Comment of the Day: Buried Landscapes of the Houston Heights

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BURIED LANDSCAPES OF THE HOUSTON HEIGHTS “Before developers established the heights and its various neighboring subdivisions, a massive filling project took placed. It was pretty much a landfill for the City of Houston. . . . Developer clear cut the existing pine forest (the oaks pretty much only existed near the bayous and tribs) and filled in the uneven landscape. A big example is in Woodland Heights. A 60-inch storm sewer line runs in an old trib to White Oak Bayou. The line is 20-ft below the current natural ground in the area. After the line was built, the natural channel was filled in and streets placed on top. The line currently goes under many people properties and houses and many don’t know it exists. . . . Outside of that, several ox bows and other trib were filled in. A couple were not though. There is one just east of TC jester where it cross White Oak Bayou south of 11th. It has water in it. There is another just west of Yale that is dry. I’ve seen historic photos showing people jumping off the banks of the the natural streams in the bayous in the Clark Pines area (14th street west of Durham). A current development is actually being build on an undeveloped piece of land that was a site of the landfill in this oxbow. The houses are being placed on piles driven deep into the ground to avoid them from sinking or collapsing. I doubt they are telling the home buyers this. Long time residents know about it though.” [kjb434, commenting on Wet and Wild: Strip Redo on White Oak]

4 Comment

  • This happened during the development of a lot of older lower-end neighborhoods. Sometimes pipes weren’t even put in the channels, they were just filled up with dirt. This resulted in a lot of differential settlement and foundation problems. The most egregious example I can think of is the Broadmoor neighborhood off of Telephone Road in the East End. Old maps show a tributary of Braes Bayou running through the area, but it must have been improperly filled in when the neighborhood was developed in the 1930s. Now nearly all the brick bungalows in the neighborhood show evidence of foundation problems; some are pretty severe. Even the sidewalks have some pretty pronounced topography.

  • I’ve noticed on current satellite maps that you can still pretty well trace where the White Oak Bayou tributary (sometimes called Gostick Gully) ran to the NNW up along the eastern boundary of the Houston Heights. It still exists in some form south of White Oak Drive – you can trace the trees surrounding it right up to the western edge of Jimmie’s. (As noted on Swamplot earlier this week, though, someone wants to turn that stretch of the gully into a 75-car parking lot.) North of White Oak Drive, you can still see on the satellite map that there aren’t old houses where the tributary used to run – there are the parking lots between Camphouse BBQ and the warehouse, then the new townhouses and some warehouse development on 6-1/2, then some green space around where Beverly would have hit 7th (but didn’t – because of the gully). Then there are mostly new constructions and yards all the way up to north of 8th. I think the NW corner lot at 8th and Beverly is still not entirely filled in. And you can feel the elevation dip in that area if you’re on a bike.
    Don’t imagine this stuff would interest anyone who doesn’t live close by but, yeah, it’s surprising how many people who do live here don’t know about it. They have probably noticed the weird flooding patterns, though. Which aren’t going to get any better if that parking lot is built.

  • Add to that the lot south of the developing hike and bike trail and east of the dead end of 5th Street that is supposed to be part of the natural drainage pattern and is still listed on the Inner Loop Condos site as soon to be developed.

    On the other hand think gondolas, like they have in Vegas.

  • kjb434, speaking of landfills – aka trash dumps. I wonder if the homeowners at The Park at Memorial Heights know that they are on top of a dump. I used to explore that area in the early 90’s and the dump had an large number of broken milk bottles. I assumed it was from the former milk bottling business on Allen Parkway.