- West University Place, Texas
City of West University Place — City — Coordinates: Coordinates: Country United States State Texas County Harris Government – Mayor Bob Kelly (elected in 2007) Area – Total 2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2) – Land 2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2) – Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2) Elevation 49 ft (15 m) Population (2000) – Total 14,211 – Density 7,068.6/sq mi (2,729.2/km2) Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6) – Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5) ZIP code 77005 Area code(s) 713 FIPS code 48-77956 GNIS feature ID 1349820 Website http://www.westu.org/
West University Place, often called West University or West U for short, is a city located in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area and southwestern Harris County, Texas, United States. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the population of the city was 14,211. The city is nicknamed "The Neighborhood City" and the city is mainly a bedroom community for upper-middle class families.
West University Place is completely surrounded by the city of Houston. The United States Postal Service even uses "Houston" as the city designation for all West University Place addresses, although the actual name of "West University Place" is also acceptable.
As of 2000, West University Place is the 8th wealthiest location in Texas by per capita income. West University continues to develop as one of the most desirable and affluent parts of the Houston area.
Almost all streets in West University Place are allusions to universities, colleges, and poets throughout the United States and the world.
The city was developed in 1917 by Ben Hooper, a former Tennessee governor. The name "West University Place" originated from its proximity to Rice University. The first lots in the community were sold in 1917. In the 1920s, Lillian "Lilly" Nicholson, a Rice University English major, lived with a friend whose father was a city planner. The city planner asked Nicholson and her friend to name the streets of West University Place. Nicholson took names from her English literature book and gave them to the streets in West University Place. As a result, many West University streets are named after authors, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Dryden, and William Shakespeare. Cydney Mackey, a family friend of Nicholson, said in a Houston Chronicle article "Aunt Lilly had always said she wanted to be an architect, unknown for women in that era, and this was her way of making a small but lasting mark on our city's landscape." One street, Weslayan Road, is a misspelling of "Wesleyan."
The city incorporated in 1924 because Houston was reluctant to extend power lines that far from the city center. West University Place, unlike Houston Heights, did not consolidate into the City of Houston. Because of the 1923 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate West University Place's territory into its city limits, while Houston annexed surrounding areas that were unincorporated. In 1939, the municipality refused to consolidate, later adopting a formal city charter the following year. The city had around 15,000 residents in the 1960s and the 1970s. The city had 12,714 people in 1990.
Prior to 1992 West University Place liberalized its development rules. This allowed developers to build new houses within the city. Don Stowers of the Houston Post said that West University Place changed from an "aging middle class neighborhood" consisting of mid-20th century bungalows and cottages to an increasingly wealthy community of "dare we say, Young Urban Professionals in their austere red-brick Georgians." As new houses appeared, property values increased and the city began to get more tax money. Eventually West University Place ran out of available lots, and its construction peaked. Area home buyers began to consider nearby Bellaire because it had more inexpensive and larger lots, and amenities described by Stowers as "comparable" to West University Place's amenities.
West University Place is located at .(29.715929, -95.432992)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2), all of it land.
The city's boundaries are: Kirby Drive to the East, Union Pacific St. Louis Southwestern Railway railroad track to the West, Bellaire Boulevard/West Holcombe Boulevard to the South, and Bissonnet and Law Streets to the North. Viewed on a map, the city shape resembles a little house, with a "chimney" to the West side, and since it surrounds the City of Southside Place, a "door" is formed on the map surrounding Southside Place. (See map.)
The original housing stock of West University Place consisted of mid-20th century bungalows and cottages. Prior to 1992 the City of West University place liberalized its development rules, allowing for new houses to be built in the city. As lot sizes were typically about 50 feet (15 m) by 120 feet (37 m), the houses constructed were Georgian houses described by Don Stowers of the Houston Post as "lot hugging." Because nearby Bellaire had larger, more inexpensive lots, many area home seekers began to consider Bellaire. In a 15-year period ending in 2002 around half of the existing houses in West University Place were torn down and replaced with newer houses.
