The intersection of Bagby and McGowen streets in western Midtown
|• Total||1.24 sq mi (3.2 km2)|
|• Density||6,900/sq mi (2,700/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
77002, 77004, 77006
|Area code(s)||713, 281, 346, and 832|
Midtown is a central neighborhood of Houston, located west-southwest of Downtown. Separated from Downtown by an elevated section of Interstate 45 (the Pierce Elevated), Midtown is characterized by a continuation of Downtown's square grid street plan, anchored by Main Street and the METRORail Red Line. Midtown is bordered by Neartown (Montrose) to the west, the Museum District to the south, and Interstate 69 to the east. Midtown's 325 blocks cover 1.24 square miles (3.2 km2) and contained an estimated population of nearly 8,600 in 2015.
Originally populated as a Victorian-style residential neighborhood in the 19th century, Midtown experienced an economic depression during the latter half of the 20th century, resulting in the departure of residents and businesses and a proliferation of vacant land. The formation of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority in the early 1990s and a renewed interest in Houston's urban core resulted in the gentrification of the district throughout the 2000s, fueled by an influx of young residents and the development of a vibrant nightlife. Like many other gentrified areas of Houston, Midtown’s street signs are themed, specific to the area’s logo, and there are many parks, sculptures, and businesses that include “Midtown” in their name, as a form of economic unity and to further attract more visitors and residents. Midtown has continued its rapid development through the 2010s, but the district continues to face issues of crime, inadequate infrastructure, chronic homelessness, and geographic disparities in public investment.
- 1 History
- 2 Cityscape
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Transportation
- 5 Government and infrastructure
- 6 Economy
- 7 Education
- 8 Culture, parks and recreation
- 9 Media
- 10 Gallery
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Notes
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Around 1906 what is now Midtown was divided between the Third Ward and Fourth Ward. Before the 1950s what is now Midtown was a popular residential district. Increasingly, commercial development lead homeowners to leave for neighborhoods they considered less busy. The area became a group of small apartment complexes, low-rise commercial buildings, and older houses. According to a City of Houston report, the remaining churches and the Houston Community College System Central campuses provided the neighborhood's "only stability."
In the 1970s, Midtown became home to Little Saigon, a neighborhood of Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans, who pioneered the redevelopment of Midtown Houston. During the 1980s, Travis and Milam Streets were viewed as a mirror image of 1970s era Saigon. The Vietnamese areas were established around Milam Street, Webster Street, Fannin Street, and San Jacinto Street. By 1991 this Little Saigon had Vietnamese restaurants, hair salons, car shops, and travel agencies. Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly stated in 1991 that "Little Saigon is a place to begin easing into a new country".
The City of Houston established the Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) in 1995. The establishment of the TIRZ lead to the opening of upper income townhomes and apartment complexes in western Midtown and the area along Elizabeth Baldwin Park. Between 1990 and 2000 the area within the Midtown Superneighborhood saw the population increase from 3,070 to 5,311. The increase by 2,241 people was 73% of the 1990 population. During that period about 2,200 multi-family units opened, particularly along Louisiana Street and West Gray Street. Since the total multi-family acreage remained at a small number, the population increase also increased the density of the area. During the 1990s commercial uses increased, particularly along Main Street and Louisiana Street. In 1999 the 76th Texas Legislature created the Midtown Management District.
By 2004, higher rents and street construction have reduced the number of Vietnamese American businesses, many of which have relocated to the outer Houston Chinatown in the Bellaire Boulevard corridor west of Sharpstown. On May 1 of that year, during the 6th Annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Festival, the section of Midtown along Milam Street and Travis Street near Tuam Street received the designation "Little Saigon."
In 2009 Houston City Council approved the expansion of the Midtown TIRZ by 8 acres (3.2 ha). The new territory includes the Asia House, the Buffalo Soldiers Museum and the Museum of African-American culture.
In 2014 the ranking website Niche stated that Midtown was the favorite neighborhood for millennial people.
In 2010 Denny Lee of The New York Times said that Midtown, a "mixed-use" district, was "dotted with" bánh mì restaurants. By 2012 many new bars, retail operations, and restaurants had opened in Midtown. Ed Page, a retail broker, said in 2012 that Midtown has not yet seen any significant new retail; he was referring to big box stores.
As of 2010 five flower shops are located along Fannin in a section of Midtown. One decade before 2010 there were over one dozen flower shops in that area. In 2003 the flower shop owners were mostly Asian. The shops, along four city blocks, were centered on Rosedale Street. The number declined after the establishment of the METRORail Red Line. Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle said in 2010 that the remaining flower shops told her that the establishment of the line helped cause several of their competitors to go out of business.
