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Vicinity Where Texas Southern University Now Stands


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I have wondered for years what were the origins of the immediate TSU area.

My question is concerning the nieghborhoods not the campus per say. Maybe someone that is knowledgable of Houston history can divulge? I have noticed when driving around there for many years that the boulevards are wide and the homes are mostly 2 story brick situated on nice steep little hills. (Hill to me because most of Houston is flat) I thought I read somewhere in a chron story or book that in the 1930's & 40's it was mosly wealthy Jewish families that were barred from living in River Oaks. Yes, they had their share of racism too. The article said that most families had maids and when the older owners passed away they just gave thier house to the maids or butlers. Just quoting so dont hate me. Peace!

Sticking to the topic, if anyone has photos or the story of that area. I never have referrred to "Wards" because that term is so misleading so please give me the name of the neighborhood instead. Any input would be most appreciated. Peace, love, kindness... friends... :)

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I assume you are talking about the Riverside Terrace and Washington Terrace neighborhoods. You are correct, in that they were originally developed for weatlthy Jewish people who were not allowed to live in River Oaks, due to the deed restrictions. Many of the homes in Riverside Terrace were designed by the same architects that were working in the development of River Oaks (i.e. John Staub, Birdsall Briscoe, Kathryn & Harry Mott, etc.). However, Riverside Terrace is also known for it's great Mid-Century Modern houses, a trend that did not catch on in the more conservative River Oaks. There are some great "Mods" on Parkwood that are worth checking out.

The demographics of the neighborhood began to shift in the early 1950s. In 1952, a wealthy cattleman named Jack Caesar purchased a house on the corner of Witchita & Hutchins (later demolished to make way for 288). Since Caesar was Black, he had his White secretary purchase the home, in order to get around the segregationist policies of the time. Caesar's family moved into the house in the middle of the night. The presense of a Black family in the White neighborhood caused a great deal of unrest (remember this is several years before the beginning of the Civil Rights Campaign). In 1953, someone bombed the porch of Jack Caesar's house in an attempt to scare the family into moving away. The family stayed, so many others decided to leave. The prestige of the area plummeted, along with the real-estate prices. Unscrupulous real-estate agents helped the process along, offering to buy the homes from fleeing families at bargain prices. Some even hired black people to knock on people's doors and ask to buy homes, strengthening the fears of the residents, and causing more White-flight. Many residents saw through these ploys and refused to buy into the false sense of fear being instilled by the real-estate people. They started a campaign to stabilize the neighborhood, posting signs in their yards that read "This is our home, it is not for sale!" A documentary with this same title was done about the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I have never had a chance to see it.

The neighborhood eventually stabilized, and remains a mixed-race area. Unfortunately, many of the grand homes along North MacGregor Way were demolished and replaced with low-income apartments. The construction of 288 also destroyed a large number of great homes. However, the neighborhood still retains a large number of good quality houses on large lots. It is a little sad, as many of the homes have suffered from neglect or inappropriate remodeling. This area is going to change a lot in the next 10 years. It is in a prime location right next to the Medical Center and Hermann Park. Downtown is not far away, and UH is planning to do some major work to its campus, bringing some retail and other amenities into the neighborhood. I have a family member who works in the real-estate business, and he tells me that there are several companies secretly buying up as much land as they can in this area. It will be an interesting area to watch...

Edited by Dan the Man
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I'm not the most knowledgable, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, Riverside Terrace and Washington Terrace were indeed originally Jewish enclaves. They were developed by and for well-to-do Jewish citizens who were barred from buying in River Oaks by deed restriction.

Where I think you're wrong is the way that those neighborhoods became majority black. As I understand it, sometime in the 50's a wealthy black man (I'm sure someone here knows the name) purchased a home in Riverside Terrace. As more blacks moved in, the Jewish residents moved out...to Meyerland/Braeswood.

Here's an old thread with a little bit of history: http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...?showtopic=1972

[Edit: Nevermind...I see that Dan is truly the Man. He beat me to it, and did a MUCH better job. Great story there, Dan.]

Edited by Original Timmy Chan's
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I have a family member who works in the real-estate business, and he tells me that there are several companies secretly buying up as much land as they can in this area. It will be an interesting area to watch...

