Believe it or not, one of Austin’s most populated urban neighborhoods actually began as a suburb. In the late 19th century, Col. Monroe M. Shipe built a house on the curve of a defunct horse track using lumber from the vacant grandstands once part of the State Fair of Texas. Then, Col. Shipe built an artificial lake and dubbed the area Shadow Lawn, a streetcar suburb.
Over a century later, the Colonel’s home still stands, as does Shadow Lawn Historic District and a number of other historic Hyde Park homes from the turn of the century. However, given the area’s location: east of Guadalupe, west of Red River , north of 38th, south of 51 st. Hyde Park properties are anything but suburban. An eclectic mix of bungalows and Texas Victorian homes account for the majority of Hyde Park real estate, mostly single family homes with some apartments and duplexes scattered about. Being just a few blocks north of the University of Texas accounts for the educated and artistic population. But while the neighborhood may be a high culture area, restaurants and coffee shops are still within walking or biking distance.
The town center at 43 rd and Duval has the biggest concentration of businesses in the area, you can do your laundry, get coffee at Quack’s, eat American at Hyde Park Grill, have Italian at Asti, or go vegetarian at Mother’s Cafe (a good place to spot celebrities). During the summer, people often make their way to Shipe Park and Pool. The Parlor, at 43 rd and Guadalupe, is a great place for a Friday night of pizza, beer, and live music. Or if you’d like to rent a movie instead, one of Austin ‘s great independent video stores, I Luv Video, on Airport Blvd is just a stone’s throw away. Thanks to colorful stores like Avenue B Grocery and Fresh Plus, grocery shopping can be done locally as well, but H-E-B is still just on the other side of Red River. And if, by chance, you’re wondering where to find a Starbucks or Blockbuster, they’re not far away, but you’re going to have to get out of Hyde Park to find most corporate businesses.
The peaceful and independent spirit of this neighborhood is as important as the famous Christmas lights of 37th street . But above all, it is marked with an undeniable sense of community, bringing together students and families on front-porches and beneath enormous shade trees, because Hyde Park is truly a product of its citizens.