Update, November 22: The finalized county precinct data has been incorporated into the map above; a layer showing voter turnout has been added as well.
With all 1,012 precincts shaded in by civic data whiz Jeff Reichman, the interactive map above of last week’s election results shows both stark splits and gray areas in blue-swung Harris County, which gave only 41.8 percent of its vote to Wrestlemania hall-of-famer and historically litigious president-electDonald Trump. The red-to-blue shading shows who won by what percentage, with results ranging from count-’em-on-one-hand margins to total blowouts for one major candidate or the other. You can click on each precinct to see the breakdown of votes and turnout (though Stein, Johnson, and McMullin voters will have to look elsewhere for the details on those candidates’ spreads).
On the east side of town, the red-blue divide runs roughly along the track of Beltway 8; the border of that central dark blue zone stretches north to include Greenspoint and then runs east along FM 1960 to 290. The split gets murkier on the west side of the Inner and Outer Loops, with many precincts showing much closer margins. More noticeably red areas inside Beltway 8 show up near Memorial,River Oaks, Bellaire, and Shepherd Park Plaza — plus spots like tiny Precinct 0830 on S. Main, where Trump took a total of 3 votes to Clinton’s 1.
Have you seen this video (at top) from the city’s planning and development department? It’s silent, several years old, and not the flashiest portrait of Houston available on YouTube. But in a compelling series of images, it shows how mightily the city’s official boundaries have grown — simply by tracking Houston’s annexation history, decade by decade.
But now there’s a more active way to appreciate Houston’s historically bulging waistline — one that could even help increase your own in the process (depending on your choice of beverages). Each of the 5 laser-cut acrylic coasters in Data Design Co.‘s limited-edition set (shown in the photo above) is etched with an outline of this ever-expanding city at some point in its history. Designers Brian Barr and Matthew Wettergreen had the sets manufactured in Houston by Post-Studio, and are now offering them for sale for $60. Buy a set, and try one beverage on each over the course of an evening of thirst-quenching, and you’ll allow yourself to drink in a progressive view of this city’s expansive growth.
HOUSTONIANS THINK HOUSTON IS 63 PERCENT URBAN, KINDA In a guest post for ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Trulia’s chief economist trots out a bunch of maps and charts that purport to show that Houston, unlike the other 5 most populous U.S. cities, is actually only 63 percent urban. But among the lower-downs on that list, Houston isn’t the big suburban metropolis standout. Phoenix and San Antonio rate half of Houston’s urbanity, and even San Diego comes in at a sprawling 49 percent. Of course, there’s the small question of how anyone determines whether a place is urban. Trulia went with the old “know it when I see it” rule, rating a Zip Code urban if its residents called it urban, suburban if they called it so, and rural otherwise. But with only 2,008 responses to their online survey, the company had to resort to other measures to fill out its maps for Houston (above) and several other cities, including figures for the density of households within a particular Zip Code. [FiveThirtyEight] Map: FiveThirtyEight
Blogger and amateur bedding-sales analyst Christopher Andrews has updated a few of his maps of mattress chain stores in the Houston area (including the one shown above) to include Mattress One (or Mattress1 One, or Mattress 1 One, as the company variously refers to itself). Altogether, that Florida-and-Texas chain, plus Mattress Firm and Mattress Pro (owned by Mattress Firm), operate 166 separate retail locations in the region.
“Now we know why we seem to have hit peak mattress along Westheimer,” declares Christopher Andrews, after producing and walking through a series of maps intended to shed light on where in the Houston area and why Mattress Firm has opened 92 separate showrooms, and is working on another 19 for the lower-priced “competitor” the same company operates, Mattress Pro. The highlights from his analysis are the 2 maps excerpted here, showing (at top) the correlation between areas with lots of apartments (dark green) and the stores (red for Mattress Firm, blue for the usually outside-the-Loop Mattress Pro); and (above) a Learning from Las Vegas-style diagram of Houston’s very own Mattress Corridor.
Houston may be the sleepy chain store’s hometown, but it’s not the only beneficiary of all that new retail padding; in the 14 weeks ending February 3rd alone, Mattress Firm opened or acquired 118 new U.S. stores.
A reader tells Swamplot that he thinks recent newscoverage of population projections from the state demographer up until the year 2050 have missed the big story: The dramatic projected growth of the over 60 population in Harris County. Between 2010 and 2050, it’s expected to more than triple, from around 500,000 at the turn of the decade to about 1.5 million in 35 years.
To illustrate, RobertinHeights sends in the chart above, showing how increases in the older age segment will dominate others in the coming decades. “By 2040 we will have an over 60 population in Harris County that is larger than the total current population of Dallas,” he writes. “Go long property by the Medical Center.”
