Hyde Park is a classic example of St. Louis beauty and neglect.  If I were in charge or had any kind of say, $ or power...this would be top 5 priority for the city to turn this neighborhood around and get more people living here.  I imagine and day dream about an active and thriving community as I drive through it today.  However, I don't think I'll see that in my lifetime.

30 comments:

STLgasm said...

Awesome tour! Flounder houses may be most common in St. Louis, but they do exist in several other cities, including Alexandria, VA, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

MessengerBoy said...

Back in the mid '70s I had a job with an office equipment company while in college. I ran all over town performing preventive maintenance on IBM electric typewriters. I went to Krey and cleaned a bunch at their main offices, but then I had to go over to the plant to clean a couple there.

You're right about the sights and smell, but what I remember most is the squeal of hogs as they were prodded off the trucks into the plant for slaughter. It was a little disconcerting for someone who had never been around farms too much.

Anonymous said...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_6nko9tHYf1g/TTrv1qjGn5I/AAAAAAAAIBc/2J_5SYGA42I/s1600/PDW%252C+Hyde+077.JPG

Where was this?! Amazing!

Mark Groth said...

STLgasm: I suspected flounders weren't completely unique to STL, but that source cited does make the claim...gotta love the interwebs.

MessengerBoy: Stories like this one make it easier to understand why people wanted to get away from the cities.

Anonymous: I try not to list addresses of the buildings/homes I photograph. 1. it takes too long to docemnte and 2. I want people to see things on this site and decide to make their own trip to the neighborhoods and take a look around and start talking about their experiences...

Anonymous said...

The boarded-up, abandoned building at N. 2oth & Bremen is/was the Bremen Theater.

Remiss63 said...

What an incredible tour & history & documentation of the Hyde Park neighborhood !

Bravo !!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think that I remember reading on another site that flounder houses were technically considered unfinished and therefore subject to lower tax rates.

Marlene M. said...

Thank you so much for such a "Grand Tour". I lived in the Hyde Park area real close to the Bremen Show "The Big B" as all the kids called it. I recogized it on one of the photos in the tour. This area at one time was thriving. I remember Piketowski's sausage when it was Thiele Bakery. Can still smell all those delicious aromas when Mrs. Thiele was doing her baking magic. Also worked on 14th St. in the 50's at F. W. Woolworth. Little did I know it at the time, but those were the most fun-filled days of my life. I also went to Holy Trinity School, and Central High School. What fun days those were. Again thanks for the trip down memory lane. Loved looking at all the photos.

Justin said...

I like time and effort you took to put this together...i would to be a part of the big come back of this section of the city.Once again nice work.

Jason said...

Second time I've read this piece. I believe the long, "train station" building (next to your picture of the theater) is a newer building, and was recently remodeled with rumors of it becoming a daycare, but it hasn't been touched in months. Also, i've been told by a developer that flounders were so shaped because houses were taxed by how much streetfront they occupied. Also, if you're interested in the revival of Hyde Park, go to www.sunministries.org. We are missionaries relocating to this area.

Andrew Raimist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Raimist said...

Thanks again for this wonderful tour of the neighborhood. It's sad to see the decay, but there are also many hopeful signs of rebirth and renewal in the area.

There's presently an exhibition of photographs of Hyde Park at the Gya Community Arts Gallery at 2700 Locust. It will be up through Friday 24 February.

If you're interested in the exhibit or the accompanying book, (en)visioning Hyde Park, you can contact me through my blog or my website.

The book is available as a print-on-demand hardover or softcover through Blurb.com.

Anonymous said...

I'm much familiar with Hyde Park from the late 50's to early 60's. Thanks much for the wonderful (but sad) tour. The sausage you spoke of is "Krackauer", Karckow is a city, but likely where it originated. I once read a review given by a sausage connoseur that it's the best Krackauer outside of Poland. It is good...I've got some in my fridge as I type!

Anonymous said...

The article was great, im not sure why but im fascinated with this neighborhood. I'm from illinois and I would visit this area often trying to imagine living there. It is sparse yet not remote. It's like a Hyde away :). i would love to live across the street from the park, look out on snowy winter days and see the emptiness. Nicole

Marilyn (Olsen) Fitschen said...

What a wonderful site. I grew up on Mallinckrodt Street, shopped on Salisbury Street at the dry good store. Worked one summer at Woolworth's on 14th Street. I spent Kindergarten to 8th grade at Most Holy Trinity School, where Fr. Lubeley was pastor and Prof Kremer was our organist and music teacher. I have my picture leading the school marching band with the Hyde Park Brewery in the background and the firehouse in another picture. I left in 1960 but went back to get married a Holy Trinity 50 years ago. What fond memories. Thank you.

Mark Groth said...

^Ms. Fitschen and Marlene M. if either of you have any photos of the Woolworths or other Hyde Park buildings or street scenes, please send them to me groth_stl@hotmail.com. I will give you credit and post them on this blog. Thanks for sharing your stories.

Dakotatreasurehunter said...

