Near Northsiders Don’t Want You Calling Northside Village ‘Tampico Heights’

Near Northside Residents Holding Tampico Heights Signs, Houston

A dust-up begun in the comments section of a Houstonia magazine article has blossomed into a mini-campaign to squash a recently coined neighborhood nickname. Two websites have now been created to document the curious internet history surrounding the recent appearance of the name Tampico Heights, and to demonstrate residents’ steadfast opposition to Heights name creep.

“From talking to dozens of Northsiders, it is not a name that anyone has heard used for the neighborhood,” a reader tells Swamplot. So the reader (lightheartedly signing emails as the Tampico Heights Redevelopment Authority) created a timeline site, documenting usage of the term “Tampico Heights” — in a manner that might make the founders of the OED proud — “in hopes that people who write about our neighborhood, or any neighborhood, make a practice of talking to residents, and not inventing things from google searches.”


Houstonia writer John Nova Lomax first suggested that Northside Village — which he defines as the area between I-45 and Hwy. 59 above Buffalo Bayou and south of Cavalcade — was referred to by “some locals” as Tampico Heights in the magazine’s April feature on Houston’s 25 “hottest” neighborhoods. But commenters quickly objected to both the geography and nomenclature. “Northside Village is the name of the super neighborhood council, and has a formal boundary defined by the city,” writes the Swamplot reader.

According to the timeline site, the first online reference to Tampico Heights was on Reddit in February, and appeared to refer to a neighborhood west of I-45 — and closer to the Tampico refresqueria on N. Main St. and the Tampico Seafood restaurant on Airline Dr.

Map Detailing Reddit Reference to Tampico Heights, Houston

Later, the site carefully documents, the name appeared in a Craigslist posting for a used sofa.

A second website demonstrates that the anti-Tampico-Heights forces have resorted to grass-roots photo-taking action to nip in the bud any potential support for the neighborhood nickname. On a Tumblr page, participants in a Near Northside festival are shown holding signs of their own favorite nicknames for the area.

Photos: I am Northside. Map: Tampico Heights

Battling ‘Heights’ Creep

31 Comment

  • The Height’s will become another term to sell stuff (like River Oaks is used around town). Come buy this awesome new townhouse next door to UH in “Third Ward Heights”… and down the street on McGowen you’ll find the “Heights Laundromat”.

  • First world problems

  • Tampico Heights is a better name than: “part of the Heights across from the Spanish Flower”, which is what I have always called it.
    I’m going to start calling it Tampico Heights.

  • @Frank, I believe the problem is that the Houstonia article was talking about Northside Village, on the EAST side of 45, not “part of Heights across from Spanish Flower”.

  • Frank, you would intentionally use a name that your neighbors don’t want because, why?? I am glad you stay on the west side of the freeway.

  • Is the term Dogpatch still used for Lamar Terrace? When I lived in larchmont thats what we all called poor little Lamar Terrace….before the redevelopment started.

  • You’d think Canino’s would be a more prominent landmark. Especially since there’s more than one Tampico in town and only one farmers market. Well only one FARMERS market, we have hippies selling stuff out of their cars all over town. We could rename River Oaks to be Chuy’s Heights.

  • I just tell people I live in the Dirty Heights or on the wrong side of North Main.

  • Unlike EaDo, there isn’t any real need to rebrand Northside Village to draw investment. With the new light rail, property values have skyrocketed there. And if Hardy Rail Yards ever gets properly developed, you can call it Gates of Hell, and people will still move in.

    Of course, it could be that the developers who finally do HRY are the same ones that are still building the ugly-arse single-use apartments along West Dallas, instead of proper mixed use, in which case propery values go right back down the tubes.

  • My ‘hood is so un-trendy and non-notorious it will never have a nickname, thank God.

  • ” Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen!”

  • Not that Mapquest is an authority but it shows that general tract west of 45 and north of Main as Montie Beach, whereas Northside Village is east of 45. And all this publicity will only cement that area, which has no name to almost anyone who doesn’t live there, as Tampico Heights into people’s memories. But the campaign to avoid suffering from future decades of public ridicule due to being saddled with a such whimsical name is on. Maybe they can nip the hideous trend in the bud by spending some money on a quick rebrand. Maybe take a cue from Upper Kirby and their UK style phonebooths and go with Lower Airline. Instead of phone booths, maybe some old-time propellers mounted on strategic corners.

  • Mr Block’s campaign to combat this name is bizarre. First he accused of me of giving into some realtor-based conspiracy to price out the locals through the employment of the increasingly ubiquitous “Heights” designation. I have demonstrated that there is not a single example of real estate advertising using “Tampico Heights” anywhere on the Internet.

    He also sees the use of the name as some kind of attempt to distance the neighborhood from it’s blue-collar Hispanic roots. Why he believes that the use of the name of a gritty Mexican Gulf Coast port, one that is also used by both a refresqueria and an ostioneria in the same general area, is part of a conspiracy to de-Hispanicize that section’s image I cannot begin to fathom.

    My article said “Thanks to the taquerias and shaded, walkable streets, some locals call the area “Tampico Heights.”

    Note: “some locals.” I found two examples, one on Redditt and another on Craigslist en Espanol. (Though that ad was written in English.) I thought it was cute. I never said it was the area’s official name. I presented it as a nickname, and I never even saw those two references until after Block called me out. I had seen or heard it somewhere around mid-February and added it to a map of Houston nicknames I put on Google Maps.

    Some old-timers call Denver Harbor “Podunk” and many people call Fifth Ward “the Nickel,” Acres Homes “the 44,” and Greenspoint “Gunspoint.” None of those names were created by realtors and none will ever appear on official maps.

