Denver Harbor, Houston
Denver Harbor is a historic community located in eastern Houston, Texas, United States near the Houston Ship Channel. The community, bounded by Wallisville Road, the Houston Belt and Terminal Railroad, the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Port Authority Railroad, was first settled in the 1890s and platted in 1911 and 1913. The community includes many historic bungalow and cottage homes.
Denver Harbor is a mostly Hispanic community.
Denver Harbor was first settled in the 1890s and platted in 1911 and 1913. The four original subdivisions were: Denver, Harbor, Harbordale, and Liberty Heights. The names "Denver" and "Harbor" merged and became the name "Denver Harbor," which describes the entire community. Many early residents of Denver Harbor were Texans who left farms for the city neighborhood to make a better life for themselves and their families. These residents found work on the railroads and industrial companies that were established along the Houston Ship Channel. Greeks, Italians, and Poles settled Denver Harbor. The City of Houston annexed the Denver Harbor and Houston Harbor communities in 1929, adding 885 acres (358 ha) of land to the city limits.
On June 1, 1939, the word "Podunk" was mysteriously written on the side of the local water tower. The city tried repeatedly to cover over the word, however the name would always reappear within days. Inspired by the defiance of the sign's unknown painter, area residents soon began to identify as Podunkers. The names was adopted by a local youth basketball team known as the Podunk Skunks. The names, used in the 1930s and 1940s, was in reference to how Denver Harbor was considered to be "out-of-the-way." The slang became known after area children painted the word on a water tower. Jay Grady, an area resident, stated in a 2007 Houston Chronicle article that residents felt proud of the nickname since back then Denver Harbor was barely in the eastern city limits of Houston and that "it was kind of like living in the country rather than being in the city." Grady added that the community was "always been kind of a stepchild to the city of Houston, kind of a hardscrabble community, mostly blue-collar workers on the eastern edge of the city limits. We felt like we lived in the country rather than in town." As the population transitioned from working-class White Americans to Hispanic Americans the nickname was no longer used.
Dr. Jay Grady self-published 2,000 copies of his book Where the Hell is Podunk, Texas?, which is about Denver Harbor. In addition he lobbied to have Denver Harbor declared as the "official mythical town of Texas" due to the "Podunk" nickname. A Texas House of Representatives resolution that would have declared this was passed by the House and then rejected by most of the members of the Texas Senate, including Mario Gallegos, a Texas senator whose district includes Denver Harbor. In August 2007 Tropical Storm Erin flooded streets and houses in Denver Harbor. By 2008 residents from the area vocally opposed a perceived increase in crime.
Government and infrastructure
The city operates the Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center at 6402 Market Street. The city multi-service centers provide several services such as child care, programs for elderly residents, and rental space.
It is a part of Houston City Council District H. The City of Houston operates Fire Station 27. As World War II began, the city government was working on plans for Station 27. It opened at the intersection of Kress Street and Lyons Avenue in 1941. In November 2002 the groundbreaking for the current Station 27, larger than the previous one, occurred. A Community Development Block Grant funded the new station. It opened at its current location, 6515 Lyons Avenue, in May 2004.
The United States Postal Service operates the Denver Harbor Post Office at 5901 Market Street. In July 2011 the USPS announced that the post office may close. Some area residents criticized the proposed closure.
Parks and recreation
The City of Houston operates the Selena Quintanilla Perez Park-Denver Harbor, named after Selena Quintanilla, at 6402 Market Street. The park has a .87 mile hiking and bicycle trail, a volleyball court, a swimming pool, a playground, and a lighted sports field. The city operates the Selena Quintanilla Perez Community Center, which has a weight room, and indoor gymnasium, and meeting rooms, at the same address. Cliff Tuttle Park is located at 6200 Lyons Avenue. Santos & Esther Nieto Park is located at 500 Port Street.
The north-south Southern Pacific Transportation Company railroad tracks separate Denver Harbor from the Fifth Ward. David Benson, an assistant to Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee, described the railroad line as "a semi-permeable membrane." In the 1990s many Fifth Ward African-Americans went into Denver Harbor to shop at the area supermarket and stores, while the Denver Harbor Hispanics rarely entered the Fifth Ward.
Primary and secondary schools
Zoned elementary schools serving sections of the neighborhood include Eliot Elementary School, Raul C. Martínez Elementary School, Pugh Elementary School, and Scroggins Elementary School. All areas in Denver Harbor are zoned to McReynolds Middle School and Wheatley High School.
Eliot opened in 1926. Pugh received its name in 1952. McReynolds opened in 1957. Scroggins opened in 1968. Wheatley High School, in the Fifth Ward, was desegregated, Houston ISD rezoned Denver Harbor, which at that time had many White residents and was becoming Hispanic, to Wheatley. Many area Hispanic students preferred to attend Austin High School and Furr High School as they became the majority population at those schools. Even though Denver Harbor and the Fifth Ward are zoned to Wheatley, the areas are represented by different board members. Martínez opened in 1994.
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