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The Houston skyline, viewed from Neartown

Neartown is an area located in west-central Houston, Texas, United States and is one of the city's major cultural areas. Neartown is roughly bounded by U.S. Highway 59 to the south, Allen Parkway to the north, Bagby Street on the east, and Shepherd Drive to the west.[1] According to the Neartown Association, the area's character is often likened to the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, New York City. Neartown neighborhoods include Montrose, Courtlandt Place, Winlow Place, Hyde Park, Cherryhurst.[2] and First Montrose Commons.[3] The Neartown neighborhood at Van Buren Street was the Houston Press "Best Hidden Neighborhood" in 2002. [4]



Vintage shops along Westheimer Road—a major arterial traversing Neartown

Neartown is considered one of the eccentric and demographically diverse areas of Houston. In recent decades, the area hosts a significant community of young adults, gay men and lesbians, punk rockers, artists, as well as a vibrant thrift, vintage, and second-hand shopping area.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Neartown was known for its Bohemian flavor—this would spawn both the Westheimer Colony Art Festival in 1971 and the subsequent street fair in 1973, which would become known as the Westheimer Street Festival. Starting in the 1990s , the area has become increasingly gentrified with a trend towards remodeled and new homes, high rents, upmarket boutiques and restaurants.


Neartown has many of Houston's oldest neighborhoods. The Neartown Association began in 1963.[2]

Houston's urban real estate boom starting in the 1990s transformed Neartown and significantly increased property values. The area around the intersection of Montrose Boulevard and Westheimer Road went from being a place of abandoned buildings, sexually-oriented businesses, and low rent; to a neighborhood of yuppies and new condominium construction. Inner Loop neighborhoods are a prime market for redevelopment increasing the median home price to $230,200 in 2005.

Residential property in Neartown

A majority of townhouses were built in the Midtown area east of Neartown. Before the Westheimer Street Festival's demise in the early 2000s, some Neartown residents voiced concerns about the festival affecting their quality of life, ranging from street parking to traffic gridlock.

From the United States Census 2000 demographics, about one-quarter of the residents are homeowners. Three quarters are renters including many students from the University of Houston, Rice University, and the University of Saint Thomas, and employees working at the Texas Medical Center, Downtown Houston, and Greenway Plaza. The area is ethnically diverse, with primarily Latinos, Filipinos, and Whites living in the area.

The City of Houston's Planning Department refers to the Neartown area as a mixed-use community which serves as a model for other neighborhoods to follow. Since the 1990s gentrification, the demographics of renters have changed. Due to higher rents, musicians and artists are increasingly being replaced with yuppies and professionals (attorneys, educators, medical professionals). Other Houston neighborhoods, such as Meyerland, Westbury, and Second Ward (east of Downtown Houston) have become popular for the artistic and gay and lesbian communities as Neartown became more expensive. Twenty-three working artists resided in Neartown during 2006, according to a Houston Chronicle survey.


The River Oaks Theatre of Landmark Theatres, located in the River Oaks Shopping Center[1]

Adjacent to the community is the River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston's first shopping center, located in the Neartown community, east of River Oaks.[5] Constructed in 1927 and designed by architect Hugh Prather, the center, originally known as River Oaks Community Center, was one of the nation's first automobile-oriented retail centers. Its design, with arcs of retail space on either side of West Gray Avenue, was considered a model for future development.[1][6][7] Portions of the historic shopping center were demolished in September 2007 to redevelop the site for bookstore and a parking garage. As of 2008, Landmark Theatres operates the River Oaks Theatre, an "arthouse" theater, located in the center. The theater is the last historic movie theater in Houston that is still being used as it was originally designed.[8]


Ervan Chew Park, the site of the murder of Gabriel Granillo

According to some children in the Neartown area, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, Crazy Crew has around 100 members and is made up of mostly Hispanics. No girls are allowed in the gang. Crazy Crew is a family affair with the low income residents in the Neartown, with brothers and uncles together. The group is known for minor crimes. The "boundaries" of the gang are, as of 2006, roughly Richmond Avenue, West Alabama Street, Mandell Street, and South Shepherd Street. On June 6, 2006, Crazy Crew gained notoriety when a girl associated with Crazy Crew members, 16-year old (at the time) Ashley Paige Benton, killed a 15-year old boy named Gabriel Granillo in the Ervan Chew Park in Neartown.[9] Granillo, who associated with a group of MS-13 members, died after Benton stabbed him with a knife. The altercation began at Lamar High School. After police forced the gangs members to leave, the members drove to Ervan Chew Park through stop signs and red traffic lights.[9][10][11][12]