    I believe Tampico Heights is no more or no less than a very recent continuation of that trend. Maybe it will stick and maybe it won’t but if it does I think the people there will have Mr Block to thank or blame as the case may be.

  • Good for them!! Only hope that realtors get the message, along with all the developers, copy writers and other nobodies like Frank that would seek to ruin the name of their neighborhood.

    It’s beyond me why some think that all inner loop neighborhoods want to be like the heights.

  • …And the author continues his tiresome defense of a poorly written article. I think Swamplot denizens would’ve written a much better and far more accurate article. Tampico Heights is not cute, and I hope the name dies. Furthermore, adding “Heights” onto anything is just sad. Neighborhoods have their own identities without having to compare themselves to the Heights. I would think people who actually LIVE there would have a much better idea of their neighborhood roots instead of an article that feels like it was written by Google searches.

  • This is hilarious in the way that only local neighborhood squabbles can be, like it came straight out of an episode of a sitcom or something. Personally, even though I never heard of the name before today, I will now and for the forseeable future start referring to the area bounded by west of 45, south of 610, and north of North Main as “Tampico Heights”, since there are at least two businesses named “Tampico” there, and the Canino’s market and other businesses around there feels like you’re in a corner of Mexico. Plus the name just has so much more distinction than “near northside”. And honestly, if there was any neighborhood that made sense geographically to add “heights” to it’s name, this would be it, since most of the streets are direct extensions (or in some cases, origins) of the streets that run east-west through the Heights proper.

  • There was a time when living in “the Heights” meant you were poor and scruffy, and this was either worn as a badge of shame or intense pride, depending on which way you chose to roll. And this was not that long ago.

  • For cryin’ out loud. First world problems over third world sounding names. I don’t know about the ostionerias or refresquerias, but apparently the people around there need a bakery that sells bran muffins, because it is clear a lot of people are not getting enough fiber.

  • Believe me The Heights name will never be thrown around like River Oaks—it’s an cool old neighborhood with very inflated home prices for tiny bungalow’s and faux Victorian badly done. Nobody says the Heights like River Oaks, Southampton, West U, or Memorial–get real—these people have the right to say they don’t like this silly name–sounds like Tapioca Heights–if the name has history, fine, but to just randomly name a neighborhood is kinda pathetic –but if you are going to do it call it something cool like NoDo or something referencing a historic aspect of the area.

  • It seems that the alleged ‘Tampico Heights’ is located more around N. Main/Airline – which may be Brooke Smith/Montie Beach/Sunset Heights/Stude, who knows, but is definitely not Near Northside, which is east of 45. I live in Northside and the last thing I want is for it to become anything like the Heights. I’m not alone in this feeling, which is why I think this ‘Tampico Heights’ thing hit a nerve.

  • I didn’t realize how sensitive a few people were about this. In the opinion of this “nobody”, near north side is a ridiculous name. I predict that Tampico Heights will rise and become a place to be seen! I’m going right now to the refresqueria to have an Horchata and tell everyone the new name!

  • “coconutbutter: “Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen!””
    Lol. Perfect quote for this story. And signing emails jokingly as “Tampico Heights Redevelopment Authority” is comedy gold.

  • @DanaX – ” Lower Airline” would be landing gear…
    I like it!

  • Near Northside will never do. First of all, the area is geographically closer to the Heights, second, the kids go to school in the Heights (go Reagan Bulldogs) and third, but most important, the new Town-in-City Brewing company is located in this section of the neighborhood and, as the bottle labels clearly state, this brewery is in the Houston Heights. So there you have it. Case settled. When your neighborhood brewer puts it on the label you have been defined.

    Welcome to Tampico Heights. Great produce, excellent bakeries, cool restaurants, and home of the Heights brewery.

  • People moving into the neighborhood are adding the word “heights” because they are embarrassed to admit that they live in Near Northside aka “El Northside” with “La Raza”. The beginning of the end was when someone decided it would be a smart idea to open a vegan restaurant on Fulton….

    And while we are at it, the Heights southern boundary stops at I-10. Washington Ave corridor is NOT the Heights.

    Get the hell off my lawn!!! **shakes fist**

  • Mr. Lomax needs to move on. His piece generated a lot of chatter. Wasn’t that the goal? Congrats.

  • For as long as the execrable trend of appending “Heights” to nearby neighborhoods has been going on, I’ve been referring to the Northside as the Pinche Heights. But it’s getting to the point where you can’t even rely on 45 as an effective firewall against aspiring gentrifiers anymore.

  • I like the heights idea. I am going to start referring to west u was west u heights, southside place as southside place heights and of course there needs to be a clear lake heights and sugar land heights.

    All the neighborhoods should tack on the word heights, because it just makes it sound more hip and dang it, isn’t that the most important thing. Looking and sounding cool is always better than being cool.

  • I bought a house in the neighborhood north of Cavalcade and east of Main about 35 years ago.

    My realtor described the neighborhood as being within “the Heights”, but I think the only thing it shared with any part of the Heights was its fortuitous inclusion in a Key Map zone that covered a sliver of the Heights.

    More than one of my friends and acquaintances who were familiar with the Heights referred to my neighborhood as Tortilla Flats. I didn’t consider that appellation to have been favorably bestowed upon us, and I doubt that any realtor would have used the term, but we certainly had certain elements that qualified for that title. Chief among them was a bar on Cavalcade that attracted a crowd that was so fond of gunplay that you could almost set your clocks by the noise that consistently erupted at 2:00 a.m.

  • I used to have a co-worker that lived in the southwest part of town, somewhere near Sharpstown. She called her apartment complex Tortilla Flats.

  • I live in the area by tampico and caninos market. The area is Brookesmith but i tell everyone i live in Taco Heights due to the propensity of taco trucks around that section of Airline, which i love btw!