The 60' wide Heights Boulevard esplanade is maintained through a cooperative effort by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) and Houston Heights Association (HHA) volunteers. PARD mows and trims the Boulevard while HHA installs and maintains the esplanade improvements.
Houston Heights Association's Boulevard Improvements
- 300 sidewalk live oaks planted
- Rose Garden installed at 20th
- Jogging Trail
- I-10 entrance sign
HHA Heights Boulevard Beautification Project (completed 2003)
- Master plan developed 1997-1999 with significant neighborhood input
- Over $500,000 raised to implement the plan
- 375 new trees planted - 140 by volunteers and 235 by contractors
- Over 1000 cubic yards of fill added to alleviate flooding problems
- New trees surrounded by 1600 cubic yards of mulch to protect their roots and trunks
- Irrigation systems installed on every block to keep the new trees alive
- 20 new, all metal benches added
- New flowerbeds planted on both sides of White Oak Bayou bridges
- Expanded entrance sign with a plaza and drinking fountains
- Arbor walls with benches added on the 400 and 1600 blocks
Planned Boulevard Volunteer Activities
- Maintenance of flower beds - Rose Garden, Gazebos, Cohen Plaza, Entrance Sign, White Oak Bayou Bridges
- Care of the 375 new trees
- Trimming of the sidewalk live oaks
- Re-topping Boulevard mulch beds
- Upkeep of over 20 sprinkler systems
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On May 5,1891, O. M. Carter, President of the American Loan & Trust Company, instructed his agents to begin buying 1,765 acres of land four miles northwest of Houston. The land was owned by Mrs. Sarah Brashear, who sold it to Carter's agents for $45 per acre. After purchasing the tract, Carter filed the charter for the Omaha and South Texas Land Company in April 1892, and disclosed his intention to construct and operate on the tract, "a first-class residence and manufacturers locality..." On May 2, 1892, scarcely one year after the Omaha and South Texas Land Company acquired the land, 300 men began clearing the land for "The Boulevard," later known as Heights Boulevard, the grand entrance into their residential area. The men lived in tent camps on the property during construction.
They also began clearing the land for a steam railroad to the planned industrial section where Carter had enticed major manufacturing concerns to locate. A story has been told of an incident in which G. B. Hengen, who was engineer in charge of construction, would have been killed by a large pine tree as it was cut down in August 1892, had it not been for D.D. Cooley, Supervisor of Development. Mr. Cooley upon seeing the tree fall, called out "Mr. Hengen, come at once!" Knowing that Mr. Hengen would respond immediately, Mr. Cooley knew that if he had warned him any other way, Mr. Hengen would not have had time to get out of the way of the falling tree. (Photograph courtesy of Carter Cooley Deli)
Oscar Martin Carter’s Vision
As early as 1886, Oscar Martin Carter, a self-made millionaire from Nebraska, brought to Houston a utopian vision for the approaching twentieth century. A planned community where successful entrepreneurs and working people alike could live and work, in health and safety, as neighbors. Carter chose the ideal spot for his new community. Houston Heights, with an elevation 23 feet higher than downtown Houston, a natural sandy soil, rich vegetation, mature trees and artesian water sources, promised a sanctuary of health and well being.
Fulfilling The Vision
Houston Heights became the first "master-planned community" in Houston and was a marvel of its time. Throngs of curious visitors piled onto streetcars to share a glimpse of Carter’s utopian vision, a place where grand Victorian mansions and quaint working- class cottages coexisted in harmony alongside industrial and business districts. The blocks were carefully arranged, scattered open spaces supplemented the 60 foot-wide esplanade on Heights Boulevard, a broad, tree-lined central thoroughfare patterned after Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.