For what purpose(s) are they buying this land and why are they doing it secretly? Sounds like it may be for a reason residents will oppose. I have heard the neighborhood is to change in the upcoming years. I have even heard one rumor that North and South MacGregor will be made into one way throughofares for their entire length through the area. That would be a traffic nightmare for us residents, but would benefit people outside of the neighborhood looking for quick access to UH and the TMC.

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I don't know if they can really be buying land secretly, but 3rd Ward probably is a great place for developers to speculate. The economy is doing well, and the neighborhood is close to downtown and ripe for redevelopment (townhomes). The reason that developers might not be advertising the fact that they are acquiring property is that there is some political pressure to maintain the neighborhood as primarily African-American. I think it's bogus, but you know how these things get.

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Thank you Dan,

Having lived nearby (across from U of H main campus) for over 36 years; a person always wonders of how their neighbors areas got started. I was hoping to spur interest and feedback from a local resident as well but maybe in the near future. Again, professional response greatly appreciated.

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Thank you Dan,

Having lived nearby (across from U of H main campus) for over 36 years; a person always wonders of how their neighbors areas got started. I was hoping to spur interest and feedback from a local resident as well but maybe in the near future. Again, professional response greatly appreciated.

Along the same lines, I was told years ago that the Broadmoor area (I think I've got that right), around Austin HS, was originally an Italian neighborhood. This would include the area around Mandola's Deli, and whatever Italian restaurant used to be in the bank on Leeland.

Any truth to that?

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I don't know if they can really be buying land secretly, but 3rd Ward probably is a great place for developers to speculate. The economy is doing well, and the neighborhood is close to downtown and ripe for redevelopment (townhomes). The reason that developers might not be advertising the fact that they are acquiring property is that there is some political pressure to maintain the neighborhood as primarily African-American. I think it's bogus, but you know how these things get.

I don't want to read too much into Subdude's comment, so this is more of an additional comment than a response. But I don't think that the preservationist movement in the Third Ward is just about keeping the neighborhood primarily African-American - different people probably have different motivations, but I think that, for many, it's about history as well. Saw a pretty good documentary on channel 8 called "Third Ward, TX" that goes into the subject a bit. (I wish they'd gone a bit more into the history of the neighborhood, and weren't quite so Michael-Mooreish in how they presented the developers, but I'd still recommend it.) It showed current residents putting up "Third Ward is my home and it's not for sale" signs. Interesting, in light of Dan's report regarding what happened in Third Ward subdivisions that (it sounds like) weren't historically black.

What Dan mentioned about the real estate agents sounds a bit strange to me, though. My guess would be that real estate agents would have an incentive to raise, not lower, property values (and so-called "white-flight" in a neighborhood in that era was not going to raise property values). I take it that the idea is that the agents could buy the houses from the fleeing residents for less than their market price - but that just sounds a bit off because it would seem that the homeowners could sell the houses for that same market price, if it were available. Unless the idea is that turnover in and of itself is beneficial to real estate agents because they get a commission - but that wasn't what I thought Dan was saying. Anyhow, I'm not disputing it, as I have no knowledge of the history of those subdivisions myself. It just sounded a little unusual to me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

we (blacks) never owned the prime areas in the wards and when values rise back the original owners decide to cash in...

look at 4th ward....it used to be a joke but blacks again never owned their land and when the values rose overnight you see what has happened

I'm not sure about 5th ward's ownership but it will be a minute before it changes drastically...a little rougher out there

Bottom line is...if blacks could've gained lot ownership no telling what would've happened..

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Along the same lines, I was told years ago that the Broadmoor area (I think I've got that right), around Austin HS, was originally an Italian neighborhood. This would include the area around Mandola's Deli, and whatever Italian restaurant used to be in the bank on Leeland.

Any truth to that?

What separates Broadmoor from Eastwood? I am so unclear on the distinction.

we (blacks) never owned the prime areas in the wards and when values rise back the original owners decide to cash in...

look at 4th ward....it used to be a joke but blacks again never owned their land and when the values rose overnight you see what has happened

I'm not sure about 5th ward's ownership but it will be a minute before it changes drastically...a little rougher out there

Bottom line is...if blacks could've gained lot ownership no telling what would've happened..