According to "Greñas," a member of a group calling itself "MS-13" testifying at Benton's trial, his friends did not fear Crazy Crew because his members did not believe that Crazy Crew was a "real" gang; his friends referred to Crazy Crew as "little kids from Lamar." Benton was a student at Lamar since April 17 of that year, before the stabbing [13].[14]

Government and infrastructure

Local government

Houston Police Department Neartown Storefront
Fire Station 16

The community is within the Houston Police Department's Central Patrol Division[15], headquartered at 61 Riesner.[16] The Neartown Storefront Station is located at 802 Westheimer.[16] The City of Houston purchased the building used for the storefront with federal community development funds. By September 20, 1990 the Neartown Business Alliance spent around $4,000 per year to maintain the storefront.[17] Houston Fire Department Fire Station 16 serves the area. The fire station is in Fire District 6.[18]

City Council District D covers Neartown.[19] As of 2008 Wanda Adams represents the district.[20]

County, state, and federal representation

River Oaks Station Post Office

Harris County Precinct One, as of 2008 headed by El Franco Lee, serves Neartown. The county operates the Neartown Office at 1413 Westheimer Road.[21]

A portion of Neartown is located in District 134 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008 Ellen Cohen represents the district.[22] A portion of Neartown is located in District 147 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008, Garnet F. Coleman represents the district.[23] Neartown is located in District 13 of the Texas Senate.[24] As of 2008 its representative is Rodney Ellis.

The community is located within Texas's 7th congressional district.[25] As of 2008 the representative is John Culberson. The United States Postal Service operates two post offices, the University Post Office at 1319 Richmond Avenue and the River Oaks Station Post Office at 1900 West Gray Street, in Neartown.[1][26][27] The River Oaks post office sits on a 109,159 square feet (10,141.2 m2) property with a gross building area of 18,098 square feet (1,681.4 m2). In January 2009 the USPS announced that it will put the River Oaks Post Office property up for sale.[28] In October of that year the USPS announced that it, for now, will not sell the River Oaks post office.[29]

Places of interest

KHOU-TV Studios and Offices in Neartown Houston
  • KPFT 90.1 FM, a Pacifica Radio affiliate, located at 419 Lovett Boulevard
  • Houston GLBT Community Center
  • Pride Committee of Houston.
  • The annual Houston Gay Pride Parade is usually held on the final Saturday in June (in some rare cases, around the weekend before or after June 23 to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots).
Cathedrals and Churches


The America Tower has the headquarters of Baker Hughes; the tower had Continental Airlines's headquarters from 1983 to 1998

Baker Hughes has its headquarters in the America Tower at the American General Center.[1][30]

On July 1, 1983 Continental Airlines's headquarters were located at the America Tower in the Neartown area of Houston, and would remain there until the relocation to Continental Center I in Downtown Houston, announced by the airline in 1997, that occurred in stages in 1998 and 1999.[31][32][33][34][35]

The studios of KHOU-TV are located along Allen Parkway in Neartown.[1][36]


Colleges and universities

Neartown is home to the University of Saint Thomas.

Neartown is also in close proximity to Rice University, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, Houston Community College Central, and University of Houston–Downtown.

Primary and secondary education

Public schools

Lanier Middle School serves the western half of Neartown

Pupils in Neartown are zoned to Houston Independent School District schools.[1] Neartown is divided between Trustee District IV, represented by Paula M. Harris as of 2008, Trustee District V, represented by Dianne Johnson as of 2008, and Trustee District VIII, represented by Diana Dávila as of 2008.[37]

Gregory-Lincoln Education Center (in the Fourth Ward),[38] MacGregor Elementary School[39], Poe Elementary School (in Boulevard Oaks),[40] Wharton Elementary School (in Neartown)[41], and Wilson Elementary School (in Neartown) serve separate sections of Neartown.[42]

Pupils in Neartown are divided between three separate middle school attendance boundaries. Lanier Middle School (in Neartown), Ryan Middle School (in the Third Ward), and Gregory-Lincoln Education Center serve separate sections of Neartown.[43][44][45] All Neartown area pupils are zoned to Lamar High School in Upper Kirby.[46] High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a magnet high school, is in Montrose.