THE FUTURE OF HOUSTON IS ON HILLCROFT NOW Armed with a few stats, Monica Rhor takes a look at Hillcroft Ave, ground zero for the Great Houston Influx: “More than 1 million immigrants — one of every four residents — call Harris County home, and the percentage holds true across 10 surrounding counties. From 2000 to 2010, Houston gained 400,000 foreign-born residents, more than any other U.S. city except New York. Last year, the county received 4,818 refugees from 40 different countries, the most of any county in Texas. The newcomers have done more than shift our demographics. They have created a metropolis where one-third of business owners are foreign-born, where the number of Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus has tripled in the last three decades, where more than 100 languages are spoken by students attending Houston public schools.” Hillcroft, of course is only the area of greatest concentration: “Immigrant communities are dispersed across Harris County — from the southwest side to The Woodlands, from Spring to Pasadena. Over the last two decades, even as the number of foreign-born residents has increased, segregation levels have decreased. Two out of every five people speak a language other than English.” [Houston Chronicle] Map: John D. Harden
Is this Houston real estate’s Wile E. Coyote off-the-cliff-but-hasn’t-realized-he’s-gonna-fall-yet moment? Or is a new era dawning, in which out-of-state investors new to this whole “Houston is booming” thing swoop in to buy up everything and save the day? A fresh serving of home-sales data from real estate agents is available this morning . . . to support either notion. This past December was a record-breaking month for home sales, the Houston Association of Realtors claims in its latest report. Total property sales were up 11 percent over last December, and the current 2.5-months supply of inventory (a comforting term to those who regularly consider a home to be an off-the-shelf item) is scored as “the lowest level of all time.” Total dollar volume of housing sales for this past month was up a whopping 18.1 percent over December of last year. Both average and median sales prices for single-family homes reached “historic highs for a December in Houston.”
Separately, using her own calculations from MLS data, buyers’ agent Judy Thompson has updated her hand-carved regular roundup of appreciation rates and market conditions for the 21 well-known (and mostly Inner Loop) neighborhoods she’s been tracking on her West U Real Estate website for the past decade. (“In some areas I have had to make value judgments about which sales might have been lot value sales that were not listed that way,” she explains.) Of note: Of the tracked neighborhoods, little old Westbury led the increase in average sales price per sq. ft., rising 22 percent in the last year; the combined average for 2014 was an 11 percent uptick.
The Chronicle’s Erin Mulvaney has thrown data from Apartment Data Services into this interactive Google map — to give you a zoomable picture of where all the new apartments are heading in Houston. The green pins show the 19,923 units (in 72 projects) that have opened recently; the red dots show the 23,781 (in 85 complexes) that are currently under construction; and the yellow dots indicate the additional 18,065 apartments (in 61 new developments) that are proposed — or at least the ones the data company is aware of.
Before delving into the communities residents have built for themselves at the St. Cloud apartment complex on Hillcroft in Gulfton, Thai Xuan Village on Broadway near Hobby Airport, and Greenspoint (each marked in orange on the map), UH architecture prof Susan Rogers tries to present the big picture of Houston’s multifamily situation — accompanied by the above heat map showing (according to HCAD land-use data) where the apartments are: “315,357 is the number of multifamily apartments housed in buildings comprised of 10 or more units. Forty percent of this housing, or just over 140,000 units, were constructed between 1960 and 1979. Today, this housing is home to more than 20 percent of Houston’s two million residents. The units are dispersed in roughly 600 separate complexes, with an average of 250 units, and typically constructed at densities of 30-40 units per acre. Not surprisingly, the new projects are located predominantly outside the Loop and many are in a downward spiral of disinvestment.”
Comedian Trent Gillaspie began his internet cartographic ventures by assembling an annotated map of his then-hometown of Denver, which he posted online hoping to highlight the humor in some of his gentrification-comedy routines with what he hoped would be considered outrageous labels for every neighborhood. “Some are judgmental, some are humorous, and all of them have a little bit of truth,” he explained to Business Insider earlier this year. “As long as you offend everyone you possibly can, it ends up making it OK.” Gillaspie then tried to open up his method to other cities — asking other comedians (and would-be comedians) to put together similar surveys of their own cities. A total of 47 labeled maps of various cities currently comprise the Judgmental Maps website, with varying levels of humor and “light racism,” as Business Insider’s Karyne Levy politely puts it.
The latest effort, submitted to Gillaspie’s website and tagged by its author, identified only as jr.ewing.78, targets Houston. We’ve sliced the map into thirds, for easier reading, below:
A DIRE WARNING FOR HOUSTON, 1965: IN CASE OF NUCLEAR ATTACK, PROPERTY VALUES MAY RISE Nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein, creator of the online Nukemap nuclear-blast simulator, finds the following charming nugget in a September 1965 report issued by the nonprofit Institute for Defense Analyses, which wad been hired by the U.S. Army’s Office of Civil Defense to calculate the effects of the use of a nuclear weapon on an American city — using Houston as an example: “For single surface bursts of 3- and 10-Mt, about 64 percent and 46 percent of the property values survive, while only 32 and 18 percent of the unsheltered population survives. In a macabre sense, the surviving population would be individually ‘wealthier’ than before the attack. For a single 10-Mt weapon, surviving property value per capita nearly doubles from a preattack value of about $9,000 to slightly more than $16,000 and, as the weight of the attack increases, the greater the per capita gain in ‘wealth’ of the survivors. For a 100-Mt surface burst, the surviving population is nearly four times wealthier than pre-attack ($34,000). However, any joy among the surviving population may be quite shortlived; none of these gross estimates of the effects of nuclear attack indicate whether or not the immediate metropolitan area is viable, either by itself or with the assistance of the rest of the country.” [Lawyers, Guns, and Money; report (PDF)] Simulated image of 10-megaton mushroom cloud over Houston: Nukemap 3D