What do you mean by 'never owned their land'?

Edited by houstonmacbro
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Blacks in the wards never owned much of the property out there.....all they did was rent....4th ward was nothing but rental, shotgun houses at one time before people realized the proximity to the city. If blacks owned most of the property in the area it wouldn't have been as easy to convert the area to what it is now...

you'd be surprised alot of individuals of other persuasions own property in black neighborhoods....you notice how fast it takes to change an area....look at 3rd ward now.....

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But I also believe a lot of blacks --in a position to purchase-- overlook inner-city neighborhoods for the dream of the suburbs. Then what happens is that they get locked out (price-wise) when those same neighborhoods, now gentrified, closer to the city, and multicultural, demand prices far more than they will ever get in their sanitzed suburban dwellings. In fact, many of those suburbanites will not even get out what they put in.

Remember, real estate is location-location-location.

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What separates Broadmoor from Eastwood? I am so unclear on the distinction.

I'm not going to break our charts and stuff I only know that Eastwood is its own little neighborhood surrounded by Harrisburg/Dumble/Polk and maybe Cullen Blvd.

By the way "Ballatori's" was the Italian restuarant someone asked about earlier on Polk near Cullen. Clsoed years ago.

Broadmoor is more over south by S.F. Austin Sr High adjacent to the 45 frwy and south part of Dumble and Broadmoor thouroughfare that passes infamous Triangle Park (as we locals called it). Broadmoor is much smaller than Eastwood. Capice? :)

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I don't want to read too much into Subdude's comment, so this is more of an additional comment than a response. But I don't think that the preservationist movement in the Third Ward is just about keeping the neighborhood primarily African-American - different people probably have different motivations, but I think that, for many, it's about history as well. Saw a pretty good documentary on channel 8 called "Third Ward, TX" that goes into the subject a bit. (I wish they'd gone a bit more into the history of the neighborhood, and weren't quite so Michael-Mooreish in how they presented the developers, but I'd still recommend it.) It showed current residents putting up "Third Ward is my home and it's not for sale" signs. Interesting, in light of Dan's report regarding what happened in Third Ward subdivisions that (it sounds like) weren't historically black.

What Dan mentioned about the real estate agents sounds a bit strange to me, though. My guess would be that real estate agents would have an incentive to raise, not lower, property values (and so-called "white-flight" in a neighborhood in that era was not going to raise property values). I take it that the idea is that the agents could buy the houses from the fleeing residents for less than their market price - but that just sounds a bit off because it would seem that the homeowners could sell the houses for that same market price, if it were available. Unless the idea is that turnover in and of itself is beneficial to real estate agents because they get a commission - but that wasn't what I thought Dan was saying. Anyhow, I'm not disputing it, as I have no knowledge of the history of those subdivisions myself. It just sounded a little unusual to me.

I cannot find the article online, but I remember reading something recently in the Chron about the 3rd Ward that quoted Garnet Coleman talking about his "concern" for the residents and the effect that gentrification would have on the neighborhood and it's historical place in the black community. If I remember correctly, as a respons to this "problem" the article mentioned that there machinations afoot in Austin and City Hall to try and make it harder for existing property owners to sell, or at least sell to developers and speculators.

The article was pretty evenhanded, it presented the sides of both the developers and the historians and of residents who wanted to stay and residents who wanted to cash out.

My immediate reaction was that the politicians' opposition to gentrification seemed particularly craven - change the demographics of the neighborhood and all of a sudden Garnet Coleman doesn't have a job with perks like storing his broken Mustang for free in the Hobby Airport parking garage. I don't mean to be so entirely cynical, but it was just the whole tone he and some of the others were taking that an increase in property values and efforts to clean up and redevelop the neighborhood was somehow supposed to be a bad thing that irked me so much.

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Coleman needs to go but unfortunately he is here to stay. Just like Queen Sheila.

His priorities are too racially based and not every issue is black and white.

Another examples is that UH is looking into a medical school with Cornell here in Houston. He is on record saying "Prarie View A&M deserves a medical school before any money goes to UH".

