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Why Is The Heights So Popular?


august948

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I keep hearing people talk about the Heights so I finally got around to driving through last weekend. For reference, we drove up Heights Blvd from I-10 to 20th, took 20th to Rutland, went north on Rutland almost to 610, cut over to Yale and drove Yale all the way back to I10. I saw some nicely restored homes, but also many run down places and small apt complexes. There were a couple of coffee shops, a couple of antique stores and a few bars but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for other neighborhoods of similar age and location. We stopped at the Kroger on 20th and it was fairly shabby.

I don't intend this to be a put down of the Heights, but we didn't see anything particularly special about the area. Can someone enlighten me? Did we drive down the wrong streets? Why does the Heights seem to be so popular vs other inner loop neighborhoods?

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Don't worry, I haven't figured it out either...I actually spent most of my high school years in the heights area and I'm still baffled as to what's so cool about it.

I think it's become the cool "little old charm" area of houston that doesn't serve alcohol. Anything else??

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Why is this thread under "Weather"? Can we move it?

The Heights is conveniently located to several major employment centers, as well as other popular areas inside the loop that contain many options for food, shopping, and entertainment. The neighborhood also has historic buildings, as well as many eclectic residents and businesses that give the area a unique feel. It's also "trendy" to live there, meaning more people will want to live in the Heights regardless of whether they appreciate the things that make the neighborhood what it is.

Though most people probably disagree, I actually find the East End to be a more interesting area than the Heights.

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Don't worry, I haven't figured it out either...I actually spent most of my high school years in the heights area and I'm still baffled as to what's so cool about it.

I think it's become the cool "little old charm" area of houston that doesn't serve alcohol. Anything else??

Actually, Ive always thought the two run together. The fact that a large part of the Heights is dry has helped preserve its charm. Maybe, some residents in OSW or Rice Mil. want to weigh in on that one.

The Heights is conveniently located to several major employment centers, as well as other popular areas inside the loop that contain many options for food, shopping, and entertainment. The neighborhood also has historic buildings, as well as many eclectic residents and businesses that give the area a unique feel. It's also "trendy" to live there, meaning more people will want to live in the Heights regardless of whether they appreciate the things that make the neighborhood what it is.

I think Dan has touched on something. I think the Heights is different things for different people. For me:

  • The conveniences Dan mentioned
  • The small town feel - the front porch homes, the trees, the birds, the multitude of cats
  • Our neighbors - blue collar, white collar, business owners, professional, retired. A nice mix. All good folks.
  • Our house. It was smaller than what we had in mind. However, it had all the light and grace we sought.

If you're imagining (and all about) a transplanted subdiv with perfect curbs and a screachy HOA that bitches about moss on the side of your house, you'll not get the Heights. It's different (as is Eastwood, as are many sections of Montrose) from a lot of Houston. A little shabby, yes. However, a very comfortable place to live.

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If you're imagining (and all about) a transplanted subdiv with perfect curbs and a screachy HOA that bitches about moss on the side of your house, you'll not get the Heights. It's different (as is Eastwood, as are many sections of Montrose) from a lot of Houston. A little shabby, yes. However, a very comfortable place to live.

That's how I view the Heights. The homes are older and sometimes shabby, odd, and close together, but therein lies the charm. Some folks don't want to live in a master planned charmless community where every third house looks identical, and the Heights has the added advantage of being really close into town.

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Beyond the proximity to downtown (and everything west of downtown) and the architecture - I don't see the appeal either. And no, I'm not trying to compare it to any other neighborhood - I just don't see the appeal period.

Its nice though. I'm not knocking it, I just don't get it.

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I don't particularly care if others like it. In fact, it has gotten a bit too popular, drawing in those who must have all the current trendy things. Oh well, at least a few of you are staying away.

Oh, and the alcohol thing? I got booze less than 1500 feet from my front door. I can walk to 2 liquor stores, half a dozen bars and half a dozen wet restaurants. If you think the Heights is about being dry, you REALLY don't know the Heights.

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I don't particularly care if others like it. In fact, it has gotten a bit too popular, drawing in those who must have all the current trendy things. Oh well, at least a few of you are staying away.

Oh, and the alcohol thing? I got booze less than 1500 feet from my front door. I can walk to 2 liquor stores, half a dozen bars and half a dozen wet restaurants. If you think the Heights is about being dry, you REALLY don't know the Heights.

agreed. i kind of feel like if you don't get it/don't like it, then don't worry about it. go where you get a good feeling. i get one here.

agreed. i can walk to the shiloh. that makes my walk better than yours, red!

