The Changing Face of Houston - The Montrose Then and Now

peepshow.jpg
Photo by Michelle Guillory
A recent remodel briefly exposed a long hidden reminder of the '70s era Montrose.
Houston always seems to be in a state of reinvention. It keeps this city an exciting place to live, but that state of flux can be difficult to get used to, as the character of some neighborhoods go through rapid transformations, being redeveloped as gentrification occurs and demographics change.

In recent years, this trend is no more obvious than in the city's Inner Loop neighborhoods. I grew up in Oak Forest, the Heights, and the Montrose, and those neighborhoods are dramatically different today than they were even 20 years ago. Of course, 20 years is a long time, and almost anyone would expect neighborhoods to change over the decades, but the process seems accelerated inside the Loop.

The Montrose in particular has gone through some major changes, and is continuing to transform into a neighborhood very unlike the one I knew as a teenager in the late '80s. Rather than make a judgment as to whether or not those changes are "good" or "bad," I'm more interested in looking at what's happening and why.

My Voice Nation Help
49 comments
Eunice DeOssio Salazar
Eunice DeOssio Salazar

As long as Numbers Houston is around it will always be Montrose! I miss Dream Merchant.

Camille Clifton
Camille Clifton

Montrose was always my reboot and refresh. I was only about to live there a short while. I worked at Texas Art for a while. When it became impractical to live there for me, I'd visit. The area made me feel more me, more centered, more focused, like I was able to expand my self to all parts that made me me. The things I used to do and places I loved going are mostly gone now. Memories of holes in the wall are just memories now. I'm glad I got to experience Montrose in such a way though. I'm grateful for those memories.

Theresa Jimenez
Theresa Jimenez

I had to move from my apartment at Montrose and Chelsea Blvd. last year because of the ongoing construction (Joy School, Blue Mambo) and because the surrounding "cookie cutter" townhomes drove up the rent in my small apartment building. It breaks my heart to see how Montrose is starting to look like every other inner-loop neighborhood. KEEP MONTROSE WEIRD!

Mark Campbell
Mark Campbell

You want to see the future of Montrose today? Just drive around south west Houston.

TonyCarroll BruceSmith
TonyCarroll BruceSmith

As a resident of Montrose since 1968, I am deeply saddened by the gentrification of the neighborhood. Although there is an exciting new population of sophisticated, open minded, well-educated people, there's also an influx of empty nesters who want to impose their pedestrian cookie-cutter neighborhood mores on Montrose.

chrislane
chrislane

For the record, lots of people call the area I wrote about "The Montrose", and have for as long as I can remember. For the purposes of this short article I used the term instead of "The Montrose Area" because the neighborhood is smaller than many people know.

Troyparker
Troyparker

Montrose is dead in my opinion.  In 1989 it was weird and affordable.  No more.  I'm still sad about it.  But one must move on.

djstu
djstu

Great article,but still a sad trend. Whereas I used to hear "I got priced out of Montrose" now I hear "I got cultured out of Montrose".

nevlec1
nevlec1

I can only speak for myself, but not having lived in Montrose yet growing up in Houston and being enchanged by its ecletic edgyness is what has always enamored me to the neighborhood. I imagine that's what is drawing a lot of folks there, a desire to be a part of a neighborhood with a unique charachter, albiet not the same one from the 70s and 80s, but still one a vibrant oasis of quirky playfullness. By the way - great to see Ray Hill posting up!

BryanTejas
BryanTejas

Us gays wanted to be assimilated in to mainstream society. Now that it has happened, we complain. Really no need for a Gayborhood anymore.

Ray Hill
Ray Hill

Changed? What change. This morning I had a cup of coffee (actually two) in the same place where I drank coffee more than 20 years ago. Then it was in my kitchen, today it is called Starbuckles or something but it is the very same spot near Hawthorn and Montrose. Four young men of assorted races sat at the next table, I understood little of what they said before they left on their skateboards. Things haven't changed too much.


Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Please, no more "The" Montrose. Just Montrose.

redaxe
redaxe

I spent a year living in Montrose in 94, working at a little woodshop called Wally world. It was a rag tag business and the guys working there made their dough selling pot and acid.

nacinla
nacinla

Every city changes; some, like Houston, faster than others. And it can be a good thing. And I have enjoyed watching Houston's meteoric growth since I left in 1981 ... until recently. Now when I visit family, I hardly recognize the neighborhood I grew up in (Montrose). Gone are the house I grew up in, and a duplex I owned, and in their place are now could-be-anywhere condos. And I think, I could be anywhere. I realize it's peeing in the wind to suggest that there could be more emphasis on preserving what's unique in a city where "new" is the primary value. And Houston is long past "charm." Still, for those of us who don't rejoice at the news of a new strip mall or WalMart or Super Target, it's disconcerting and alienating.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Montrose and Washington avenue are now ground zero for douche douchingtons.. Well written article Chris..

Brad Barber
Brad Barber

What I find funny is the article complains about the Montrose you moved to in the late 70s/early 80s is changing. Those of us living there in the 60s complained at the time about you new people moving in changing "our Montrose." Of course, when we moved in people complained about us ruining the neighborhood. It is all in the perspective.

Katrina Kidder
Katrina Kidder

Soooo sad. Leave Montrose alone. That's why there's Washington Ave.

ekhilton
ekhilton

I loved the history and thoughtful background included in this article, but it would have made for even more compelling reading had the author spent more time investigating the WHY of the matter.  What's happening in our local economy and culture that's spurring this change? Why now? Why not before? 

Julia Salazar
Julia Salazar

Westheimer Street festival in the 90s. Nothing better. Nice knowing you, old neighborhood.

Dodd Melcher
Dodd Melcher

I hate that this is happening to unique neighborhoods everywhere, but great article.

h_e_x
h_e_x

And the Soundwaves wall as well. I never understood why they got rid of it.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Kylejack Read this from the confines of your 3-4 story stucco monstrosity, it's just "Montrose". Stop prefacing.

eblfc
eblfc

I agree. Actually this was a pretty decent article, certainly miles better than the slideshow the chron would have offered in its place, but I wish it would have gone more in depth as to why, as well as looked closer on the pros and cons of the gentrification of Montrose.

h_e_x
h_e_x

Great festival, something that was available to everyone and not only those who can pony up hundreds of dollars for a ticket. The city seems hellbent on not allowing the street to be closed so it can happen again, damn shame.

Troyparker
Troyparker

that was probably the beginning of the end when that street fair ended

chrislane
chrislane

I don't have the exact address, but it is located on Richmond a few blocks from the Richmond/Montrose intersection. As I recall, one of the more recent storefronts was being partially demolished for an addition, and that peepshow facade was revealed behind it. I called a photographer friend of mine when I saw it, because it was obvious that it would be taken out within hours, and she rushed down and took that photo. Sure enough, all signs of it were gone by the next morning.

adslpx
adslpx

I also want to know where the old

peep show building was. I want to see it

Mr505
Mr505

@eblfc The effective lifespan of a house in Houston's climate is about 60 years. New townhomes may seem charmless, but there's lots to do in them besides looking through a window that needs to be replaced, or wondering how the roaches get in.

CR250
CR250

@eblfc 

Why...A simple real estate axiom, The Three L's...Location, Location, Location.  The demand to live closer in way outstrips supply, it is what it is, always will be.

h_e_x
h_e_x

@Troyparker Yup, the neighborhood was changing. Some locals didn't like it, and local politicians, including the current mayor, went ahead and delivered the deathblow in an attempt to curry favor with the condo-crowd, the same group of people who have a knack to ruining just about everything that makes any city great.

lwlamb
lwlamb

@chrislane Was it the Talk Of The Town place next door to Jackson's Watering Hole?  That place is still an adult movie/toy store.  I know they had a fire a while back.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Health & Beauty

Loading...