First Ward, Houston
The First Ward of Houston, which is located inside the 610 Loop, is one of the city's historic wards. It was originally the center of the business district for the city, and was strategically located at the intersection of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou, near an area now known as Allen's Landing. It was one of the original four wards in Houston when it was created in 1840. It was defined as all area within the city limits of Houston (which was much smaller at the time) north of Congress Street and west of Main Street.
In 1866 First Ward land to the north and east of White Oak Bayou and Little White Oak Bayou was split off to create part of the Fifth Ward. Just prior to the abolition of the ward system in 1915 the Woodland Heights neighborhood was constructed in what was then the northwest corner of the ward, just north of White Oak Bayou.
In 1987, Kim Cobb of the Houston Chronicle said "It's hard to find any vestige of the old First Ward, since it's covered by downtown office buildings." In 2006, the last remaining houses of a former residential neighborhood were vacated and bulldozed, replaced by the 23-acre (9.3 ha) Sawyer Heights Village, a shopping center that includes a Target. Part of the remaining 19th and 20th century bungalows and cottages was named the High First Ward Historic District in 2014. The rest of the residential sections of the ward have seen construction of numerous lofts and townhomes in the 21st century.
Government and infrastructure
The former Jefferson Davis Hospital was located in the First Ward. It was built on the site of a former Confederate cemetery, so rumors that the hospital was haunted existed. Rod Davis of the San Antonio Express-News said in 2003 that "[p]ickup trucks from a nearby construction site are parked out front, and the grounds are littered with broken bottles. Perhaps fitting for a city that lacked any black council members from the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s until court-ordered redistricting in the 1970s. " The hospital building is now artist housing.
The Houston Amtrak station and Downtown US Post Office are located within the boundaries of the ward. The Houston Fire Department houses fleet maintenance and arson investigation facilities on Dart Street.
The First Ward is within the Houston Independent School District; the part of the First Ward not within Downtown is zoned to Crockett Elementary School, Hogg Middle School, and Reagan High School.
Hawthorne Elementary School used to serve the First Ward; it opened in 1893, replacing Houston Avenue School (which was later known as the First Ward School), and closed in 1959. Richard Brock Elementary School opened on the former Hawthorne site in 1967. In 2006 it was converted to the Crockett Early Childhood Center. Crockett took the attendance territory formerly held by Brock.
The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is a four-year state university, located within the historic First Ward. Founded in 1974, it is one of four separate and distinct institutions in the University of Houston System. UHD has an enrollment of 12,900 students—making it the 13th largest public university in Texas and the second-largest university in the Houston area.
- Cobb, Kim. "Move afoot to train Houstonians to erase `ward' from vocabularies." Houston Chronicle. Saturday June 6, 1987. Section 1, Page 27. Retrieved on October 20, 2011.
- Spivak, Todd. "Brave New World: A Heights family is targeted in the name of progress." Houston Press. April 13, 2006. Retrieved on February 12, 2013.
- http://www.houstontx.gov/histpres/archives/fs/HighFirstWard.html High First Ward Historic District established.
- Davis, Rod. "Houston's really good idea Bus tour celebrates communities that forged a city." San Antonio Express-News. Sunday August 3, 2003. Travel 1M. Retrieved on February 11, 2012.
- "Crockett Elementary School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 29, 2010.
- "Hogg Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 29, 2010.
- "Reagan High School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 29, 2010.
- "School Histories: the Stories Behind the Names." Houston Independent School District.
- "Brock EL Boundary Map." Houston Independent School District. April 13, 2002. Retrieved on November 29, 2010.
- "Texas Higher Education Enrollments" (PDF). Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Feldman, Claudia. "Houston's First Ward is flourishing, but not without some friction." Houston Chronicle. April 23, 2014.