Histories of schools

For a period, Montrose Elementary School was formerly in the Montrose area in Neartown.[47] Southmore Elementary School opened in 1921, Wilson in 1925, Lanier in 1926, Poe in 1928, and Wharton in 1929. Southmore was renamed MacGregor Elementary School in 1930 and Lamar opened in 1937. Ryan opened in 1958 after Yates High School moved to a new campus. Gregory-Lincoln opened in 1966, and Gregory-Lincoln's current facility opened in 2007.[2][48] Before the start of the 2009–2010 school year J. Will Jones, which formerly served a section of Neartown,[49] was consolidated into Blackshear Elementary School, a campus in the Third Ward.[50][51] 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.[52]

Gallery of public schools

Private schools

The area also houses the Annunciation Orthodox School (a K-8 private school).

The Kinkaid School was located in the Neartown area until 1957 when the school moved to Piney Point Village. [1]

Gallery of private schools
The Eleanor K. Freed Montrose Library of the Houston Public Library

Public libraries

The Eleanor K. Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library of Houston Public Library is at 4100 Montrose Boulevard.[53] The complex containing the Freed Library includes some restaurants and bars.


The Houston Chronicle is the area regional newspaper.

The River Oaks Examiner is a local newspaper distributed in the community [2].

Health services

Legacy Community Health Services [3]

Montrose Counseling Center [4]

Parks and recreation

Cherryhurst Park
Metropolitan Multi-Service Center a.k.a. the West Gray Adaptive Recreation Center

Ervan Chew Park, a fenced-in, approximately 9,000 square foot park, is located at 4502 Dunlavy Street.[54] The park (originally Herbert D. Dunlavy Park) was acquired by the City of Houston in 1945. In February 2000 the park was renamed for Ervan Chew, a Chinese-American Eagle Scout who grew up in the area and won the Silver Beaver Award, which was delivered by Ronald Reagan, in 1986; Chew died at age 42 in January 1999.[55] Chew Park has a basketball half court, small soccer (football) field, a dog park and a baseball diamond. Ervan Chew Park has little league games and dog parties.[56] The Neartown Little League, located in Neartown, holds its games at Chew Park.[56][57] Chew Park was the first park to let dogs run without leashes in a special zone. The Friends of Ervan Chew Park funded the dog zone, which was dedicated in May 2004.[54]

In 2006 the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center was moved from the Houston Department of Health and Human Services to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. It became the West Gray Adaptive Recreation Center.[58]