As of 2012 Midtown has about 8,600 people. Midtown had a 65% population increase in a ten-year period.
According to the 2000 Census, the Super Neighborhood #62 Midtown (which mostly corresponds to the boundaries of the Midtown District) contained a total of 5,311 residents. The racial makeup of the area was 45% (2,439 people) White, 18% (949 people) Black or African American, 6% (320 people) Asian, less than 1% (8 people) Native American, less than 1% (35 people) from other races, 1% (70 people) from two or more races and 28% (1,490 people) of the population were Hispanic or Latino The super neighborhood contained a total of 4,559 people above the age of 18. The super neighborhood contained a total of 3,219 people who were male and 2,092 people who were female. 18 people were in nursing homes. Nobody was in a correctional institution, a university or college dormitory, or a military quarter. There were 2,326 households, with a population of 4,142 in those households. The average household size is 1.78 people.
Some parts of the Midtown TIRZ are within Super Neighborhood #66 Binz.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas is the area transit authority. The METRORail Red Line runs directly through Midtown along Main Street. Three stops (Wheeler, Ensemble/HCC, and McGowen) are located in Midtown. Bus routes 1, 8, 25, 60, 65, and 182 stop at Wheeler Station. Routes stopping at the Downtown Transit Center, adjacent to Midtown and located in Downtown, include 11, 15, 24, 30, 35, 52, 60, 70, and 77. Other routes serving Midtown include 3, 5, 33, 42, 44, 53, 56, 82, 85, 102, 108, 131, 261, 262, 265, 269, 274, and 283.
Houston's intercity bus station (which is served by Greyhound Lines and several bus lines that serve Mexico and Central America) is located in Midtown. In 2008 the Houston Press named the Greyhound Terminal as "best place to people watch."
Government and infrastructure
The Midtown Management District is headquartered in Suite 355 at 410 Pierce Street. During previous eras the management district was headquartered in Suites 350-355 in the Bienville Building at 3401 Louisiana Street.
Houston Fire Department Station 7 is located in Midtown. The station is in Fire District 8. The station "Young America #7" first opened in 1878. Several months later the station's name changed to "Eagle #7" and the station was located on Congress Street near Main Street. In 1899 the station moved to the intersection of McIlhenny and Milam. The station moved to its current location in 1969. A renovation was scheduled for the financial year of 2009.
The City of Houston established the Midtown Tax Increment Investment Zone, which takes a portion of the ad valorem taxes generated within its boundaries to finance infrastructure and reimburse developers, in 1995. A nine-member board of directors appointed by the City of Houston, Harris County, and the Houston Independent School District (HISD) governs the Midtown TIRZ, which is also known as Reinvestment Zone Number 2.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the Houston VII District Parole Office in Midtown. Midtown is located in District 147 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008, Garnet F. Coleman represents the district. Midtown is within District 13 of the Texas Senate; as of 2008 Rodney Ellis represents that district.
The United States Government operates the La Branch Federal Building in Midtown; originally built as a Veterans Administration Building in 1946, it as of 2009 houses federal offices. The Social Security Administration previously had its own office at 3100 Smith Street.
Colleges and universities
Houston Community College System's Central Campus is located in Midtown.
Primary and secondary education
Midtown is served by Houston Independent School District (HISD). Midtown is divided between Trustee District IV, represented by Paula M. Harris as of 2008, and Trustee District VIII, represented by Diana Dávila as of 2008.
Two schools, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center (in the Fourth Ward) and MacGregor Elementary School (in the Hermann Park area), serve sections of Midtown for primary school. All pupils in Midtown who are north of U.S. Route 59 (all of the Midtown Super Neighborhood and almost all of the Midtown Management District) are zoned to Gregory-Lincoln Education Center for middle school. A small portion of the Midtown Management District south of U.S. Route 59 (which is in Super Neighborhood #66 Binz instead of Super Neighborhood #62 Midtown) is zoned to Cullen Middle School; the portion contains one multi-family residence. Beginning in 2018 Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan also serves as a boundary option for students zoned to MacGregor elementary school.
An HISD magnet secondary school, Houston Academy for International Studies, is located in the HCCS Central campus. The Young Women's College Preparatory Academy (formerly housing the Contemporary Learning Center), an alternative public school, is near Midtown. A state charter school, a charter school not affiliated with HISD, called Houston CAN! Academy Main is also located in Midtown.
History of public schools in Midtown
Charlotte Allen Elementary School opened on February 1, 1907. At the time schools were segregated by race, and Allen was reserved for white children. It was later converted into a school for black children. San Jacinto High School, located in Midtown, and Reagan High School, located in the Houston Heights, opened in 1926. Lamar High School opened in 1937. In 1956 Allen Elementary moved to northwest Houston and its former location became J. Will Jones Elementary School. Ryan Middle School opened in 1958 after Yates High School moved to a new location.
