When LOCAL, one of our favorite Houston magazines, looked to broker Bill Baldwin for “Where to Live Next,” a feature on Houston’s hottest truly up-and-coming neighborhoods, we were excited to see what he had to say. For Bill, up-and-coming in Houston right now means neighborhoods that are a bit more affordable, relatively close to the city’s core, and are beginning to revitalize while managing to keep their rich character and history intact. With those characteristics as his biggest qualifiers, Bill picked 4 areas (including their neighborhoods/subdivisions) as the next places to live in Houston. The areas are Greater/Near Northside (Lindale Park, Ryon, Cascara, Hardy Yards), Greater East End (Eastwood, Idylwood, Lawndale/Wayside, Magnolia Park), Southwest (Willowbend, Westbury, Maplewood/Robindell, Post Oak Manor), and Greater Fifth Ward/Kashmere Gardens.
In our first post in the series, we covered Greater/Near Northside, now it’s on to the Greater East End.
Greater East End
(Eastwood, Lawndale/Wayside, Idylwood, Magnolia Park)
The Greater East End is an approximately 16 square mile area sitting directly to the east of downtown and northeast of EaDo. It is roughly bounded by Clinton Rd. to the north, the 610 Loop to the east, I-45/Telephone Rd. to the south, and US 59/Terminal Rd. to the west. Just like Near Northside, the Greater East End has typically had a working class Hispanic community and has seen a surge of revitalization and development in the past few years without an influx of displacement. Home styles range from 1920’s craftsman bungalows to traditional single-family homes, and while we are starting to see homes turnover, some of the neighborhoods in the area have deed restrictions, helping to keep out townhomes in favor of single-family homes that will preserve the character of the East End.
The story of the Greater East End can really be traced all the way back to 1837 when The Constitution became the first steamboat to traverse Buffalo Bayou, providing validation for the idea that Houston could be an economic trading hub. In subsequent years, an increasing number of ships passed through this port in East Houston, causing the easternmost part of the city to grow in trade, commerce, and culture. After the great Galveston hurricane of 1900 devastated the port of Galveston, President Woodrow Wilson opened the World Port of Houston, and East Houston really began to take off. Thousands of jobs were created as a result of this, as the Port of Houston, which has grown to be the busiest in the United States, really came to life.
This economic boom, largely tied to the area’s abundance of industrialized work, sparked an influx of immigration to East Houston in the early 20th century, up until the 1930s, when the Great Depression caused immigration to stagnate. Asian immigrants made up a good percentage of the first wave of immigrants, followed by a heavy inflow of Hispanic immigrants. This is when many of the neighborhoods of the Greater East End (Magnolia Park, Idylwood, Eastwood) were created, and the area first started to take shape.
A gradual economic downturn started to hit the Greater East End in the 1970s, as many of its industrial plants had lost viability and much of the area’s Asian population, and their long-standing businesses, moved to southwest Houston. This lasted until the 1990s when a strengthening Port of Houston and an increase in skilled labor jobs led to an economic resurgence in the East End that continues today.
Here is what to look out for:
- The East End is often confused or conflated with EaDo, when in reality, they are simply neighbors, with EaDo sitting southwest of the Greater East End. The East End has its own distinct history and culture separate from EaDo.
- Already established subdivisions within the East End like Eastwood and Idylwood have deed restrictions to keep out unwanted, out-of place townhomes, helping to preserve the character of the existing neighborhood.
- The METRORail Green Line, which opened in May of 2015, and was finally fully completed in January of this year, runs 3.3 miles from the Theater District, through the heart of the East End, finishing at the Magnolia Park Transit Center. It provides easy transportation through the area, and connects to the Red Line, which runs through downtown and hits spots like the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center and NRG Park.
- The Greater East End Management District, created by Texas Legislature in 1999, provides services and capital improvements that include public safety programs, an award-winning graffiti abatement program, maintenance of major thoroughfares, and disposal of illegally dumped trash to the 16 square mile District. The GEEMD has played a major role in the revitalization of the Greater East End, as since 2010 alone, the District has used a $31 million grant-funded capital improvement program to widen Navigation Boulevard and create an urban street market in the esplanade, improve transit connections, renovate Guadalupe Park, and build new pedestrian and bike trails.