Notable residents



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Map of Neartown. Neartown Association. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "About the Neartown Association." Neartown Association. September 29, 2007.
  3. ^ "About First Montrose Commons." First Montrose Commons. Retrieved on February 20, 2010.
  4. ^ "Best Hidden Neighborhood (2002)." Houston Press. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  5. ^ "Fretz Construction, History and project timeline". Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  6. ^ "Houston Deco, 1930s, River Oaks Community Center, Greater Houston Preservation Alliance". Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  7. ^ "Shopping Mall History, American Studies at Eastern Connecticut State University". Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  8. ^ "Houston Deco, 1930s, River Oaks Theater, Greater Houston Preservation Alliance". Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  9. ^ a b Peralta, Eyder and Claudia Feldman. "PAIN AND AFTERMATH / The butterfly and the knife / MS-13 challenges Crazy Crew. A gang fight ensues. A boy dies. Now a girl awaits judgement." Houston Chronicle. Tuesday December 5, 2006. A1.
  10. ^ Peralta, Eyder and Claudia Feldman. "HOW THEY STRUGGLED / The butterfly and the knife / In different parts of the city, two kids look for love and a safe place. They court danger and stumble into tragedy instead." Houston Chronicle. Monday December 4, 2006. A1.
  11. ^ | The Butterfly and the Knife." Houston Chronicle. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  12. ^ Peralta, Eyder. "Gang members seem conflicted as witnesses / The Benton trial brings little insight into faux family." Houston Chronicle. Sunday June 1, 2007. B4.
  13. ^ "Fight was 'like Toys "R" Us,' gang member testifies", Houston Chronicle, June 23, 2007
  14. ^ Radcliffe, Jennifer, Robert Crowe, Dale Lezon, and Armando Villafranca. "`Sweet girl' had no prior arrests / But neighbors of teen suspected in stabbing death say she ran with a bad crowd." Houston Chronicle. Friday June 9, 2006. A1.
  15. ^ "Crime Statistics for Central Patrol Division." City of Houston. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  16. ^ a b "Volunteer Initiatives Program, Citizens Offering Police Support." City of Houston. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  17. ^ "`Storefront' police station funding debated." Houston Chronicle. Accessed April 16, 2008.
  18. ^ "Fire Stations." City of Houston. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
  19. ^ "COUNCIL DISTRICT MAPS > DISTRICT D." City of Houston. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  20. ^ "City Council." City of Houston. Retrieved on October 27, 2008.
  21. ^ "Office Locations." Harris County Precinct One. Accessed October 13, 2008.
  22. ^ "Map of Texas House District 134." Texas House of Representatives. Accessed September 28, 2008.
  23. ^ "District 147." Texas Legislature. Retrieved on November 15, 2008.
  24. ^ "Senate District 13" Map. Senate of Texas. Accessed September 28, 2008.
  25. ^ "Congressional District 7." National Atlas of the United States. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  26. ^ "Post Office Location - UNIVERSITY." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  27. ^ "Post Office Location - RIVER OAKS." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  28. ^ Reed, Michael. "For sale: River Oaks post office." River Oaks Examiner. January 8, 2009. Retrieved on October 26, 2009.
  29. ^ "Coming & going." West University Examiner. October 21, 2009. Retrieved on October 26, 2009.
  30. ^ "Contact Us - Baker Hughes Global Headquarters Offices." Baker Hughes. Retrieved on October 19, 2009.
  31. ^ "Insurer to Buy Continental Stock." Associated Press at Toledo Blade. Wednesday March 16, 1983. Page 4. Google News 3 of 52. Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  32. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985. 71." Retrieved on June 17, 2009.
  33. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 22-28, 1995. 64. Retrieved on July 25, 2009.
  34. ^ "Company History 1978 to 1990." Continental Airlines. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  35. ^ Boisseau, Charles. "Airline confirms relocation/Continental moving offices downtown." Houston Chronicle. Wednesday September 3, 1997. Business 1. Retrieved on August 23, 2009.
  36. ^ "Submit a tip to KHOU-TV." KHOU-TV. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  37. ^ "Trustee Districts Map." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  38. ^ "Gregory-Lincoln Elementary School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  39. ^ "MacGregor Elementary School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  40. ^ "Poe Elementary School Attendance Boundary." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  41. ^ "Wharton Elementary School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  42. ^ "Wilson Elementary School Attendance Boundary." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  43. ^ "Gregory-Lincoln Middle School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  44. ^ "Lanier Middle School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  45. ^ "Ryan Middle School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  46. ^ "Lamar High School Attendance Boundary," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  47. ^ The National Elementary Principal, Volume 51. National Association of Elementary School Principals, 1945. Page 326. Digitized by Google Books on October 27, 2008. Retrieved on January 1, 2010. "Montrose Elementary School, 4011 Stanford, Houston."
  48. ^ "School Histories: the Stories Behind the Names." Houston Independent School District. Accessed September 24, 2008.
  49. ^ "J. Will Jones Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Accessed September 3, 2009.
  50. ^ "Board of Education Votes on School Consolidations." Houston Independent School District. October 9, 2008.
  51. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "Tears and fears at HISD board meeting -- UPDATED." Houston Chronicle. October 9, 2008.
  52. ^ Downing, Margaret. "Backlash Upon Backlash at HISD." Houston Press. December 2, 2008. 1.
  53. ^ "Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library." Houston Public Library. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  54. ^ a b "Dog Parks." City of Houston. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  55. ^ Byars, Carlos. "City renames Dunlavy Park for former scoutmaster Ervan Chew." Houston Chronicle. Monday February 28, 2000. A19.
  56. ^ a b Glenn, Mike. "GANG ATTACK KILLS TEEN BOY IN PARK / Police say a mob of youths beat the victim before he was stabbed by a teenage girl." Houston Chronicle. Wednesday June 7, 2006. A1.
  57. ^ "Welcome." Neartown Little League. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
  58. ^ "West Gray Adaptive Recreation Center." City of Houston. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.

See also

External links

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