Midtown Continues to Thrive As a Beacon of New Urbanism
Any recognition of the current iteration of Midtown requires at minimum a cursory study of its hardscrabble roots, a courtesy perusal of its past when vacant lots, abandoned buildings, residential flight and an absence of businesses all sullied its reputation.
That imagery presents a stark contrast to the radiance of modern-day Midtown, and it serves as a showcase for the district’s maturation and modernization. For all the wonderment that Midtown embodies, from the explosive growth of businesses, idyllic expanses of green space, blend of arts and entertainment, boisterous nightlife, and multitude of residential options in safe environs, conceptualizing what Midtown once was helps underscore its development as a vibrant, thriving community.
Midtown experienced its resurgence in the early 1990’s via development, economic investment and community planning, and has since blazed a trail toward new urbanism by delivering on the creation of a district offering a desirous quality of life.
Traversing Midtown reveals this undeniable truth. Its varied and attractive residential options featuring nearly two dozen accommodations make Midtown a haven for families seeking both proximity to Downtown Houston and the aesthetic appeal of suburban communities. Once largely devoid of successful companies conducting commerce, Midtown is now cultivating a flourishing environment in which businesses are bustling and others are clamoring to take root.
From 10 auto dealers and service providers, nine salons, spas and barbershops, seven banks, six dry cleaners, three markets and grocery stores, and several others devoted to retail services, businesses abound.
Previously dreary and dilapidated, Midtown has become a popular tourist destination. From its pedestrian crosswalks framed with an artistic twist to its resplendent parks, Midtown caters to walkers and bikers alike. Midtown is a cultural marvel, with theaters, museums, galleries and exhibits contributing to a renowned, respected art scene.
From the Ensemble Theatre, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art and the Devin Borden Gallery, the Heinen Theatre & Theatre One, the Buffalo Soldiers Museum and the Lawndale Art Center, Midtown is diverse and satisfies the artistic palate of the culturally curious.
As a result, Midtown was awarded the first cultural arts and entertainment designation for a management district in the state.
With more than three dozen clubs, bars and lounges in Midtown, nightlife pulsates throughout the district. Midtown restaurants are even more populous, with dining selections ranging from upscale (Reef, Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar) and eclectic (Weights + Measures, Natachee’s Supper ‘n Punch); trendy (Ibiza Food & Wine Bar, Jinya Ramen Bar) to cheap eats (Les Grival’s, Tacos a Go-Go); popular (The Breakfast Klub, The Fish) to esoteric (Sparrow Bar + Cookshop).
Tourists can take refuge at La Maison (2800 Brazos St.). Places of worship meet the needs of residents across a swath of denominations, including St. John’s United Methodist Church, South Main Baptist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and the First Evangelical Lutheran Church as well as the Bahai Faith of Houston, Holy Rosary Parish and CORE Church. Healthcare, fitness and social services are plentiful, too.
Aligned with the twin pillars of community-driven and citizen-led, Midtown is fully committed to public safety, increasing its law enforcement agencies from two officers to five constables and a supervising sergeant so that residents and visitors can rest assured.
The story of Midtown is one of a community birthed from foresight and careful consideration. The alluring vitality of the district might serve as its hallmark, but it also represents a reminder of both how far Midtown has come and its future potential. Midtown is ripe for additional improvement, with plans in the works to turn what is a remarkable and quaint community into something otherworldly.