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The Heights is cool because we give free beer away some days. You just came on the wrong day.

Dude! You're not supposed to mention the free beer and wine.

I don't particularly care if others like it. In fact, it has gotten a bit too popular, drawing in those who must have all the current trendy things. Oh well, at least a few of you are staying away.

Oh yeah, front porch homes, the trees, the birds, the multitude of cats and grumpy, liberal, dog lovers.

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I don't particularly care if others like it. In fact, it has gotten a bit too popular, drawing in those who must have all the current trendy things. Oh well, at least a few of you are staying away.

Oh, and the alcohol thing? I got booze less than 1500 feet from my front door. I can walk to 2 liquor stores, half a dozen bars and half a dozen wet restaurants. If you think the Heights is about being dry, you REALLY don't know the Heights.

Since The Old Heights is still dry, Greater Heights Area convenience stores tend to have better than average selections of wine & beer. And our coffee houses often have beer & wine, too.

Wait, what am I saying? Yes, the Heights sucks. People should stay away! Build their mini-mansions elsewhere!

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agreed. i can walk to the shiloh. that makes my walk better than yours, red!

Agreed! Although the walk home is often in a zig zag...

Sometimes I get home and friday and dont' have to drive until Monday morning because I live within walking/biking distance of everything I need. There are very few walkable neighborhoods in the entire city where you can be totally car independant.

Edited by Tricky Matt
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I keep hearing people talk about the Heights so I finally got around to driving through last weekend. For reference, we drove up Heights Blvd from I-10 to 20th, took 20th to Rutland, went north on Rutland almost to 610, cut over to Yale and drove Yale all the way back to I10. I saw some nicely restored homes, but also many run down places and small apt complexes. There were a couple of coffee shops, a couple of antique stores and a few bars but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for other neighborhoods of similar age and location. We stopped at the Kroger on 20th and it was fairly shabby.

I don't intend this to be a put down of the Heights, but we didn't see anything particularly special about the area. Can someone enlighten me? Did we drive down the wrong streets? Why does the Heights seem to be so popular vs other inner loop neighborhoods?

First, you shouldn't have driven down Yale...the ugliest street in the Heights.

The Heights is Houston's oldest planned community (circa 1890). Most of the homes were built in the 20's and 30's. The Heights was much better before all the McMansions popped up. :(

I actually prefer the small bungalos east of Studewood.

Edited by Rammer
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I keep hearing people talk about the Heights so I finally got around to driving through last weekend. For reference, we drove up Heights Blvd from I-10 to 20th, took 20th to Rutland, went north on Rutland almost to 610, cut over to Yale and drove Yale all the way back to I10. I saw some nicely restored homes, but also many run down places and small apt complexes. There were a couple of coffee shops, a couple of antique stores and a few bars but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for other neighborhoods of similar age and location. We stopped at the Kroger on 20th and it was fairly shabby.

I don't intend this to be a put down of the Heights, but we didn't see anything particularly special about the area. Can someone enlighten me? Did we drive down the wrong streets? Why does the Heights seem to be so popular vs other inner loop neighborhoods?

Physically speaking, you're correct that there's nothing especially unique about the Heights. It's just that there's a relatively small number of people that are urban pioneers (typically young, hip, low-budget), and they tend to flock together to specific well-located and inexpensive neighborhoods until those neighborhoods are considered by outsiders to be gentrified (i.e. white) and safe. Then the neighborhood gets to be 'on the radar' and prices rise. The original urban pioneers reap real estate appreciation and tend to age in place, while a new generation of urban pioneers goes on to unwittingly open up the next best located old neighborhood.

So the short answer at present is that affluent people like to live near other affluent people in locations that are convenient to work.

There also seems to be some sorting by political philosophy going on, as the Heights has the most geographically concentrated cluster of donors to candidates of the Democrat Party, and as I've noticed that a lot of folks are there because they either want to embrace a community that has shared values or because they want to reject the values that they associate (rightly or wrongly) with suburbia.

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Moved here 2 years ago... Here's why

1. Close to everywhere I enjoy and friends (midtown, washington, memorial park, buff bayou, etc...)

2. It's a 10-15 minute drive to work

3. Reminds me of Eureka where I grew up.

4. Has lots of mature trees

5. Better built older home to preserve and restore

6. Active community with all sorts of neighborhood events

7. Not in a flood plain

8. Great investment area

9. Diverse culture and ages of people/neighbors

10. It felt right.

I don't think I could have picked a better place, where else can you find neighbors like mine (College stoners, hispanic family with naked babies running around, crazy misunderstood Polish packrat, Jesus praising "art gardeners"...), seems like just the right mix that keeps things interesting.

