COMMENT OF THE DAY: A QUICK ALLEN PARKVIEW VILLAGE RECAP FOR HOUSTON NEWCOMERS “. . . Back in the 1920s, the 4th Ward was Houston’s version of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. Racist white city officials did not want a thriving African American community right next to a rapidly growing downtown and demolished a huge section of the community to build public housing (the decisive blow to the 4th ward would be extending the freeway through the community, effectively cutting it off from downtown). APV was designed by MacKie & Kamrath and was intended to be public housing. It ended up as all white housing for veterans. Eventually, African Americans moved in as whites moved out and headed to the suburbs. In the ’70s, as the City was booming again, City officials wanted to demolish APV as it, and much of the rest of the 4th ward, was falling into disrepair. Every single move after that was just controversy on top of controversy. The City was accused of moving Vietnamese immigrants into APV to dilute the number of African Americans who opposed demolition. Then, there was a big master plan project proposed to redevelop the entire area, a court case over demolition of APV and designation of APV and the Fourth Ward on the national register of historic places. In the end, more than half was demoed and replaced with new apartments in 2000. The original MacKie & Kamrath designed buildings are architecturally and historically significant. But, like the history of the 4th ward, Houston’s transient population knows very little about the trials and tribulations behind APV. So, it is an easy target to troll for hate on preservationists.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: An Alternative Plan for the Site Next to Allen Parkway Village] Illustration: Lulu
Well, kinda sorta. The original plan was for it to be used for housing shipyard workers and support personnel serving the Port of Houston during WWI. There were even plans for a water bus service up and down Buffalo Bayou (weather permitting, I presume) to the POH. That’s one of the reasons JD Hospital was built where it was. (The big one, not the original over by the old Fire Station HQ). But the dictats of Woodrow Wilson re-segregated the military, an everything fell to shit.
God bless JJ “BlackJack” Pershing, who did everything he could to integrate the US Military. There used to be a space in there, between the k and the j. It was a disparaging comment about his thought. “I don’t care what color they are, if they can take orders and shoot straight, I want them!” (Elided)-Lover!
They gradual and inevitable decline of the APV is an all too familiar trope.
But this is Houston. And that’s a good thing. Selling off APV has improved the neighborhood. There’s a lot of Section 8 housing available there, and the COH is moving the Section 8 properties around, attempting to avoid the “instant slum” phaenonemenon.
“APV was designed by MacKie & Kamrath and was intended to be public housing. It ended up as all white housing for veterans. Eventually, African Americans moved in as whites moved out and headed to the suburbs.”
Why would people give up subsidized public housing right next to down town to move to the ‘burbs?
“So, it is an easy target to troll for hate on preservationists.”
Perhaps that’s the case. But for those of us who live in the area, the crime coming out of those projects are why many are hoping they get leveled. Maybe if a number of the local break-ins and violent crimes weren’t connected to APV, there’d be more sympathy for preservation. But seeing things like a guy come out of APV onto Dallas Street, shooting a gun into the air, and going back into the complex, tends to sour neighbors on any historical significance. If residents want support, they need to have a zero tolerance policy towards allowing that criminal element refuge.
There is a fantastic illustrated history of APV & Fourth Ward/Freedmans Town that was printed in World War III Illustrated and is available online here: http://isocracytx.net/hp-org/apvstory.html
@bocepus: White veterans moved to the suburbs because they could get zero interest VA homeloans. The Federal Housing Administration prohibited these loans from going to black folks, and prohibit developers who were getting VA loans/FHA loans from selling to black folks. This is covered in detail by this book: http://www.epi.org/publication/the-color-of-law-a-forgotten-history-of-how-our-government-segregated-america/ The author had a great interview on Fresh Air that discussed the role of the US government in housing policy that expanded racial segregation.
Thanks OldSchool, JC, and Nawfside! I love learning about Houston’s history…very interesting.