City in a City: Community Identity and Houston’s Sprawl

Houston community historians explore the unique, independent towns and developments that became “cities in a city,” including Southside Place, Bellaire, Houston Heights and more. This course is hosted by Jim Parsons of Preservation Houston.

Red Heights marquee sign in Houston

In its early days, Houston was a compact city surrounded by other communities, each with its own distinct history and identity. But as the Bayou City began to spread across the coastal plain in the 20th century, the landscape changed. Some of the neighboring towns were swallowed up by annexation, others took measures to remain independent and some communities were developed specifically to set themselves apart from ever-expanding Houston. This course explores a selection of towns and developments that have become “cities in a city,” including Southside Place and Bellaire as well as historic Harrisburg and Houston Heights, both of which were annexed into Houston. We’ll also examine River Oaks, a neighborhood that was never an independent city itself, but developed a distinct identity thanks to careful planning and marketing. The stories of these communities have become the story of Houston—and understanding them helps us make sense of the city’s urban sprawl.


Section Instructor Format Schedule start date
GHUM1404.F17.1 City in a City Instructors On-campus 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Instructor: City in a City Instructors

Oct. 4. Annexation and Urban Expansion: An Overview of Houston’s Growth. Jim Parsons, director of special projects, Preservation Houston

Oct. 11. Southside Place. Kate McCormick, J.D., author and co-founder, Southside Place Preservation Project

Oct. 18. Houston Heights. Anne H. Sloan, M.A., author and Heights historian

Oct. 25. Bellaire. R.W. McKinney, II, historian and president of the Bellaire Historical Society

Nov. 1. Harrisburg. Mary Vargo, Harrisburg historian

Nov. 8. River Oaks. Stephen Fox, lecturer, Rice University School of Architecture and Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, University of Houston and Fellow of the Anchorage Foundation of Texas

Term: Fall 2017

Start Date: Oct. 04, 2017

End Date: Nov. 08, 2017

Schedule: 7-8:30 p.m.

Length: Six Wednesdays

Location: Rice campus

Fee: $200

Early Registration: $190 if registering by Sept. 20

Rice Alumni: $180

CEUs: 0.9

Note: This course is not currently accepting registrations. Please select VIEW CURRENT OFFERINGS to see similar classes offered by Community Programs.

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