D

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I keep hearing people talk about the Heights so I finally got around to driving through last weekend. For reference, we drove up Heights Blvd from I-10 to 20th, took 20th to Rutland, went north on Rutland almost to 610, cut over to Yale and drove Yale all the way back to I10. I saw some nicely restored homes, but also many run down places and small apt complexes. There were a couple of coffee shops, a couple of antique stores and a few bars but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for other neighborhoods of similar age and location. We stopped at the Kroger on 20th and it was fairly shabby.

I don't intend this to be a put down of the Heights, but we didn't see anything particularly special about the area. Can someone enlighten me? Did we drive down the wrong streets? Why does the Heights seem to be so popular vs other inner loop neighborhoods?

Your tour was of the still transitioning part of the Heights. The firmly established part is between Yale and Houston Ave., I-10 and 20th Street. Once you drive that and see what it is, you can drive the rest and see what it can and should be.

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Moved here 2 years ago... Here's why

1. Close to everywhere I enjoy and friends (midtown, washington, memorial park, buff bayou, etc...)

2. It's a 10-15 minute drive to work

3. Reminds me of Eureka where I grew up.

4. Has lots of mature trees

5. Better built older home to preserve and restore

6. Active community with all sorts of neighborhood events

7. Not in a flood plain

8. Great investment area

9. Diverse culture and ages of people/neighbors

10. It felt right.

I don't think I could have picked a better place, where else can you find neighbors like mine (College stoners, hispanic family with naked babies running around, crazy misunderstood Polish packrat, Jesus praising "art gardeners"...), seems like just the right mix that keeps things interesting.

D

Saintcyr could not have summed it better. The main reason I love the Heights area is the LOCATION, active community involvement and property value appreciation. Plus it is relatively affordable/safer? compared to Montrose where I first intendede to live. In about five years time, my home appreciated 60K. Of couse don't tell the appraisal district this fact. :D

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Physically speaking, you're correct that there's nothing especially unique about the Heights. It's just that there's a relatively small number of people that are urban pioneers (typically young, hip, low-budget), and they tend to flock together to specific well-located and inexpensive neighborhoods until those neighborhoods are considered by outsiders to be gentrified (i.e. white) and safe. Then the neighborhood gets to be 'on the radar' and prices rise. The original urban pioneers reap real estate appreciation and tend to age in place, while a new generation of urban pioneers goes on to unwittingly open up the next best located old neighborhood.

So the short answer at present is that affluent people like to live near other affluent people in locations that are convenient to work.

There also seems to be some sorting by political philosophy going on, as the Heights has the most geographically concentrated cluster of donors to candidates of the Democrat Party, and as I've noticed that a lot of folks are there because they either want to embrace a community that has shared values or because they want to reject the values that they associate (rightly or wrongly) with suburbia.

That's kind of what I thought...

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/02/22...gentrification/

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Hrrrrm. Well, we haven't closed yet, but....

Anything South of Washington is too expensive.

Anything outside 610 is too far (we have never lived more than 10 miles from our employers).

Anything in Washington was too expensive and by rr tacks (I am a VERY light sleeper).

East side (West of Downtown) is a little run down still and I wouldn't want my wife driving some of those streets at night alone.

That pretty much left North of I-10 and West of Studemontish.

I guess I am saying a lot of people end up in the area by process of elimination (sorry, I don't mean Heights proper, so this may be off topic). As to why we do actually like it - we look forward to being able to ride our bikes to a close by bar or a trip to the spice store or farmer's market. We've done that in Kirby/Montrose/Grey, and it's not exactly relaxing with all the traffic and lights.

The Heights is much more relaxed compared to else where we have lived inside the loop (again, when I say Hieghts I include White Oak, Shady Acres, etc.).

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For me, it was also a process of elimination. I was ready to give up apartment life for a yard, but I didn't need or want a lot of house. It had to be close in because I'm a city girl, but in a somewhat safe area because I live alone. Heights, because it still has some tiny, not-completely-redone houses was what I could afford given the other criteria. I didn't really target the Heights area. It was just where I found the house that was right for me. As it is I'm not in Heights proper, but the distinction doesn't really mean anything to me.

To me, Heights is quintessential Houston. If you like Houston, you'd like the Heights. If you just can't bring yourself to embrace Houston in all its messiness, then you'd probably not like the Heights much either. To me, it feels like home.

