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The Next Third Ward

Article that explores gentrification of Houston’s Third Ward, and what might be gained and lost in the process.

From The Awl article:

Last summer, Houston’s METRORail opened a six-and-a-half-mile route through the city’s Third Ward. It came after years and years of delays, and a federal investigation into the alleged purchase of prototype train cars built in Spain. As with number of the city’s Good Ideas, if you held your breath waiting for it, you’d probably end up dead. When I lived on the block, the half-built station platforms implied as much as Michelangelo’s prisoners — almost artful in their not-doneness, looking only a little bit half-assed. But the city held its breath, and the neighborhood waited. Now the train cuts through Elgin and Alabama Streets, and Macgregor Way, a sort of punchline for an area already wincing from gentrification.

Depending on how far you take the Purple Line up Scott Street, you can watch a condensed history of the one-time epicenter of black life in Houston, go by. As you ride toward the East End, you can see the gradual decline, and where drugs hit the neighborhood the hardest. There are remnants of the Ward’s past as a hotbed for blues, mansions shadowing streets with tough reputations, and an abundance of churches. Before long, you’ll take a smooth left toward downtown and the Theater District, into the affluent Fifth Ward, its skyscrapers barely visible from the poorest parts of the Third. Read more.