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The Changing Face of Houston: Sharpstown Then and Now

The Sharpstown area has changed a great deal over the decades since its creation, and those changes reflect the way Houston has continued to evolve, a city constantly in motion. Originally the vision of developer Frank Sharp, who also created Oak Forest, construction of Sharpstown began in the mid '50s and was completed in 1961. At the time, the neighborhood was recognized as the largest subdivision in the United States, with its own mall and a golf course.

It's easy for modern residents to forget how small Houston was half a century ago, but Sharpstown was considered a suburban escape from the hassles of living in the big city, while still conveniently only 15 minutes or so from the downtown area.

The development allowed for schools, recreation, and retail areas as well as nice post-war homes (a new concept at the time), making Sharpstown one of the nation's first master-planned developments, and the first such community in Houston.

Frank Sharp was concerned about easy transport between downtown Houston and his new neighborhood development, so he donated land to the state of Texas, which became the Southwest Freeway. This ensured that Sharpstown would be connected to the heart of Houston, and that deliveries to the new mall would also be reliable. Back then the mall was named Sharpstown Center, and offered shoppers perks such as air-conditioning, something that was not standard at the time.

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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.