Salisbury Street and Blair Avenue
History of Hyde Park
What is now the site of Hyde Park was originally part of a land grant to Gabriel Cerre, which was purchased by Dr. Bernard G. Farrar in 1842. Dr. Farrar, who was the first American doctor in St. Louis, invested in real estate after making his fortune in medicine and pharmaceuticals. He became a victim of the cholera epidemic in 1849 and his widow subdivided the tract in 1850.
The land, along with the family mansion, was later purchased from Mrs. Ann C. T. Farrar in 1854 for $36,250. The park grounds were leased to vegetable gardeners and thereafter as a beer garden with the revenue derived being expended for its improvement. Near the center of the park stood the Farrar mansion, which served as a bar and restaurant with hotel rooms for guests on the upper floors.
During the Civil War, political meetings and festive observances were held in this park. The meeting on July 4, 1863 ended so tragically that the leasing was discontinued and the sale of beer forever banned here. Between 9,000 and 10,000 people along with 75 to 100 convalescent soldiers from the nearby hospital at Benton Barracks (Fairgrounds Park), gathered for this Independence Day celebration and balloon ascension. The animosity of those Union soldiers towards southern sympathizers mounted as the day grew, particularly against those who wore a colored ribbon on their hats. The old mansion was badly damaged, the partially inflated balloon was torn to shreds and the bar and restaurant attacked. A request for protection was made to Colonel Almstedt's regiment, quartered just outside the western fence of the Park. A company of these soldiers fired on the milling crowd. The victims, all innocent bystanders, included two killed and six or seven wounded.
In 1870, the old Farrar mansion was razed and the park deteriorated until 1874 when improvements were begun. By 1876, a pond and fountain had been installed along with meandering walks and landscaping. It is believed that the park took its name from the famous Hyde Park in London. A fence was erected on the Bremen Avenue side of the park to keep out stray cattle from herds being driven along the street to the riverfront stockyards.
Construction of a bandstand was completed in 1896 at which time the park also contained floral display greenhouses. A fire station has occupied the corner of Hyde Park at Blair Avenue and Salisbury Street for many years. Construction of its perimeter streets reduced the area of the park from its original 14.50 acres to the present 11.84 acres.
-- Lake (1 Acre of Water)
-- Recreation Building
-- Spray Pool
-- 2 Horseshoe Pits
-- Comfort Station
-- Hyde Park Sculpture
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