Online Home Searches by Commute Time; Freedmen’s Town Bricks Dispute Goes to Mediation


Photo of El Real Tex Mex, 1201 Westheimer Rd.: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool


8 Comment

  • The delays in Houston’s Safe Sidewalk Program are exactly why I recently got into it with Jay Crossley over Complete Streets. Sure, the idea is that Complete Streets will benefit everyone – eventually. It’s a laudable goal, make no mistake about that. But why are wealthy or rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods the first to get Complete Streets projects? Why not areas where the need is the greatest; where there are a lot of people who have to walk, take transit, or ride bikes because they can’t afford cars? Either way, is it right to spend a ton of money on signature projects like Caroline Street while the SSP starves?

  • @ ZAW: Jay Crossley and his father are interested primarily in patterns of NEW development because each incremental change to Houston’s urban fabric moves us in the direction of a critical mass supporting an altogether different urban form. As long as it is well-targeted, this makes some sense. Doing Caroline Street does seem like it would be worthwhile. If you had put forth the name of a more obscure street, say Delano Street, then I would be more inclined to agree with you.

  • I admittedly haven’t much (any) research on the freedman’s brick street thing, but how did the city get the water, sewer and utility lines under those streets in the first place? Do the existing water, sewer and utility stuff predate the bricks?
    I admit, it’s awesome to be able to say “I am walking on bricks that were set here by my great grandfather 100 years ago and haven’t been removed since” but really? I mean, the stuff that the city put under that street had to get there SOMEHOW.
    Preserve the bricks, put them back when the work is done, but don’t say the bricks shouldn’t be moved because they haven’t been moved before. It’s inconceivable that they haven’t already been moved to install/update city services in over 100 years?

  • The Irony ZAW about the idea of doing complete streets in a neighborhood that needs the complete streets, vs one that would find it nice to have (Gulfton NEED vs Midtown WANT) is that you’d find in a few short years that because of the nice amenities that Gulfton has, rich people will shove out all the poor people to live there. tear down the ratty 1970s sardine cube apartments and replace them with human aquarium style new apartments and townhomes.
    woohoo, the people who would benefit most (those without cars, who need public transportation, and safe alternatives) don’t see any benefit, other than some eye catching articles in Chron about the gentrification of gulfton, and a link to them on swamplot so we can all argue about it.

  • @toasty, you can look up the age of City infrastructure yourself pretty easily. Just go to and select the GIMS (public) length. Turn on the water, wastewater, and stormwater lines using the layers list in the upper right hand corner. Use the little “i” tool to query any of those lines, and it’ll pop up a box that includes a field for “baseline age”, which is when the city thinks it was constructed.
    For example, under the pavement along Andrews between Wilson and Bailey, there’s a 8″ non-plastic pipe (probably vitrified clay pipe) sanitary sewer that was built in 1960. That predates almost all trenchless utility construction technology, so I’d bet cash money that they picked up the bricks to lay it. Obviously, they put the bricks back when they were done. A block to the east, there’s a 8″ cast iron water line and a 18″ RCP storm sewer, both constructed in 1953. Seems like the bricks have been disturbed a few times already.

  • Toasty, even I find your comment cynical. I know of lots of neighborhoods in the ghetto that have sidewalks and they still sit idol year after year going begging. If Gulfton is gentrified it won’t be because of f##king sidewalks, it will be because of: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION….period.

  • Ah the old “if you fix up the neighborhood too much, then he poor people can’t afford to live there” refrain. It’s repeated over and over again, and frankly I’m sick of it, Toasty. We’ve neglected poor neighborhoods for decades in this town, and what has it gotten us? High levels of concentrated poverty; deteriorated housing stock; stubbornly high levels of crime…. It’s time to stop this nonsense, and change how we do things. Invest in poor neighborhoods so that middle class and wealthy people can move in. Use low income housing tax credits and other incentives to make sure the poor don’t have to move out. (Unless they’re criminals – then move them out to jail).
    Why should we do this? For diverse neighborhoods. To slow sprawl. For a denser, more compact city that’s easier to get around. To improve our quality of life. Basically, all the things that Crossley and all the rest say they want.