He also worked against UH's satellite campus at HP in favor of expanded Prarie View program in Houston.

It's way too transparent.

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Blacks in the wards never owned much of the property out there.....all they did was rent....4th ward was nothing but rental, shotgun houses at one time before people realized the proximity to the city. If blacks owned most of the property in the area it wouldn't have been as easy to convert the area to what it is now...

you'd be surprised alot of individuals of other persuasions own property in black neighborhoods....you notice how fast it takes to change an area....look at 3rd ward now.....

while your comment isn't 100% true, it is surprising at how many do rent in 3rd ward. some friends ride their bikes over there quite frequently and we stumbled across an elderly black gentleman with a well manicured yard. he was out working and they commented on the yard. the elderly man started talking about the neighborhood and the changes that are happening. he told us that he didn't own but a white landlord owned the house and at least 20 others in the area. when they road a few months later, they actually got to meet the landlord who evidently treats his renters well. He said that he wouldn't sell to a developer but probably his children would. what is hurting those homeowners who just get by is the increase in property taxes due to increase in land value.

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Coleman needs to go but unfortunately he is here to stay. Just like Queen Sheila.

His priorities are too racially based and not every issue is black and white.

Another examples is that UH is looking into a medical school with Cornell here in Houston. He is on record saying "Prarie View A&M deserves a medical school before any money goes to UH".

He also worked against UH's satellite campus at HP in favor of expanded Prarie View program in Houston.

It's way too transparent.

I don't remember whether Sheila was quoted in this particular article, but to hijack a little bit, I agree that she's also entrenched and could use a little competition. Thing is, I don't think her politics are necessarily as racially based like Coleman's. She knows that her district (I share it with you, Coog) was created for her specifically and that a majority of the district - black, white, gay, generally weird, whatever - agrees with whatever she says as long as it's left of center. She hardly even campaigns anymore (I saw exactly ONE yard sign for her last Fall) and she puts on the entitled Queen act because she can and she knows that whatever geeky white-guy-in-a-tie that wins the Republican primary has no chance of beating her in the general election. Like I said, I don't think it's a race thing, though, it's a partisan thing. My wife and I are white and have a combined household income of $300,000+ and while I can't stand Sheila and her politics, my wife loves her for the same reasons I don't.

BUT, to steer this back on topic, the demographics of the district help her because it's majority black and she knows she can rely on those votes. It all adds up to her being very firmly entrenched as long as she wants to stay in Congress.

(my goodness, that was a rambling reply)

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(my goodness, that was a rambling reply)

I think it was clear and to the point. Unlike some of the multi-paged manifestos some toss in their replies. :lol:

and yes getting back to topic. I just see so much potential for this area. I say it has best views of the downtown skyline too!

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To hell with Sheila...she has her hand in TSU's demise and was buddy buddy with Priscilla Slade...notice how quiet she is now since the heat is on TSU....Jackson-Lee was the one who recommended a family friend for the women's basketball job that Cynthia Cooper wanted so badly....and we all see how that turned out...the parking garages at TSU are a disaster and are closed...

and to top it off, Sheila's kids hardly had anything to do with anything in 3rd ward, etc....I doubt they return home

I'm a PV alum and agree with Coleman....look at it like this....the bigger schools have made billions off of black athletes in athletics by underhanded deals people have turned their backs on...

the man knows if UH goes into that area they'll take a chunk of PV's base and basically drive the school's enrollment down further....fight this to the end

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UH hardly represents "the man".... in fact, UH has endured and is still enduring (not tier I??) its share of unfair treatment by the man. not only does UH get no support from austin, but evidently no one in houston considers UH to be an asset either.

secondly, i'd like to know what % of prarie view's population comes from the burbs of cy-fair.

i will, however, contend that a UH NW campus might detract from cy-fair college's enrollment, but apparently that's a non issue.

on the other hand, i don't see how Anyone could argue that more institutions of higher learning could be considered a negative overall addition to the city.

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My thing is UH is actively trying to be A&M or UT and it won't happen.....you already have UH Clear Lake, Victoria, Downtown, Sugar Land, what else is needed?