One subdivision in West University is called "Rice Court", which is located north of University Boulevard and east of Buffalo Speedway. Rice Court once was distinguished by blue tile markers; the markers began to disappear around the 1990s. "Pemberton" is an area south of University Drive and east of Wakeforest Street. People living in the area were fond of restoration of older houses, and includes some of West U's more expensive homes. There is another section called "Colonial Terrace" that is west of Weslayan Street and is near the railroad tracks. Originally it was the least developed part of West University Place. By 2000 this area was as built up and popular as other areas within West University Place.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,211 people, 5,286 households, and 4,059 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,068.6 people per square mile (2,729.8/km²). There were 5,543 housing units at an average density of 2,757.1 per square mile (1,064.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.37% White, 0.50% African American, 0.07% Native American, 4.74% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.72% of the population.
There were 5,286 households out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.0% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.2% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the city the population was spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 2.9% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 29.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $130,721, and the median income for a family was $157,312. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $65,739 for females. The per capita income for the city was $69,674. About 0.9% of families and 1.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.
Claudia Feldman of the Houston Chronicle described West University Place as a "wealthy city inside a city" and "a tidy, orderly community, one where furniture matches, bills get paid and accomplished parents raise accomplished children." John Nova Lomax, a journalist, stated in a 2008 Houston Press article that, due to the growth and dominance of Houston, municipal enclaves with their own services, including West University Place, "are little more than glorified neighborhoods."
Government and infrastructure
The city of West University Place operates under the Council-Manager form of government. The council contains the mayor and four city council members. The city council, elected on a non-partisan basis, is elected during the first Saturday in the May of every odd-numbered year. Each member serves a term of two years. Members may serve for not more than two successive terms in each office. The council enacts legislation, adopts budgets, establishes policies and appoints the city manager, city secretary, city municipal court judges, prosecutors, and clerks.
The City Council appoints the city manager to carry out the operations of the city. The city secretary maintains ordinances, resolutions, meeting minutes, and legally required publications. The city attorney gives the city council general counsel, litigation, contract review, and ordinance review. West University Place's sewage treatment plant and animal pound are located on a lot in Houston.
The West University Place Fire Department is headquartered at 3800 University Boulevard. Adam Ohler, a firefighter at the department, said in a 2009 Texas Monthly article that the pace of work in the department is "a lot slower than in other city stations—certainly slower than the Provo Fire Department, where I moved from, or some of Houston's units, whose guys run twenty to thirty calls a day." The West University Place Police Department is headquartered at 3814 University Boulevard.
The city enforces a ban prohibiting drivers around West University Elementary School from talking on mobile phones during school zone hours. AT&T tried and failed to persuade the city to not apply the ban. The West University City Council voted 5-0 to establish the ban; a person who violates the ban gets a $500 United States dollar fine.
County, state, and federal representation
West University Place is located in District 134 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008 Ellen Cohen represents the district. West University Place is within District 17 of the Texas Senate.
West University Place is in Texas's 7th congressional district; as of 2008 John Culberson is the representative. The closest United States Postal Service office is the Weslayan Post Office at 5340 Weslayan Street, Houston, Texas, 77005-1048.
West University Place is a member city of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO). The city is served by bus lines 2 (Bellaire), 17, 18 (Kirby Limited), 65 (Bissonnet), 68 (Brays Bayou Crosstown), and 73 (Bellfort Crosstown).
Parks and recreation
The first West University Place Recreation Center, formerly the Southwest YMCA, included a gymnasium, a swimming pool, and lighted sports fields. In 2008 residents approved a bond to build a new $8.8 million recreation center at a plot of land bounded by Bellaire Boulevard, Community, and Westpoint. The new recreation center does not have basketball courts. Russ Schulze, the chairperson of the Parks and Recreation department of West University Place, said that the city wants to construct a recreation center "for our residents, not something that will compete with nearby fitness centers or the Weekley YMCA, or to merely attract what residents outside West University want."
