by Michael R. Allen
Eleventh Street continues north of Branch Street for two blocks, abruptly dead-ending where it meets the embankment of I-70. I-70 hems in the street and the pocket of residential Hyde Park that remains severed from the neighborhood. The city furthered this severance by officially drawing the Hyde Park boundary at I-70, which is certainly a barrier but nothing that defines any boundary of a neighborhood that has always started at the Mississippi River.
I love these two houses on the west side of Eleventh Street north of Branch. There are many small shaped-parapet bungalows in Hyde Park, built of pressed brick with wooden front porches. Houses like these line Agnes and Destrehan streets back in official Hyde Park. These homes date to the 1920s, when they went up en masse on undeveloped sites in the south end of the neighborhood. Few of those houses enjoy as dramatic a setting as these two now do. The highway in the back yard, giant billboards on each side — the only comfort found in one of these houses is its well-kept neighbor. The brick sidewalk in front adds another reminder of the lost connection with the historic world of Hyde Park.