In 1962 San Jacinto High School gained a technical program. Gregory-Lincoln Education Center opened in 1966. In 1971 San Jacinto lost its neighborhood program. During the same year, Fannin Elementary School, which was located at 2900 Louisiana Street in what is now Midtown, closed. In 1976 the Contemporary Occupational Training Center, a non-traditional vocational school, opened in what is now Midtown. In 1985 San Jacinto closed for good when its technical program ended. As of 2008 the San Jacinto campus now houses the central campus for Houston Community College. The Contemporary Occupational Training Center closed in 1991.
J. Will Jones Elementary School, located in Midtown, received an unacceptable academic rating from the Texas Education Agency. Under principal Brian Flores, the school's test scores increased in a five-year period until 2009. Around 2009 the school provided bus services to several homeless shelters within the school's attendance zone. As of 2009, over 1/3rd of Jones's students were homeless. About 100 of the around 300 students were homeless, and about 30 came from a Salvation Army shelter. Flores said that this was the highest number of homeless students during his career as a principal at Jones. In 2008 99% of the students were on free or reduced lunch. Every year the school held its "Gift of Giving" ceremony.
Before the start of the 2009-2010 school year Jones was consolidated into Blackshear Elementary School, a campus in the Third Ward. During its final year of enrollment J. Will Jones had more students than Blackshear. Many J. Will Jones parents referred to Blackshear as "that prison school" and said that they will not send their children to Blackshear. Jones was scheduled to house Houston Community College classes after its closure as a school. Supporters of keeping J. Will Jones created a campaign to try to keep J. Will Jones open. The Jones campus became the campus of Houston Academy for International Studies. Blackshear and Gregory-Lincoln elementary took portions of J. Will Jones's former territory in Midtown. The portion zoned to Cullen Middle was zoned to Ryan Middle School until 2013. As part of rezoning for the 2014-2015 school year, all areas in Midtown previously under the Blackshear attendance zone were rezoned to Gregory-Lincoln K-8.
The Kinkaid School, a private school, was located in the house of Margaret Kinkaid, what is now Midtown, from its founding in 1906 to the time when the school moved to a campus in Montrose. In 1957, the school moved to the city of Piney Point Village, where it resides as of 2008. Saint Agnes Academy, a private school, was located in what is now Midtown from its founding in 1906 to 1963. The school moved to the Sharpstown neighborhood in 1963, where it resides as of 2008.
Culture, parks and recreation
Midtown Park is located at the intersection of Bagby and Gray. The Midtown Management District and several businesses provided funding for the park. Elizabeth Baldwin Park, operated by the City of Houston, is located at 1701 Elgin Street. The 4.88-acre (19,700 m2) Park is between Crawford Street and Chenevert Street. The City of Houston acquired Baldwin Park in 1905. The stone fountain is from 1912. The park received upgrades in 1930 and 1931 stemming from a bond. A 2003 Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone bond sale and Midtown Management District plans lead to further improvements. The park received a rededication on November 13, 2006. The park includes a Vietnamese Heritage Plaza which commemorates the Vietnamese settlement in Midtown. Peggy's Point Plaza Park, operated by the city, is located at 4240 Main Street.
In 2008, David Crossley from the Houston Tomorrow group proposed that the City of Houston should build a park in the area bound by Main Street and Travis Street on the north end and Tuam Street and McGowen Street on the south end. Crossley called the proposal "McGowen Green." John Nova Lomax, a journalist, published an article about the proposed park in the Houston Press.
In 2012 the Midtown Redevelopment Authority and Camden Development Inc. announced that a new park would be established in Midtown in a 3.5-acre (1.4 ha) empty lot, for about $7 million.
The Ensemble Theatre, an African-American theater company, has its studio in Midtown. The theater, founded by George Hawkins in 1976, is the largest African-American theater company in the United States.
Syd Kearney of the Houston Chronicle stated that the opening of the Farrago World Cuisine Restaurant in 2000 "was one of the signs that once sleepy Midtown was coming to life." This restaurant closed in July 2013.
Vietnamese language street signs in Midtown
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Mrs. Margaret Kinkaid was a Houston Public school teacher who later started a private school at the corner of Elgin and San Jacinto Streets. [this corner is in Midtown] Kinkaid School is presently located at Memorial Drive at Kinkaid Drive.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Midtown Houston.|
- Midtown Houston Management District
- Midtown Houston Super Neighborhood
- Super Neighborhood #62 Midtown at the official Houston web site
- Midtown Civic Club Home