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What everyone else said. I love the combination of cute old homes and random weirdness. I love that fact that I get called up on my neighbor's porch on my way home from the bus stop to share some wine and talk about everything from Iran to current educational theory. I love the fact that I can walk to a fancy dinner at Glass Wall, or take a can of Bud Light to Andy's for a cheap meal. I love that we can decide to go to an Astros game and be at the ballpark in 10 minutes. I LOVE Lights in the Heights.

My husband and I were just discussing this last night and he said "You know, if we hadn't moved to this neighborhood, I think we would have left Houston after a year". It's certainly not the place for everyone, but it's incredibly charming once you live here.

Some friends of ours just moved to Houston, and were looking to rent a place near Rice. They ended up in Norhill, and they absoluely adore it. They have a little boy, and they like to take walks around the neighborhood and chat with the locals. We can't get the husband to travel anywhere outside of the 610 loop.

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Yes, I've driven by the Heights on I-10 and I fail to see the appeal... ;)

Which is precisely why you should not buy or build in the Heights. And that is precisely why I will not buy or build in Kingwood. There, we can all get along.

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Because it was close to work.

Because I had 12 mature pecan trees on my small urban lot.

Because I could find my house while driving down the street without having to look for the address on my mailbox because my house looked exactly like all the neighbors.

I could paint my house pink and purple if I wanted to.

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Which is precisely why you should not buy or build in the Heights. And that is precisely why I will not buy or build in Kingwood. There, we can all get along.

My attempt at sarcasm has failed :(

How about this? "I flew over the Heights and I fail to see the appeal"

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History? My late mother grew up here, met my dad when they both rented rooms in a house on Pecore during the 40's. I thought it was a dump when I was growing up but as I got older (and more open-minded) I started seeing the charm. I was a semi-early adopter moving to the area around 1987 and bought my current home in Norhill in the '90's for a bargain basement price of $65K. I've toyed with the idea of moving since (I love mods) but it's just such a cool place for many of the reasons already mentioned:location, proximity to work, walking/biking ability, and a degree of eccentricity. Every night when I'm out walking my dog, I am inspired by just how cool my area is, how diverse and friendly are the neighbors. It is the "anti-suburb" to me and I like it for that.

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History? My late mother grew up here, met my dad when they both rented rooms in a house on Pecore during the 40's. I thought it was a dump when I was growing up but as I got older (and more open-minded) I started seeing the charm. I was a semi-early adopter moving to the area around 1987 and bought my current home in Norhill in the '90's for a bargain basement price of $65K. I've toyed with the idea of moving since (I love mods) but it's just such a cool place for many of the reasons already mentioned:location, proximity to work, walking/biking ability, and a degree of eccentricity. Every night when I'm out walking my dog, I am inspired by just how cool my area is, how diverse and friendly are the neighbors. It is the "anti-suburb" to me and I like it for that.

There was a time when it was a dump. The last of the 50+ year resident (not their age but length of residency) tell stories of moving to their back bedrooms for fear of driveby shootings because of all the gang and drug dealer activities. Many still have their homes encased in burglar bars. Good people get trapped in neighborhoods and apartment complexes all the time when crime takes over. Many would be surprised to know that there was a time that West U was a dump.

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Our neighbors did this, I think it's great. Pink with purple trim and garage door.

Don't forget the cream colored accents to tone it down a bit. :lol:

Actually the color scheme was lifted from a house we saw in the Garden District in NOLA.

Edited by west20th
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Hmm...here a few reasons:

1) It's very diverse and "hip"...I guess it's Houston's Greenwich Village

2) No McMansions

3) The abandoned MKT right of way makes its way through the Heights. (Un)fortunately, no plan exists for METRO to turn it to light rail.

4) It's close to I-610 (but is that ALWAYS a good thing?)

5) The trees have lots of time to mature and thus are VERY big.

Of course, I don't live in the Heights. Haven't been there. But I heard it looks nice from the exterior. This board doesn't seem to have pictures of the place...

Edited by IronTiger
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Of course, I don't live in the Heights. Haven't been there. But I heard it looks nice from the exterior. This board doesn't seem to have pictures of the place...

You can find pictures of the Shady Acres area (west of Heights) on this link. It shows the good, the bad, the new, the old, the traditional, and the wtf homes. ;)

http://www.shadyacres.org/index.php?page=19

Edited by samiamj
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5) The trees have lots of time to mature and thus are VERY big.

Hmm... tree envy? We understand :P

You can find pictures of the Shady Acres area (west of Heights) on this link. It shows the good, the bad, the new, the old, the traditional, and the wtf homes. ;)

http://www.shadyacres.org/index.php?page=19

tmariar is very good at capturing the Heights in pics at the Heights Blog

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As crazy as it sounds now... I moved into the Heights because it was cheap. and my neighbors were freaks and musicians. Oh, and the homes had yards with trees! My how the neighborhood has changed!

This made me laugh because I remember visiting a buddy there around 1994 who moved there because he could get a house well under $100k and Montrose was getting pricey as houses topped $100k. I pulled up next to his new place and promptly drove into a drainage ditch. I always dug the Heights and it has changed a ton in the last 10 years. But Heights people are just Heights people. I can't put my finger on it. I moved there for 6 months in in 1998 when i thought Montrose was losing its soul and then moved back becasuse, well, i just wasn't a Heights person. I don't know what the deal is with the Heights. It has more to do with the people than the aesthetics I think -- everyone there just convinces themselves that they are in a great place and - voila! - everyone else wants to go there. And "White Linen Night" is gayer than anything in Montrose.

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And "White Linen Night" is gayer than anything in Montrose.

Of course it's gay. We stole it from New Orleans.

I don't know what the deal is with the Heights. It has more to do with the people than the aesthetics I think -- everyone there just convinces themselves that they are in a great place and - voila! - everyone else wants to go there.

It is somewhat amusing...and perhaps sad...that we try so hard to ignore the fact that it just might be the people that live here that makes it work. Why couldn't it be that the place is full of freaks and artists, musicians, liberals and libertarians? Why can't it be the fact that not only do my neighbors not care that my dogs bark at everyone that walks by, they actually know their names? Why wouldn't I like a neighborhood that doesn't bat an eye when I paint my house yellow, red and blue? Could it be that, unlike many neighborhoods that design the homes to face inward and the garages facing out, the Heights houses face the sidewalk and the garages face the alley? And doesn't that make for a friendlier existence? These designs are no longer practiced in most new homes. Isn't it possible that it makes one feel a little better living where these designs still exist?

Eh, maybe that's not the reason, but it's close enough for me.

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Of course it's gay. We stole it from New Orleans.

It is somewhat amusing...and perhaps sad...that we try so hard to ignore the fact that it just might be the people that live here that makes it work. Why couldn't it be that the place is full of freaks and artists, musicians, liberals and libertarians? Why can't it be the fact that not only do my neighbors not care that my dogs bark at everyone that walks by, they actually know their names? Why wouldn't I like a neighborhood that doesn't bat an eye when I paint my house yellow, red and blue? Could it be that, unlike many neighborhoods that design the homes to face inward and the garages facing out, the Heights houses face the sidewalk and the garages face the alley? And doesn't that make for a friendlier existence? These designs are no longer practiced in most new homes. Isn't it possible that it makes one feel a little better living where these designs still exist?

Eh, maybe that's not the reason, but it's close enough for me.

Right on Red!

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...Could it be that, unlike many neighborhoods that design the homes to face inward and the garages facing out, the Heights houses face the sidewalk and the garages face the alley? And doesn't that make for a friendlier existence? These designs are no longer practiced in most new homes. Isn't it possible that it makes one feel a little better living where these designs still exist?

Eh, maybe that's not the reason, but it's close enough for me.

To add to this - parts of the Heights were developed before most people had automobiles, and they commuted places via streetcar. Therefore, the streets are a little narrower, and the street grid itself was laid out to be very walkable (one had to walk from their house to the nearest streetcar stop or neighborhood destination. These two planning moves help make the scale of the neighborhood more human-oriented, so it subliminally "feels better".

The urban planning genre of "New Urbanism" attempts to replicate this concept, though it is unfortunately often accompanied by cheesy architecture.

Edited by Dan the Man
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This made me laugh because I remember visiting a buddy there around 1994 who moved there because he could get a house well under $100k and Montrose was getting pricey as houses topped $100k. I pulled up next to his new place and promptly drove into a drainage ditch. I always dug the Heights and it has changed a ton in the last 10 years. But Heights people are just Heights people.

Funny, because this reminds me of how depressed I got when I moved back home, ready to buy a house, and quickly discovered that I couldn't afford the Heights. If you were to take the Heights and remove 60% of the white people and stuff they like, and add more chickens, you'd have Eastwood (well, at least on my block). Turns out I love it, and reminds me of the Heights from the late 80s and early 90s.

I've known a number of people who like the Heights because it reminds them of New Orleans. But I would submit that in the east end we're actually more like New Orleans' lower garden district than the Heights, in our proximity to a major navigable waterway. A few blocks from the ship channel just ain't the same as a few blocks from the Mississippi, I guess. ;) Think of Harrisburg as our Magazine St. En Espanol, of course. :)

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