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Houston Has a Germantown?

Yes....but maybe not in the way you’d expect.

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This little sliver of neighborhood sandwiched between I 45 and Houston Ave, is often lumped in with the adjacent area of Woodland Heights, but it is it’s own neighborhood with it’s own unique history. The area gets it’s name from the late 1800s when White Oak Bayou, that runs just south of the neighborhood boundaries, was populated by German immigrant families. What we know as Germantown is just a small leftover area of the original farm area. The neighborhood saw it’s development begin in the very early 20th Century and it evolved into a working class neighborhood featuring many simple craftsman, Queen Anne, and American Four Square homes. The I-45 construction of the 1960s split the area and it forced some residents to move to make room for progress.

The south border of Germantown is marked by Woodland Park. This is one of the oldest parks in Houston, and was developed in 1903. Public parks were a rarity at this time in history, it was only the second park in the city at this time! So, when the Houston electric Company announced they were investing $30,000 into developing a grand, new park, you can imagine the excitement. The original name of the park was Highland Park it featured 30 acres, a restaurant, dance pavilion, an artificial lake for small boating, and streetcar access bringing you right to the front of the park. The grand opening was July 4, 1903 and reported attendance was 5,000.

The park was acquired by the City of Houston in 1911 and the name was changed to Woodland Park. Interestingly enough, this park became Houston’s first Zoo in 1915. Houston’s first zoological collection was a pair of ostriches. Houston School children donated their pennies for the ostriches and…within a year the park had up to 60 animals.

In 1916, a shelter building and swimming pool were completed with the first parks bond issued through the development of the brand new Department of Public Parks.

Woodland Park and Germantown has seen a lot of changes over the past century. To further protect this area the Germantown Historic District was formed December 5, 2012. This district has rules, guidelines and restriction to inform residences how to appropriately alter and add on to existing historic structures for the preservation and enhancement of the neighborhood.

We love our city's history! And, we love preserving and promoting it! Stay tuned to learn more about our cool city according to Marianne.

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