Watching and Waiting

Sometimes I like to google “Near Northside” just to see what I get. I guess I hope that I might find links to articles that mention this neighborhood whatever reason. Maybe I also kind of hope to find that someone else is blogging about the Near Northside, writing about us, making art about us, or making music about us. Mostly what comes up from these searches are references to the Near Northside in Chicago; which isn’t really what I’m looking for.

More searching brings up a few more results; adding “Houston” to the end or separating “Northside” into “North” and “Side”. The results come back a lot more relative to my search. Still, the links that show up on top are links to this, my own blog. Its a little flattering. Its nice to know that someone will most likely come across this site when searching for information on the neighborhood. Its also a little disheartening. I cant be the only person writing or referencing the Near Northside on the World Wide Web! Can I? Am I really? as it turns out, I am not.

One of my searches turned up this article in the Houston Chronicle from 2006 – Mayor, Councilman Sign Housing Deal. The Housing Deal appeared to be a plan to build more affordable housing in the neighborhood, a down payment assistance program, and money to buy land for future homes. According to the story, the deal was a plan by The Metropolitan Organization to preserve the character of the working-class community…

In recent years, residents and organizers have fought efforts by developers to build condos and other projects that would have raised property values, property taxes and forced residents out of their homes.

Because of its location within minutes of downtown Houston, the community was viewed as prime real estate in the ever-growing gentrification of inner-loop neighborhoods.

Another search yielded a blog entry from 2011 by a realtor who focuses on homes in the Heights. His entry asks, Is it time to recommend Near Northside Homes?  In his article Mr. Martin cites the amazing renovation by Saul and Ruben Obregon on their historic house on Everett.  The Obregon house was featured in a previous article in the Houston Chronicle by Lisa Gray (which Martin also mentions in his article).  Martin confesses:

I have always been asked about the area between Lindale Park and downtown.. I have seen some wonderful old bungalows that would make me drool if they were in the Heights. They are not in the Heights though, or in any other easily categorized area. This is generally known as Near Northside Houston.

He ends the article with his recommendation:

So, is it it time to recommend this area? I would look into it, especially if you can’t afford the Heights. There are some darling homes in Near Northside.

Then there’s the photo below which I happened to see recently on Eater Houston

Poppa Burger by Gary R Wise. Source: houston.eater.com

Eater Houston calls itself, “The Houston Restaurant, Bar, and Nightlife blog”.  The blog updates a few times a day with  hot new restaurant openings, craft beer releases, and other news that Foodies in Houston would need in order to plan their nightlife.  The photo above was the top image on a list of such daily links.  Of course, this is an image of the Poppa Burger on North Main and Harrington, across from the Casa De Amigos Health Center.  Not necessarily the place that comes to mind after a night of drinking artfully crafted cocktails at Anvil.  It probably doesn’t have the kind of cult following that Someburger or Frenchy’s might enjoy.  Still, there it is, next to links that describe the right way to eat sushi; on a blog that highlights the city’s gastronimic diversity.

These links show that other people have, in fact, been writing about and referencing the Near Northside.  Not necessarily Northsiders, but other folks in the City who have quietly been looking at this neighborhood over the last decade.  While we, the current residents, have been complaining about being neglected, others are watching and waiting; taking an interest in the local resources that Northsiders might have taken for granted.

So why is it so hard to find art, music, photography, or writing about the Northside?  Especially anything like this being done by Northsiders?  Do we lack the resources or the training or the facilities to do so?  Do we fail to recognize just what we have here because we live it everyday?  Do we set our creative sights elsewhere in the City (Montrose, Museum District, Theater District) or even farther (New York, LA)?

As Northsiders we have the opportunity to identify ourselves to the rest of the City and the rest of the world.  If we don’t do it, someone else will come in and do it – without an insider perspective, without respect for the history or the aspirations of the neighborhood, and without anyone’s permission.

