Recording: Houston’s Wards: Then and Now


Why in Houston do we refer to certain neighborhoods as “wards”? The six wards as they exist today no longer describe voting districts but rather cultural designations. Each ward exemplifies elements of urban strength and vulnerability, and each has evolved distinctly as a result of transportation, land ownership, employment opportunities, and population.

FEBRUARY 27 (Zoom): In the leadoff to this course, architectural historian Stephen Fox will provide an overview, charting the evolution of the term “ward” from an 1839 political boundary, through its demise as a description of governance in 1905, and into its current use.

MARCH 1 (Full Day Tour): Our first visit on the full-day tour by motorcoach of the Third Ward will begin at Texas Southern University where we will meet with museum curator Alvia Wardlaw and view a multimedia installation by artist Nathaniel Donnett. The day will end with a talk and tour of Project Row Houses and refreshments at its recently renovated Eldorado Ballroom. In between, our tour will encompass several sites relating to the establishment of Emancipation Park (1872), life in the Third Ward during segregation, the Civil Rights era, and the current balancing act of preserving the neighborhood as it gentrifies. Lunch will be provided. Tour fees are non-refundable.

MARCH 22 (Half Day Tour): We will meet at the African American Library at the Gregory School to begin our half-day walking tour of the Fourth Ward. Curator Danielle Burns Wilson and photographer Earlie Hudnall, Jr. will have a conversation, presenting some of Hudnall’s powerful images of life in the Fourth Ward (see image above, “Flipping Boy”, 1983). Neighborhood guide-activist Charonda Johnson will lead us on a walking tour that will incorporate the burial place of the Allen Brothers, the Freedmen’s Town Museum, and end with a meal at a private home. (Friday, March 29, 10:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M. rain date). Tour fees are non-refundable.