- The improvements made by the GEEMD, combined with the completion of the METRORail Green Line, now give East End residents a variety of ways to get around. Already with numerous METRO bus routes traversing the area, the METRORail now adds another great means of public transportation. Improved infrastructure, including better, more pedestrian friendly sidewalks, new streetlights, new bike trails and bikeways, fixed potholes (and streets in general), mean a more walkable, bikeable area and one that’s easier to navigate by car as well.
- In 2013, the GEEMD completed a $5 million improvement project along the aforementioned Navigation Boulevard, widening the 3 block esplanade across the street from the revered Original Ninfa’s on Navigation. The new esplanade, which was modeled in part after Barcelona’s La Rambla, is a community gathering space configured to play host to pop-up shops, food trucks, live music/entertainment, and more. The Esplanade’s defining event is the East End Street Market, a farmers’ market where local vendors, artisans, and small businesses sell food and goods in a vibrant celebration of the community. It takes place every Sunday from 10AM to 2PM.
- Bayou Greenways 2020 is giving a major boost to the Greater East End’s greenspaces and the area’s connectivity via a couple of Brays Bayou Greenway Projects. First, in November 2014, a 2.75 mile stretch of new parkland and trails running from Mason Park (located in the Lawndale/Wayside subdivision) to Old Spanish Trail near Wheeler Street was completed. Now, construction is under way on a new custom-designed pedestrian/bike bridge in Mason Park that’s projected to be completed by Spring 2018.
- In late July, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership announced the launch of the master plan for their East Sector development, which will aim to revitalize Buffalo Bayou east of downtown from US 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin with a focus on authenticity, connectivity, and inclusivity. A multi-disciplinary consultant team will collaborate on the plan, led by distinguished firms that have worked on plans for parks and waterfronts all over the US, including The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Hudson River Park in New York City, Maggie Daley Park and the 606 in Chicago, and Hermann Park and The Menil here in Houston. Due to damage from Hurricane Harvey along the bayou east of downtown, the East Sector development may now be pushed back some as resources are committed to dealing with the damage, but BBP president Anne Olson sees this as a wonderful opportunity for the plan to play a major role in resilient development in the area that will encompass flood detention, wetlands, and appropriate housing.
- In 2014, the Texas Commission on the Arts officially designated the East End as a Texas cultural district. The area’s huge collection of outdoor murals, 30+ arts and culture institutions, historic sites and structures, and impressive culinary scene all contribute to this eclectic cultural district.
- As a very distinctive cultural arts district, it should be no surprise that the East End was selected as the backdrop for much of Remote Houston, a unique pedestrian-based live art theatrical experience. Originally part of CounterCurrent, Remote Houston takes 50 participants on a guided audio tour largely through the East End landscape.
- The Port of Houston (which runs through Magnolia Park) is the busiest in the US, with around 215 million tons of cargo passing through it every year. Since the Panama Canal expansion in 2016, the port has seen a healthy increase in traffic. Thus, the port continues to expand to ensure that it keeps up with the growing number of ships and containers coming through.
- William A. Wilson, developer of Woodland Heights, also designed and developed the East End’s neighborhood of Eastwood, starting in 1911.
- One of the many landmarks of the East End is the Morales Funeral Home. Opened in 1931 by Felix and Angela Morales, it was the first Hispanic-owned funeral home in Houston, not only offering a dignified place for Hispanics to hold funerals for loved ones, but paving the way for other Hispanic businesses. Our broker Bill Baldwin has gotten the opportunity to work with and befriend the Moraleses’ granddaughter, Christina Morales. He expands on the funeral home and the Moraleses here.
- 610 Loop
- Anne Olson
- Bayou Greenways 2020
- buffalo bayou
- Buffalo Bayou Partnership
- Clinton Road
- downtown Houston
- East Downtown
- East End
- East End Houston Cultural District
- East End Street Market
- East Houston
- Felix H. Morales Funeral Home
- Greater East End
- Greater East End Management District
- Greater Northside
- Harrisburg Boulevard
- hurricane harvey
- LOCAL magazine
- Magnolia Park
- Magnolia Park Transit Center
- Mason Park
- METRORail Green Line
- Morales Funeral Home
- Navigation Boulevard
- Navigation Esplanade
- Near Northside
- Old Spanish Trail
- Original Ninfa's on Navigation
- Port of Houston
- Port of Houston Turning Basin
- Remote Houston
- Telephone Road
- Terminal Road
- Theater District
- US 59
- Wheeler Street
- William A. Wilson
- Woodland Heights
- Woodrow Wilson