Best of Houston

The Changing Face of Houston - Glenbrook Valley

Houston grew a great deal during the years following the end of World War II, with many new neighborhoods being developed during that time period. When Interstate 45 was built in 1948, Houston began to expand south, with the opening of Hobby Airport, and proximity to NASA, Ellington Field, and the Ship Channel fueling much of that growth.

During the nine years between 1953 and 1962, the suburb of Glenbrook Valley was built along Sims Bayou in Southeast Houston, on pastureland that had once been part of the enormous Allen cattle ranch.

At the time, Glenbrook Valley was viewed as a desirable place to live, a showcase of modern living, which garnered national attention during its early years. The neighborhood was designed as a cohesive planned community and composed primarily of mid-century modern and ranch style homes, which were both considered the pinnacle of style during the postwar period. Early on, the neighborhood got a lot of attention and was even featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The atomic age, mod design that many of Glenbrook Valley's homes displayed really stood out as a pronounced style new to the Houston area, and the subdivision easily attracted people interested in settling there. Many prominent Italian American families were early residents, and some of the homes featured unique features such as prayer nooks to accommodate their observance of the Catholic faith.

The neighborhood was quiet and was considered far enough away from the noise and hassle of central Houston to offer a high quality of life to its residents, but close enough so it wasn't inconveniently isolated. Many of the single family homes had huge yards and were stylish without being too showy. The developer of Glenbrook Valley was a man named Fred McManus, who envisioned the neighborhood as another River Oaks, which had also been developed along a bayou.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.