Hyde Park is the southernmost neighborhood of Boston, bordering the towns of Milton and Dedham. It is actually closer to the downtowns of Milton and Dedham than to downtown Boston. It is a scenic neighborhood, with the Neponset River and the 475-acre Stony Brook Reservation offering 12 miles of trails, and fishing at Turtle Pond.
One of the most affordable neighborhoods of Boston. Hyde Park is, on a price per square foot basis, one of the most affordable neighborhoods of Boston. At the beginning of February 2018, the average asking price was $292 per square foot, with only Mattapan more affordable, at an average of $241 per square foot. The neighborhood is slightly more affordable than Roslindale ($331/sq.ft.).
It is often described as a small town within the city. Indeed, Hyde Park had actually been an independent town – comprised of land from Dorchester, Milton, and Dedham – before it was annexed to Boston in 1912. Hyde Park has lower development density than neighborhoods closer to the center of Boston, and the houses have larger yards as a result.
Noise issues from trains. Today, the CSX Railroad operates a portion of the Readville Freight Yard along Prescott Street and the MBTA Commuter Rail has a passenger car facility for light maintenance and servicing just outside Wolcott Square. Amtrak's Northeast Corridor runs through Readville on trackage shared with MBTA Commuter operations and CSX freight operations.
Hyde Park contains two sub-neighborhoods south of the Neponset River, Readville and Fairmount Hill.
Readville contains many late 1800s and early 1900s industrial buildings that were once powered by the Neponset River and Mother Brook. Many of these are concentrated in the Sunnyside sub-section, around Hyde Park Avenue near Margin Street. Readville is also known for heavy truck traffic, according to the Boston Globe. The neighborhood is positioned for transit-oriented development, and the Boston Globe has reported that the neighborhood had the potential for large-scale development.
Fairmount Hill was developed from land in Milton. This section of Hyde Park is known for its Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Victorian houses.
Notable examples of Queen Anne houses can be found along Beacon Street, Mount Neponset, and Hyde Park Avenue.
Cleary Square and Logan Square evoke the feeling of a small-town center, and many small shops and restaurants can be found along Fairmount Avenue, Hyde Park Avenue, and River Street. Hyde Park Main Streets has been working for years on the improvement of the district, with considerable success.
There are three Commuter Rail stops in the neighborhood, at Fairmount, Hyde Park, and Readville.
Hyde Park is the southernmost neighborhood of Boston, with the town of Dedham to the south, town of Milton to the southeast, and the Boston neighborhoods of West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Mattapan to the north and northeast.
Hyde Park is the last independent area to be annexed by the city of Boston, in 1912.
Hyde Park began as a real estate venture in 1856, on a parcel of land assembled from pieces of Milton, Dedham, and the then-town of Dorchester.
The Readville section of Hyde Park was known as the Low Plains of Dedham as early as 1655. In 1675, it was the gathering point for some 600 Boston men during King Philip's War (1675-1676) against the Narragansett. The area was renamed in 1847 in honor of James Read, an investor in a significant woolen mill.
However, before it began to be developed, the Dorchester section of Hyde Park was known as Grew's Woods. In 1845, Henry Sturgis Grew (1808-1891) – then a retired businessman after a prominent career – was vacationing with his family in the western section of Dorchester, still largely undeveloped at the time. Charmed by the unexpectedly pleasant view of the Blue Hills, he purchased several hundred acres for an estate called Woodland (and referred to by locals as Grew's Woods). Part of that estate survives as the Stony Brook Reservation and the George Wright Golf Course.
In the 1800s, there was a notable ornithologist and hermit who lived in Grew's Woods. James Gatley (1810-1875) – described as a "second Thoreau" – was an Eton alumnus who periodically received inheritance payments through the British Consul. Despite, or perhaps because of, living in the woods, he had a significant fortune. The Boston Globe reported that he was interred in Brookdale Cemetery in Dedham, under a three-ton marker inscribed, "Hermit."
Alpheus Perley Blake (1832-1916) is considered the founder of Hyde Park. He made his fortune in railroads, and speculated in land (and the town of Blake, Florida, was named in his honor). In 1856, he organized two entities, the Fairmount Land Company and Twenty Associates, that developed Fairmount Hill on the western side of Brush Hill Road in Milton.
Hyde Park was incorporated as a town in 1868, and the local minister, Henry Lyman, suggested it be named after Hyde Park in London. The residents chose to annex to Boston in 1912. Hyde Park only existed for 44 years as an independent town, and it was the last to be annexed - after Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (1870), and Brighton and West Roxbury (both 1874).
From 1862 to 1865, Readville was home to Camp Meigs, a Civil War training camp that saw over 30,000 soldiers pass through. It is best known as the training ground for three of the first black regiments in the United States army, including the legendary 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Col. Robert Gould Shaw.
After the Civil War, Hyde Park was home to other progressive figures, including Angelina Emily Grimké (1805-1879), abolitionist and suffragist; Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895), the first black woman doctor in the United States, and William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934), who co-founded the NAACP. In addition, it was home to two significant American Impressionists, John Joseph Enneking (1841–1911) and Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
The 1950s and 60s were a period of misguided planning and racist policy in the United States. In the 1960s, Hyde Park threatened to secede from Boston over the city's plans to build a Southwest Expressway through the town, which would split the neighborhood and displace residents as it had in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.