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West Loop

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Suburbanization began in the Post Oak area, south of Buffalo Bayou and five miles west of downtown, on the eve of World War II. The small “country place” subdivisions of the interwar years were followed in the postwar period by such large, comprehensively planned subdivisions as Tanglewood, opened in 1949 by the William G. Farrington Company. Beginning in the late 1950s, a number of ambitious developments combining shopping malls, multistory office buildings, and hotels were proposed for this area, but none advanced to construction until Gerald D. Hines began to plan the Galleria in 1964 ( HN7). When the Galleria opened in 1970, it transformed Post Oak once again, this time into what journalist Joel Garreau described in 1991 as an “edge city,” the translation of downtown-scaled metropolitan development to the heart of the suburbs. It is a mark of Houston's incessant population growth and territorial expansion that by the early twenty-first century, Post Oak seems less like an edge city than the uptown pendant to downtown Houston, an identity on which its business improvement district has aggressively capitalized.

Not until the postwar 1940s did Houston's suburban edge reach the immense pine forest west of Memorial Park and north of Buffalo Bayou. But during the 1950s this extensive sector, stretching eight miles west of the park, was consumed by low-density residential development. Interstate 10, constructed in the 1960s, became the sector's commercial corridor and in the late 1970s the site of the Energy Corridor edge city, where oil corporations located new office installations.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Gerald Moorhead et al.

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