Saturday, July 07, 2007

Houston Streets 5

Today’s ride was into the next Village, Piney Point. It lies just east of Bunker Hill. I rode mainly south of Memorial and partway north on Piney Point. The streets heading south from Memorial are especially interesting because they have properties that abut Buffalo Bayou. Needless to say, these properties are highly prized and very valuable. They are not without their drawbacks, though. Buffalo Bayou does flood occasionally, and the houses right along the bayou will get flooded first when that happens. Perhaps more dangerous for these property owners is that the Bayou’s banks are made of mud—they can gradually and sometimes abruptly shift, collapsing some of your property. I saw at least one driveway that had apparently dropped a few feet because of this. Most of the other bayous in Houston are channelized—lined with concrete. They don’t look very pretty, and apparently channelization causes some serious flooding dangers, but along them at least there is no chance that your bayou-adjacent property will become under-the-bayou property after the next big rainstorm.

One benefit (or drawback, if you are a gardener) of these big Bayou-adjacent properties is the presence of rabbits. I saw two on this ride. You don’t see them in most neighborhoods, but along the Bayou in Memorial, they are occasionally observed. My theory is that, unlike squirrels, they can’t survive the predations of housecats in most of Houston. After all, rabbits can’t scamper up trees and escape into the forest canopy. But along the bayou, there are few homes relative to the amount of possible rabbit habitat, and few homes mean few housecats.

Obviously houses on the bayou are valuable—inherently so because they are on large lots and are themselves large and fancy. But does being on the bayou itself add to the value of the house? Hard to say, but the houses along the bayou that I saw today ranged in value (according to Zillow, which is highly suspect when dealing with large, expensive, unique properties like these) from $804 thousand to $3.54 million.

Of special interest are the houses on the bayou on Windermere. Their properties are actually bisected by the bayou. This is one of those instances where I wish I could float down the bayou—to see if any of these home-owners have constructed bridges to connect the two sides of their properties. If they have not, the portions of their properties on the north side of the bayou must be pretty useless to them. (A quick look at Google Maps showed no bridges, but the forest cover is thick enough that I could have missed a bridge even if it was there.)

Here is the Bayou taken from the bridge over it at Piney Point. The normally torpid creek is high and rapid here, following several days of heavy rain.

Over on Arrowwood Circle, this is the entrance to an enormous estate. They really don’t want you bothering them. All the homes on Arrowwood are quite large (indeed, in Piney Point, houses range from large to mammoth). The Key Map of Arrowwood has an error. The north-south branch off the circle goes north towards the bayou, not south as shown on the map.

This house on Windermere seems to express one very important thing about its owner, which can be summed up with the phrase “I’M RICH!!” Well, it’s easy to point fingers, but I’m sure if I were rich enough, I’d show off in some way also—my tastes would be different (better, I hope—but what man doesn’t think his own tastes are better than his neighbors’), but I’d conspicuously consume with gusto, no doubt. I do like all the balconies, though. But I'd like them better if they had chairs on them.

Mott is one of those charming little cul-de-sacs that backs into the bayou. People here are wealthy and some are comfortable enough to display their wealth in their own unique ways. Like this faux bunkhouse for some very rich cowboy, complete with a metal trompe-l’oeil saguaro cactus in front.

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Right across the street from lonesome cowboy Bob is a house with a large pond (too big to fit in one shot and a gazebo.

Kinkaid is a private school nestled between San Felipe and the bayou (on land that is worth millions). I was amazed to discover that the school, which educates some of the brightest offspring of Houston’s elites, is over 100 years old. For an institution to be that old in Houston is rare. They haven’t always been at this location, though—indeed, for much of the 20th century, that location would have been absurdly remote and undeveloped. Until 1957, they were at the corner of Richmond and Graustark—now the location of an adult bookstore!

When I was in high school, I was acutely aware of Kinkaid because they were always in competition with us for most National Merit Semifinalists (along with St. Johns, an elite Episcopalian school).

The sculptural installation here was erected in 2006 in honor of Kinkaid’s 100th year.

This little monument is both touching and kind of weird—who works as a crossing guard for 44 years?!

I was amazed to stumble across this apparently abandoned property on Ames Circle. The house is partially boarded up and crumbling, the pool is filled with silt, and the fountain, which must have been quite elegant at one time, is falling apart. Zillow estimates the value of this property at $1.48 million.

Skipping north of Memorial, this house is on Quail Hollow (which is the street that connects by footpath only to Blalock). Behind this undulating wall is a home so immense that I could not fit it into one photograph. Indeed, everyone on Quail Hollow shares at least one attribute—wealth. Zillow rates every house on Quall as being worth at least a million dollars and up to $3.19 million (the one pictured here, I believe).

These wooden signs are common in the neighborhood. Most frequently, you see Memorial High School signs (it being the nearby public high school), and less frequently St. Thomas and Strake Jesuit (both Catholic). I haven’t seen any yet for Kinkaid or St. Johns.

This unusual castle on Shady Glenn looks strong enough to repel bandits, marauders, Moors, and neighboring noblemen with ease.

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Anonymous captain said...

Cool! I grew up wandering the grounds of the Taylors' property, now patrolled by armed guards!?!?

9:53 PM  

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