UH Downtown was probably the biggest hit to Texas Southern....PV doesn't need that hit...Cy-Fair College and North Harris have hurt the first-year freshman enrollment numbers so the big task now is to pick those freshmen back up 2 years later

A UH campus would cause a big impact....

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A&M and UT have affiliate campuses too - but they are all over the state of TX.

Now, UH Downtown takes undergrads but has no dormitory seats - it is a 100% commuter school. Clear Lake and Victoria are post-graduate facilities. Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch are satellite campuses for post-graduate classes.

What UH wants to become is a highly-residential undergraduate school. All of the satellite campuses handle graduate and post-associate degree students.

My thing is UH is actively trying to be A&M or UT and it won't happen.....you already have UH Clear Lake, Victoria, Downtown, Sugar Land, what else is needed?

UH Downtown was probably the biggest hit to Texas Southern....PV doesn't need that hit...Cy-Fair College and North Harris have hurt the first-year freshman enrollment numbers so the big task now is to pick those freshmen back up 2 years later

A UH campus would cause a big impact....

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UH Downtown's population might've split if it never opened and TSU would've hit almost 15,000...If UH goes to the Woodlands they can still have a big presence but if I'm not mistaken Sam Houston State had concerns because now, Conroe is a regular drive from Huntsville...

the NW part of town will be hard for UH to get into without a major fight or provisions...

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  • 4 weeks later...

The land near TSU south of Blodgett was originally an all white area. In the late 1950's when blacks started moving in the nick name for the area was "Sugar Hill".

The old 3 rd Ward area to the north was where most of the middle class black families lived before moving south into this area, and today it still has a very high level of ownership by blacks, but there is also a growing Hispanic population who are buying up some of the old homes and moving in. Churches in the area are building single family homes, and Land value is shooting up as new town homes are now being built on Dowling St. and even near the MLK center on Sampson St. 5 years from now this area will be a vibrant Racially and economically mixed neighborhood and the politicians who are trying to play old school race based games will be standing on the corner with a sign begging !

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You know, I think that Weingarten's plans for the River Oaks Shopping Center are best realized in the East End and/or the Third Ward - it shouldn't be difficult to find a block of non-historically-significant property in those areas and redevelop it in the faux-art-deco style - The new yuppies in the East End and Third Ward would looove a nearby B&N!

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You know, I think that Weingarten's plans for the River Oaks Shopping Center are best realized in the East End and/or the Third Ward - it shouldn't be difficult to find a block of non-historically-significant property in those areas and redevelop it in the faux-art-deco style - The new yuppies in the East End and Third Ward would looove a nearby B&N!

I think Ed Wulfe has some plans to revitalize the area, namely on Scott and OST. On OST, they've started tearing down old used car lots, stores and gas stations and putting new eateries and stores in, especially between Griggs and Tierwester. TxDOT just finished up a deep level pavement rehab and resurfacing project on OST from I-45 to S. Main, complete with new sidewalks. I think a good location for a strip center would be at the NE corner of 288 and N. MacGregor with some nice stores, perhaps a Barnes and Noble or Borders with a Cafe Express, Starbucks and a Whole Foods for example, it's not just the yuppies who want that type of stuff in 3rd ward! They could call it "Riverside Row Shopping Centre" or "The Shops at MacGregor" or some cheesy sounding name people eat up. Though, I think that site is slated for construction of a big, new hi-rise hotel in the next few years.

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I'm for redevelopment but not as pushing people out to the suburbs and causing further white flight to former famlands.....

when 3rd ward kicks you out where can you go to get affordable housing? Now, that's way out towards fomrer suburban hangouts as Spring, Greenspoint, SW Houston, East Side. All that's going is causing the former residents to get fed up with demographic changes and building further development so far away its crazy...

my only beef with building high density housing in the city is that if a bust occurrs, who fills in the luxury apartments? We went through that in the 80s on Fondren and Antoine.

You see Richmond, Rosenberg, Woodlands, Katy as legitimate cities now because poeple run

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Every other I have to skirt along TSU on my way home and I still get amazed at the style and architecture of the homes. They simply dazzle.

Even though you can more or less tell when the specific style was popular it takes you back in time. Cruise down WHEELER to TSU and notice how neat the homes sit on a little embankment and not one single one is the same! Not one.

