COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW HOUSTON NEIGHBORHOODS CAN RISE ABOVE THE FLOODWATERS “Sawyer Heights . . . Upper Kirby . . . Washington Heights . . . I guess when you have a city with no hills they add ‘Heights’ or ‘Upper’ to the northern portions of an area. Coming soon?: Montrose north of W. Gray, will all the new construction, will be Montrose Heights, and Clinton Dr. will be Upper EaDo.” [Dana-X, commenting on Headlines: Eating Steak at CityCentre; Watching SkyHouse Rise]
I think for the Heights and Washington Heights it may have meant the upper, or upstream, parts of their respective bayous. People a hundred years ago had a bit more of an intimate relationship to geography than we do now, considering that they mostly got around on wagons and horses, and a moving stream was more than something to look at. Also, there is something of a rise in land as you enter the Heights, relative to the rest of the city.
The Heights actually does sit on a rise above White Oak Bayou, which made it prime back in the day before any types of flood control existed. It’s hard to imagine these days, but when Houston was forest along bayou edges and grassland everywhere else, and people showed up in wagons, the “Heights” area was like a little hill or knoll that was visible from anywhere else in town. You can still see this on topographic maps, and on I-45 headed south towards downtown, near North Main.
The original and official “Heights” was called so because it was 23 ft in elevation higher than downtown Houston. Significant benefit for a flood-prone city. Don’t know about the various other ‘Heights’.
Sawyer Heights is a name created by the folks that developed the Target center at I10 and Sawyer. Washington Heights is also a new name created by developers.
Mile High City
…and upper/lower (e.g. Upper Kirby, Lower Westheimer, downtown, uptown, etc) have nothing to do with elevation.
All these pseudo-Heights are really just LoHi, anyway.