River Oaks and Highland Park: Separated at Birth?

RIVER OAKS AND HIGHLAND PARK: SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Highland Park and River Oaks, by Cheryl Caldwell FergusonThey each contain some of their city’s most expensive homes, and gave their name to classic (well, in one instance used-to-be-classic) 1930s shopping centers. But just how comparable are Dallas’s Highland Park and Houston’s River Oaks? Cheryl Caldwell Ferguson’s new book — bearing the complicated title Highland Park and River Oaks — delves into the history of the 2 garden-style suburbs and their associated retail ventures, as well as their connections to larger city-planning efforts that flopped. [UT Press; Amazon]

11 Comment

  • I love me some h-town but Highland Park Village is vastly superior to Highland Village. The former is 1930’s architecture meets rodeo drive retail. The latter is strip mall architecture meets woodlands retail.

  • I had a set of grandparents who lived in HP and a set that lived in RO, so I grew up very familiar with both. HP and RO were designed in the Olmstead manner, with winding streets, beautiful pocket parks, and designed to make the most of the natural beauty of the topography. In reguards to walk ability and layout id give the nod hands down to HP. I loved as a kid exploring the creeks along Drexel and running thru Lakeside Park. HP also has the advantage of being incorporated, that always is a plus for an affluent neighborhood, it’s also part of a world class school district, certainly not the case in regards to RO. I always felt RO was cold, with all the tall shrubs and it seemed nobody was ever walking but the lawn crews. RO has the more impressive houses, and it has more huge lots than HP, but it lacks the warmth of HP. I prefer the houses in RO, with Plantation and Georgian, and French Chateaux dominating. I also think HP is surrounded by a prettier area than RO., Turtle Creek and University Park as well as Preston Hallow are beautiful. As beautiful and spectacular as RO is, it’s just not HP. RO and HP are both spectacular neighborhoods and anyone would love to live in either, but I always say when I die I don’t want to go to heaven, I want to go to HP.

  • Okay I’ll go ahead and start the Dallas V. Houston thing and state that while River Oaks has some spectacularly beautiful homes on some beautiful lots, as a whole Highland Park is more interesting (to me) as a community starting with the topography alone. Couple that with a wooded public greenbelt, small lake and some well landscaped pocket parks and the historical old pecan tree at the base of Armstrong Parkway, there is definitely more emphasis on common aesthetics than River Oaks. Look at the esplanade on River Oaks Boulevard–not a shrub, tree, flower, piece of ground cover etc…..it is totally anti climatic and sterile.. All of the pocket parks and even the Kirby esplanade are just trees and grass. It’s really rather disappointing. Highland Park originally had a diverse housing stock from bungalows, to small apartment buildings to stately mansions so it was not originally just an upper income community. River Oaks generally has bigger lots and a plethora of Plantation and Regency homes to HP’s English and Mediterrean’s. It really in some ways is not an equal comparison as HP is incorporated, has it’s own school district, police force and does not have to share its tax revenue with Dallas. But RO does the holiday lights in a way HP never has.

  • Highland Park strikes me as a town inside a big city. RO is more of a neighborhood. It lacks completeness.

  • Highland Park isn’t a neighborhood in Dallas. It is an independent city.

    River Oaks is a neighborhood IN the City of Houston.

    Not a fair comparison at all.

  • HP wasn’t originally a city, it incorporated later in an attempt to keep Dallas from taking it. So when the neighborhood was originally laid out it was a neighborhood just like RO. I think the two elite enclaves lend themselves well to being compared. I agree tho that if you want to argue current condition, it’s not a fair comparison because RO is reliant on Houston to keep up and maintain its parks and HP has their own crew to maintain the neighborhood in pristine condition. I’ve never understood why RO residents didn’t fund like Teas to professionally landscape and maintain those pocket parks and the esplanades down Kirby, Westheimer, and RO Blvd., they all look so plain. RO should be as pristine as HP. Yes, it’s in Houston, but Bel Air and Holmby Hills are in LA and they look fantastic and are extremely well maintained.

  • RO will NEVER fund anything it doesn’t want to because the home owners ,like most Houstonians , are cheap minded misers!!!!

  • @Shannon: RO doesn’t all winding streets except: part of Kirby Dr., most of Lazy Lane Blvd, part of Willowick Rd., Inverness ( in Tall Timbers ) & maybe Inwood, Del Monte, Chevy Chase Drives ( between Kirby & Willowick Drs.; Chilton , Looscan and Denman Rds., and the serene Tiel Way. The rest straight as an arrow.

  • Highland Park has better landscaping because it’s in Dallas and the people who live there are very concerned about what others think of them. Houstonians ( including those in River Oaks) don’t really give a rat’s ass what others think.

  • The Town of Highland Park has prettier parks, medians, etc. because it’s not in Dallas – and that’s because voters marginally rejected annexation decades ago. It might be a completely different place if it didn’t maintain a separate government, school district, etc. Public landscaping is gorgeous with seasonal plantings, fountains, and impeccable maintenance. Highland Park has lots of various sizes but, overall, the ones in River Oaks are larger with a larger percentage of grander homes. Highland Park seems more crowded but are probably the same, however.

  • What I meant to end with was demographics for each are probably the same.