Love it. It really is a part of Houston that is one of a kind. :)

Someone please take photos to display for all. :wub:

Edited by Vertigo58
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  • 3 months later...
Does anyone know they ripped up the railroad tracks (HBT) that used to split TSU? I know they just demolished the remnants of the bridge that crossed Brays Bayou, butt when did the tracks go? They still have RR crossing markings on the pavement ob Cleburne St.

I think JLWM might know. I know if you drive along Wheeler and cross over to Dowling, you can still see where the tracks used to go too. Not sure when (year) they stopped the train from passing through.

There were many bungalow houses for sale over by the edge of the frwy (45) and had some moving company sign on them. I wanted to buy one and move to my property before they demolished them but they are all gone now? No one ever would answer the phone when I called. What a shame those were still in good shape (at least on the outside). All were identical with a nice little porch. I wanted to raise the house and lay on pilings like the ones in Galveston and add a winding staircase. It would have been soooo cool! Its a shame. Seems like every other day something else (historical in this area) is coming down.

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Does anyone know they ripped up the railroad tracks (HBT) that used to split TSU? I know they just demolished the remnants of the bridge that crossed Brays Bayou, butt when did the tracks go? They still have RR crossing markings on the pavement ob Cleburne St.
I think JLWM might know. I know if you drive along Wheeler and cross over to Dowling, you can still see where the tracks used to go too. Not sure when (year) they stopped the train from passing through.

The tracks were ripped up on the stretch from the Gulf Fwy to Shenandoah St. in 1985 (shows how long it's been since Cleburne has been repaved :blink: ). Sections of track north of the Gulf Fwy and between Shenandoah and Dixie Dr. were ripped up in the mid 90's. So now, the track now stops just short of Dixie Dr. at the Grocers Supply facility. My family tells me the train used to come around 4AM, and the house would shake. If you were on the phone you'd have to say "hold on" because the engine noise and vibration would drown the call. I was born in 1986, so I wasn't "fortunate" enough to experience those locomotive wonders. The bridge over Brays Bayou was finally demolished in June of this year. TxDOT is going to put the new Hike and Bike trail bridge there later this year.

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The city of Houston is putting in a concrete bike way, which will travel from near N Macgregor Way and through 3rd Ward to Buffalo Bayou. The Bike way will be landscaped and will have barriers along it's route to prevent automobiles from entering

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Wow! They had that track on Houston maps until the late 1990s. I wonder how TSU students felt to have a train splitting their campus back in those times.

I don't think too many trains ran through during the day. Though in "Brewster McCloud", a train is shown going down those tracks in the daytime. Keep in mind though, these trains weren't long trains like you see going through West U, these trains were pretty short, and slow. I wouldn't have wanted to be late for class and a train shows up in my path though, no matter how short!

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Wow! They had that track on Houston maps until the late 1990s. I wonder how TSU students felt to have a train splitting their campus back in those times.

Where I went to college in Pennsylvania we had a freight line that ran through the middle of campus. It wasn't unusual to be late for class because a train got stuck. A lot of students would crawl under the stopped ones. For as drunk as they were, remarkably no one died in the two years I was there.

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Where I went to college in Pennsylvania we had a freight line that ran through the middle of campus. It wasn't unusual to be late for class because a train got stuck. A lot of students would crawl under the stopped ones. For as drunk as they were, remarkably no one died in the two years I was there.

Why didn't the university build a bridge? HISD's R. P. Harris Elementary has a bridge stretching across Interstate 10 from the Fiesta to the school.

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  • 2 months later...

It's a shame things like this happen just when the area starting to show promise. Riverside Park is of several nicely/planned/made parks in that area. Drive around one day and see how unusual this spot is.

http://www.click2houston.com/news/14605939/detail.html

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?formt...;geodiff=1#east

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They're putting a rails-to-trails trail through Riverside Terrace. Should be great.

Does anyone know they ripped up the railroad tracks (HBT) that used to split TSU? I know they just demolished the remnants of the bridge that crossed Brays Bayou, butt when did the tracks go? They still have RR crossing markings on the pavement ob Cleburne St.
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  • The title was changed to Vicinity Where Texas Southern University Now Stands

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