Sole Of Houston: UH Architecture Professor Graphs Bellaire Boulevard

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Ray Davies never sang about seeing stars on Bellaire Boulevard
​Three years ago this month, David Beebe and I trekked Bellaire Boulevard from west of Highway 6 to the Little Woodrow's on the train tracks at the West U / Bellaire border. We didn't continue any further because the prosperous stretch from that faux icehouse -- the last beer available on a street with a severe shortage of same -- to the Med Center bored us.

I summed up that adventure thusly:

So that's Bellaire Boulevard. We didn't see a single abandoned shopping cart, unlike Shepherd, which seems to use them as mile markers. There's not enough trees. (Or bars. There are virtually no places to drink a beer on this street.) The closer in you are, the more boring it is. There are almost no pedestrians. It has one of the strangest bus-riding clienteles in town.

If Westheimer is mainly about the fetishes, broken dreams and vanities of Anglo whites, and Shepherd is all about the needs of cars, Bellaire is a world market of a street, a bazaar where Mexicans, Anglos, Salvadorans, African Americans, Hondurans, stoners, Vietnamese, Chinese, Koreans and Thais go to shop and eat.

Earlier this month, University of Houston architecture professor Susan Rogers examined the same street with more of a scholarly bent, one that probably didn't include her drinking screw-cap wine in the median of Bellaire Boulevard near the Bellaire city bandshell.

On a west to east axis, Rogers graphed both the country of origin and household income for each census tract that intersects Bellaire/Holcombe.

The result of this study will surprise no one who has driven or walked the street -- in broadest terms, the street is rich and white close in. Incomes plummets at the Bellaire city line; that is also where the diversity of birthplace explodes.

Yeah, yeah, you can see that just driving down the street. And yet her graphs are still very useful, because they both confirm what seems to be obvious and more importantly, quantify it. Her inclusion of continent of origin for the foreign-born is also very interesting.

Here's hoping she does the same project for other streets on the West Side; we imagine Bissonnet would be quite similar, with fewer Asians and more Africans and Latinos perhaps staying constant. (Household income approaching Main might even exceed that of Holcombe in West U.)

We'd be curious to see her do the same for a West Side street that runs north and south, like Hillcroft/Voss/Bingle.

But then we've never walked a mile like that on any of our hikes across Houston, so who are we to make demands?

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.