Great article. It brought back a lot of memories for me. From the time I was born until I was 9 years old we lived at 3714 N 21st St. I haven't been back for years and don't know if the house is still there but I would love to tour the old neighborhood the next time I get to St. Louis. My grandpa had a Mobil station in the late 60's on Salisbury between 14th & 11th st. I would love to see what that looks like now.

Mark Baker said...

Sorry this is almost 2 years later, but it's extremely frsturating that those new construction houses are sitting in the exact condition as in your pictures. They never even finished them and the ones that were finished are already boarded up.

Janice Southard said...

thank you so much for your wonderful site and all the research. I'm a member of St. Stanislaus and come down to the old neighborhood weekly for mass and the community at the church. I thank you for documenting in photos and text the history of a once thriving neighborhood where you could walk to the corner store and buy Polish sausage and stop for a beer at the corner tavern. But times change and the suburbs with new homes and good schools were the way to go and we all went. Thank you again. Jan Southard

Anonymous said...

I grew up here, on the corner of 19th and Mallinckrodt. This was a beautiful nieghborhood until I reached approximately 12-13 yrs old(50 now). I miss the thriving place it was then.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather's family was from Germany and moved to this area in the 1870s...There, the family lived on a variety of streets....in the north and Hyde Park area...My moher, born in 23, was the last of her family. All the children were raised in the area and shared so many of their childhood stories with me and my son. We moved to Seattle in 1958...mom always talked about having outhouses and cold running water...refered to as Cold water flats..

Anonymous said...

My great grandfather settled in the Bremen area on Broadway in the 1870s. He had 12 children, all of whom continued to live with their families on a variety of streets raising their own children there as well. Mom had many, many childhood stories.of the lamplighters, the stick ball games, fetching a bucket of beer for her dad, going out to the out house, Saturday night bathes in the kitchen...kettles of hot water on the stove, playing with other large German families, Catholic Church...sleping on the roof during hot nights..on and on. The families all left for the suburbs in the early 50s...and most of their homes have been razed...Several still exist...mom shared her stories with my now 27 year old son...We live in a suburb of Settle, since 1958.

Anonymous said...

Where's the photo of Bethlehem Lutheran church?

g. moore said...

I believe I lived in the home at 3229 north 20th. in 1953-54. At the time it was a rooming house managed by my newly divorced mother. I am very interested in knowing the history of the house built in 1894 I believe. I always wondered if it was owned by someone connected to the brewery since it had a statue of I believe Falstaff on the newell post of the staircase in the entry hall. It is being lived in currently but has a vacant house next door. If someone knows anything about the house please email me horsemor627@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

You asked what the long building is in a picture above. I can't tell from the picture exactly where this is, but my Mom grew up in this neighborhood at 1923 Bremen. She and her family lived in the first house from the corner across from Hyde park. The building on the corner ( that you may be referring to) was the Bremen Theater. It was at Bremen and n. 20th. Maybe that is helpful. I took my parents back to this neighborhood on their 70th anniversary (they married at Most Holy Trinity in 1942 -they had a copy of their wedding certificate for them) in June 2012. My Mom was 90 and loved touring her old neighborhood and telling me stories. Later though, as she reflected on the day, she seemed saddened by how dilapidated it had become. Mom passed at the age of 91 in December of 2012, so Im thankful that she got to see her old neighborhood one more time. Thank you for doing these tours of St. Louis. These were beautiful thriving neighborhoods built by true artisans and would be totally lost if you weren't taking the time to at least preserve as much as you are through the pictorials and facts.

Mark Groth said...

Anonymous Aug 18, 2015 10:23 am, the Bremen theater was not the building in question. Here are some photos of the Bremen: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/4963/photos/13898

Thanks for reading-Mark

Unknown said...

When I was a child back in the early 70s,living in Mississippi,I looked forward to visiting my grandmother in St Louis.She live on 20th Street,directly across from Hyde Park,and a block over from Krey packing house.The smell from the slaughter house,lit that whole neighborhood up.

Anonymous said...

We were recently in St. Louis for a family funeral. I drove through my father's old neighborhood, Hyde Park. His home at 3719 20th Street right across from the park is still standing and in good repair. It looks like it is being used as a daycare. The houses in the back and on one side have been torn down. I remember visiting my Grandparents when they lived there, and I lived there my first year or two. My parents moved out of St. Louis when I was four years old to possibly the only city in the country that is now in more in need of urban renewal, Detroit. We moved there in 1967.

larry allen said...

My aunt owned the large three story building at 19th & bremen and went to the bremen show all the time (do you remember Durbin"s dime store at 20th & Blair) I also graduated from clay school and mrs mcarthy, mrs griffin were two teachers there I loved hyde park I think of those times fondly the people that live there now will never

gary m said...

Hey thanks for the memories. I miss that old neighborhood too, before it became the "HOOD" When I was young I had heard or read that those were called "half flounders" with the intent being to build the other half of the home as the family prospered. I never saw one where that happened and most of them look too close together for that. Hey Marlene, I think I know you