About nearnort

Jimmy is a Houston native, born and raised in the Near Northside, where he still lives with his own family. Jimmy tries to blog about himself and the neighborhood as often as he can - which is not often at all.
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3 Responses to Watching and Waiting

  1. carol says:

    hi..i read your blog and it took me back to the houston i knew when i was a kid..poppa burger especially..on saturdays we’d go get these amazing tacos with avocado..its the only place i ever had them..back then saturday nites meant going to a dance and staying out late with my mom and the man she lived with..it was always so exciting..never lacking for dance partners…that was so long ago..over thirty years…
    i have been trying to find the past but im not having much luck..maybe you might be able to help or point me in a direction to look..back then the folks we knew worked for a glass and mirror company near wirt rd in houston..chromolloy glass and mirror …then it became carolina mirror…i have been searching online for the co but so far nothing..my reason for looking..my mom is in her 80’s and wants to know what happened to the people she knew..raymundo martinez ..juan jaime…delfino or chimino mendez..gustavo and rosa or rosie yanez or yanas…and others…houston is so big and time changes so much…i know in my head you cant help but in my heart i sure wish you could..i’d love to give some closure to my mom…anyway..i liked your blog ..please do more i’ll keep reading..thanks

  2. nearnort says:

    Thank you for the comments. It’s good to know that the Northside means something to so many people. I haven’t heard anything about Chromolloy glass and mirror or about Carolina mirror on Wirt Rd. You might try to research them at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center which is housed in the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library (the old building of the Central Library downtown). It’s a great resource – free and open to the public.

  3. Shirley Looper says:

    Hi Jimmy,
    I ran across your web-site by accident yesterday. My parents moved there in 1942 and I grew up there in the 60’s just a few blocks behind Poppa Burger and one of my sister’s sold our 2 houses there in ’93 after my mom passed. ( I was not happy about that and have vowed that I will buy those houses back)…there are so many memories there and that neighborhood has such a “rich” culture there and I still know all the people that I grew up with and we still meet a weddings and funerals and other odd places. (We always called each other family. My family is Polish and so my mom always made Polish Food for the neighbors and they always made us Mexican Food.)

    For some reason or other, I still end up there in the neighborhood and I love to show my 22 year old the different places and tell him the history of the neighborhood. There is probably no street that I have not either walked or ridden on and I could point to the houses and tell you of the different people who live there or used to live there. I can tell you what building used to be there..such as The Pan American where everyone used to crowd at on Saturday’s and Sundays to dance. My brother actually had his wedding reception there. Now the Casa De Amigo’s Medical Clinic is there. The Old Carnegie Library that used to be by Marshall Jr. High, the Dube’s Drug Store that was on the corner of Fulton and Quitman and the list goes on… I know all the streets from Downtown, the Heights, all the Wards, Moody Park area (spent all summers at Moody Park Activity Center), Montie Beach Park(where we also spent summers), Airline and Patton, the Variety Boy’s Club, (where everyone learned how to swim), Farmer’s Market (where I still go to every now and then) Northline Area, Calvacade all the way to Greenspoint.

    I went to Lamar Elementary, Holy Name School, John Marshall and Jeff Davis. I left the neighborhood in ’82 came back to get married in ’87 at Holy Name Church, and had the reception at Montie Beach Park hall came back again to teach CCD classes at Holy Name School, came back to live with my ailing mom in the 90’s until the house was sold when she died in ’93.

    I still keep up with the news on the neighborhood…and if I ever had the time, I guess I could write several books about the history of the neighborhood and the people who grew up there…famous and so on. It’s funny, but in ’86 I went to work for an old Jewish doctor, who was in his 70’s, in River Oaks area, and one day shortly after I started there, he and I started talking and to both our surprise, he had grown up near Jeff Davis High School. He told me about the Jewish people who had settled there way back before my parents moved there! Our family is also related to the Italian people who lived there and who had Italian Restaurants in the Moody Park area. What a small world of Near Northsiders!

    Hope this helps both you and Carol in some way, and hopes to let you know that there are still “many” Northsiders who grew up there and that are still friends! I think that the Historic Society has somehow missed the significance of such a historic neighborhood! And to run the Metro-lift through such a historic neighborhood and to tear down the houses and buildings and to run out the people who lived there is a crime! The neighborhood needs to be brought back just like the Heights!

    It was so nice to run across your blog and most of all, another Near Northsider! I couldn’t believe it! If you have any questions or would like to stay in touch…just let me know!

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