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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Houston, changes time wrought

DSC_4538When I first arrive in Houston the year was 1975. We (my first husband and small children) lived in Spring Branch. Our home was north of I-10 and set between Highway 8 and Gesner. On our section of these two roads there were only two lanes with open drainage on each side. Behind our house, butted up to the 8 was a small area of forest.    Yesterday I was in this same area and Gesner is now 6 lanes with a center boulevard with turn lanes inset. It is curbed, lighted and has new high-tech traffic lights. Beltway 8 is a toll road with 8 lanes elevated and 3 access lanes on each side. The interchange with the newly widened I-10 (Interstate 10 that runs coast to coast.) is a wonder in engineering. I would have preferred some form of Mass Transit but even with the feds paying the bill and designing the highway no train or overhead was required in the plan.   While we lived in that area we used to shop, not at Town & Country or at the Memorial City mall, but would DSC_4537drive to the old SharpsTown Center. Town & Country shopping finished in the early 80s just never took off, most of the store space stayed empty and the Inside mall was eventually changed to office space and a new DSC_4529DSC_4532outdoor shopping area was added south, just off Memorial drive. In defiance of all marketing theory this open area is always full to the point of having no parking.
Memorial City had a Sears, a JC Penny’s and a movie Theater and always smelled of wet ceilings and stale popcorn, so we drove the distance, probably 10 miles or so to SharpsTown Center. They had a Dillard’s and Macys, and I don’t remember what else, but I remember always enjoying shopping there.
About 10 years ago Memorial City revamped itself, adding sleek marble floors, sitting areas with plush chairs and modern benches, and a new Dillard’s and Lord&Tailor stores.
DSC08295DSC08294And against all odds SharpsTown has become a victim, not of the world economic crisis but of changing demographics. Those with money left, moving west and south leaving apartment buildings and shops to the low income construction workers and day laborers. SharpsTown Center has closed its doors entirely. The whole area for a 10 block square has a look of urban blight and lost dreams.


  1. OH MY that is hauntingly like Dallas, when the Prestonwood Mall went dead, and they built the new Central Expwy and 635 over pass with giant stars all over, I have heard I will not recognize the area at all now... I actually have been to that area of Houston as well...

    Hope all is well...

  2. I imagine that this story echos all over the USA. Did I mention that going under the I-10 feels like driving through a short tunnel - in this area and all the way out to Katy TX they have expanded the freeway to 18 (!I Cant make the number larger! but I repaet 18!) lanes wide - good grief.

  3. I recently went back to where I was raised and I couldn't believe it!! I almost didn't recognize it at all anymore. I think with the population explosion and industry, there are so many beuatiful places that have changed so very much. It kind of made me sad in a way.
    I know that things must change...sbut I long for more of the trees and gardens of my youth. Sigh........

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl