Friday, June 29, 2007

Houston Streets 2: bits of Bunker Hill, continued

We continue in Bunker Hill today. I mainly road on roads south of Memorial for this trip—streets often used by motorists to avoid the long light at Memorial and Gessner. (Needless to say, cut-throughs like Stoneybrook and Warrenton have speed-bumps.)

Unlike most of the other streets I’ve ridden on in Bunker Hill, neither Vanderpool nor Tamerlaine have much in the way of McMansion infestation. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. One nice side-effect is that the houses are aging and acquiring an attractive patina of soot, smog and algae. OK, it doesn’t sound nice, but it actually looks good, as on this house. It makes a house look like it didn’t just come out of its Tyvek wrapping yesterday. In a new city like Houston, that is worth seeing.

(I have to wonder—what was the developer thinking when he named the street Tamerlaine? Tamerlaine (aka Timur Leng) was a brutal Mongol conqueror of the 14th century, best known for sacking cities, slaughtering the inhabitants, and erecting pyramids of their skulls.)

Frostwood Elementary, at the corner of Gessner and Memorial, is where I went to school. When I was a kid, there was no locked gate to keep people out—I often went over there after school and on weekends to skateboard. But as seen at Bunker Hill Elementary, these are more paranoid times when it comes to kids. I just wonder if 1) the paranoia is justified or just hysterical, and 2) if kids brought up in this environment grow up right.

On Kilts, I noticed these two McMansions which were right next to each other. So you are wealthy enough to buy a large beautiful house—why do you need to shove your three-car garage right out in front (as the one on the left does)? It’s an ostentatious and unnecessary display of wealth. It is one step short of parking your fine cars on your front yard for people to see. The one on the right keeps its huge garage discreetly in that back. Additionally, it is superior because of its ample porch and balcony—features that allow the people of the house to have communication with people on the street, even if that communication is just a friendly wave. This helps make a neighborhood safer (more eyes on the street) and more neighborly.

This unusual and elegant house is on Warrenton. Note the symmetry and complete absence of windows facing front. Obviously this house lacks the neighborly virtues mentioned earlier, so on moral grounds I disapprove. But I think it looks pretty nice.

This kind of modernist house is relatively rare. Developers don’t really build them on spec—a homeowner has to really want one for it to be built. This one is on a beautiful creek side lot at the end of Naughton.

This house on Hickory Ridge is no McMansion—this is the real thing. ( only estimates its worth at $1.89 million, which seems suspiciously low to me.) The closer we get to the Loop in Memorial, the more common these mansions will be.

Hickory Ridge is a street designed to look charmingly rustic. This sort of affectation is also more common in Memorial as one gets closer to the Loop, ironically so—since as you move east on Memorial, you are moving deeper and deeper into Houston’s urban core.

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