Clay Academy of Explorations and Civics is located in the historical Hyde Park community. The school has served as a staple of the community since 1905.
The area that is today Hyde Park first changed from rural to urban in character with the settling of German immigrants in the 1840s. The affordable land overlooking the Mississippi was conveniently located along old Bellefontaine Road (now Broadway), which was mostly a produce route running north from downtown. By 1850, the town of New Bremen, named after the newcomers’ town of origin, was founded. The center and namesake of the neighborhood, Hyde Park resulted from the sale of 14.5 acres to the city by the Farrar family estate in 1854. By 1856, this new thriving center of commercial and industrial activity was annexed by St. Louis.
As rail lines and industry expanded along the Mississippi River, the area quickly grew denser in population and housing stock. The openings of the Merchants and McKinley Bridges further intensified industry and commerce. The crossroads of transit and rail resulted in a diverse neighborhood of both working and middle classes.
Over time, with an old housing stock and a dwindling industrial base, Hyde Park endured the fate of many postindustrial American inner-city neighborhoods. The routing of the interstate through the neighborhood further sped disinvestment, with traffic decreasing on once highly visible commercial streets. Though some land speculation has occurred in the last 20 years, Hyde Park has yet to see widespread historic renovation, and many that have tried have left. In a neighborhood as impoverished as this one, the area’s churches and their community outreach efforts have been the lasting backbone.