The Houston Heights was founded in 1891 by real estate speculators Oscar Martin Carter and Daniel Denton Cooley. At first, it was developed as its own city set apart from Houston with business district, light industry, railcar link to the bigger city and a variety of mostly mail-order bungalow and Victorian homes, becoming in a sense the first master-planned community in Greater Houston.
Just to the east of the Houston Heights, the Proctor Plaza/Norhill and Woodland Heights neighborhoods were developed in the 1910s by the Hogg family and developer William O. Wilson, respectively, from plots purchased from the Stude family, selling off its dairy farm that previously had covered much of the area. Round the same time, the Sunset Heights was developed just to the north.
The biggest changes to the Heights in the last 10 years has been the bike paths and the preponderance of top-quality restaurants. Heights Boulevard was lined with bike trails, reducing traffic to a single lane, in 2000. The Nicholson SP and MKT rails to trails project was completed in 2009, turning 4.62 miles of former rail beds into committed and paved bike lanes that connect the Heights directly to downtown. Restaurants such as Down House, Shade, Glass Wall, Da Capo’s Bakery, Revival Market and many others have made the neighborhood a destination for foodies.
Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the Greater Heights area is the historic housing stock. In a city where historic preservation is a constant struggle, in the Greater Heights it’s almost a way of life. There are more areas marked as historic districts in the Greater Heights than in the rest of the city combined, not to mention numerous other blocks protected by residents utilizing the prevailing setback and minimum lot size provisions in city ordinance. A drive, bike ride and/or walk through the Heights brings views of historic homes with rear garages, alleys and generous front porches. The majority of bungalow and Victorian-style homes are more than a century old, making the Heights a kind of time capsule of Houston.
Nearby communities include Montrose, downtown and Midtown inside Loop 610.
The entire Greater Heights area is in Houston ISD. John H. Reagan High School is the only area high school. Middle schools are Alexander Hamilton Middle School and Hogg Middle School. Elementary schools are Harvard Elementary (founded in 1898, the oldest continuously open school in Houston), Travis Elementary (founded in 1908), Helms Elementary, William H. Love Elementary, Eugene Field Elementary and Browning Elementary.
Houston Independent School District
279 schools, including six early childhood centers, 160 elementary, 41 middle, 44 high and 28 other
District state rating: academically acceptable (2011)
Campus rating notes: Forty-six elementary schools, two middle schools and 11 high schools were rated exemplary. Nineteen campuses were rated unacceptable. Area high school ratings include Davis High School, acceptable; High School for Visual and Performing Arts, exemplary; Lamar, recognized; and Reagan, acceptable.
University of Houston-Downtown, 1 Main St., 713-221-8000, www.uhd.edu
One of a kind
The name is due to its relative height of 6 feet over downtown, a selling point at a time when Houston was gripped by several yellow fever epidemics due to lack of sanitation around low-lying areas surrounding Buffalo Bayou. Due to the costs of running a city, particularly its nascent school system, the city of Houston Heights sought annexation by the city of Houston, a process that finally was accomplished in 1918.
The list of famous Houstonians from the Heights is a long one. The co-founder, Daniel Denton Cooley, is the grandfather of renowned heart surgeon Denton A. Cooley. Also from the Heights are oilwell firefighter Red Adair, Indianapolis 500 champion A.J. Foyt and newsman Dan Rather, all graduates of John H. Reagan High School. When she was Houston mayor, Kathy Whitmire was a resident of the Woodland Heights, still the only Houston mayor to live in the Greater Heights.