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HOUSTON HEIGHTS...a diverse small town community in the heart of Houston where neighbors and businesses thrive, children learn and play, and history lives. The history of the Heights, is an interesting one.
As early as 1886, Oscar Martin Carter, a
self-made millionaire who had business interests in Nebraska and Colorado,
brought to Houston a utopian vision for the approaching twentieth type of town,
a planned community where successful entrepreneurs and working people alike
could live and work, in health and safety, as neighbors. Compared to Houston, a
city plagued by yellow fever and devastating annual floods, Carter chose the
ideal spot for his new community. Houston Heights, with an elevation 23 feet
higher than downtown Houston, a natural sandy soil, rich vegetation, mature
trees and artesian water sources, promised a sanctuary of health and well being.
By 1891, Carter attracted a corps of investors
who set up the Omaha and South Texas Land Company. He' even convinced some of
them to give not just their money, but to live their lives in his utopian city.
Carter recognized the desire of the growing middle class to move away from the
noise and dirt of the crowded city. The company purchased 1,756 acres of land,
and made over $500,000 worth of improvements, including utilities, streets and
alleys, as well as parks and schools. The blocks were carefully arranged, some
principal streets were covered with shell, and a waterworks system was
established. Scattered open spaces supplemented the 60 foot- wide esplanade on
Heights Boulevard. The trees and other natural features that now line the
streets were planted during that early period of development. Carter also built
a commercial strip at 19th and Ashland Streets and arranged for stores to open
there to serve new residents. As was common in most promotional towns, he built
a grand hotel (destroyed by fire, 1915) where prospective buyers could stay when
they inspected the area.
The founding fathers also built a series of grand Victorian homes along Heights Boulevard, a broad, tree-lined central thoroughfare patterned after Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Major industrial and commercial concerns were also attracted to Houston Heights by Carter and his associates before the turn of the century, thus completing his plan to develop a totally planned community in which to live and work.
By 1970, the perception of the Heights was that of poverty. The pattern of promotion, booming growth, uncertainty and decline that was experienced by Houston Heights is similar to what happened to most inner-city neighborhoods. More commercial and industrial interests began to creep into the area after World War 11, due to lack of zoning laws.
In 1973, residents and business owners organized the Houston Heights Association to work together toward maintaining the quality of life desired and toward preserving the historic fiber of the community. This renewed vitality has been attracting new residents, many of whom are the children of those people who moved to the suburbs long ago. In contrast to 100 years ago, the majority of these young, new residents are not moving to Houston Heights to build new homes but to restore the historic homes built by others. They are part of the national trend to buy an old house with all its charm and architectural distinction and restore it. Young professionals are also seeking the convenience of close-in living -- only a short distance from work, cultural centers and restaurants. Once again, Houston Heights is developing a firm sense of identity and camaraderie not much different from that found in the community created by O. M. Carter many years ago.
Other Places do go in Houston:
Reliant Stadium & Convention Center
Minute Maid Park
Six Flags Astroworld
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