Colonial Park, at 4130 Byron Street, has a park and a recreational center. The park has a playground, a picnic area, two tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, a concrete walking path, and a pavilion. The center has a swimming pool, a weight room, a cardiovascular room, and racquetball courts. On May 11, 2009, the West University Place city council approved the design of the new Colonial Park pool. Friends Park, formerly the Rice Pocket Park, is located at 3771 Rice Boulevard. The park, the newest in the city, opened on December 11, 2007. Huffington Park, located at 3901 Milton Street, has a playground, a shaded arbor, picnic tables, and game tables. Whitt Johnson Park, at 6540 Wakeforest Street, has a playground, a gazebo, a picnic area, and a lighted basketball court. Judson Park, at 4242 South Judson, has a playground, a picnic area, a lighted tennis court, and a concrete walking path. Wier Park, at 3012 Nottingham Street, has a playground, picnic tables, two lighted tennis courts, and a basketball court.
Primary and secondary schools
Pupils who live in West University Place are zoned to West University Elementary School in West University Place, Pershing Middle School  in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston, and Lamar High School, in the Upper Kirby district of Houston. All pupils zoned to Pershing may attend Pin Oak Middle School (in the city of Bellaire) instead. Pin Oak was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2008.
West University Place is in close proximity to The Rice School, a kindergarten through 8th grade magnet school in Houston. The Rice School opened in August 1994 to relieve West University Elementary School and several nearby campuses.
Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Center is the closest public early childhood center to the city of West University Place. Only economically disadvantaged students, homeless students, students who are not proficient in English, or children of active-duty members of the U.S. military or whose parent has been killed, injured, or missing in action while on active duty. Students who are eligible for HISD's preschools may attend any Early Childhood Center in Houston ISD. Beehive, a preschool located on the grounds of West University Elementary, serves many pupils from West University Place, Southside Place, and other communities.
St. Mark's Episcopal School (K-8) is the sole private school located within West University Place. Other nearby parochial schools and private schools include the School of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in Braeswood Place in Houston, St. John's School in Houston, Episcopal High School in Bellaire, St. Francis Episcopal Day School (Texas) in Piney Point, and The Post Oak School in Bellaire.
Colleges and universities
West University Place is also served by Houston Community College System.
The Harris County Public Library system operates the West University Branch Library in West University Place. The library opened in a section of the West University Community Center in 1942. As World War II continued the library was moved into the Reed and Yancey Realtors field office. After the war ended the library moved back into the community center. The current 6,100-square-foot (570 m2) library facility opened in 1963.
The West University Buzz is a monthly magazine mailed free of charge to all residents. The West University Buzz is about people, products and services in the community.
The Village News is a local newspaper distributed in the community.
The closest mainstream movie theater to West University Place is the Edwards Theatres Grand Palace 24 in Upper Kirby.
The closest YMCA is the Weekley Family YMCA in Houston's Braeswood Place neighborhood. The Weekley Family YMCA used to be in a complex owned by West University Place. The complex is now the West University Place Recreation Center.
West University Place has a little league team called the "West University Little League". West University Little League was established in 1949, and is the largest Little League Baseball group in the United States, with more than 1,200 players, after merging with Braes Bayou Little League in 2005. Former first lady Barbara Bush threw out the first pitch on opening day 2005, in honor of the establishment of West University Little League's Challenger Division, which promotes opportunities for mentally and/or physically challenged children to participate in baseball games, many with the help of "buddies" who guide these players through the game. The West University Little League Challenger division will send one team to Williamsport, PA for an exhibition game during the 2008 Little League World Series festivities.
- Craig Biggio, Retired Baseball player for the Astros
- Rafael Espada, as of 2008 the Vice President of Guatemala.
- Ken Hoffman (Houston Chronicle columnist)
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- ^ a b c d West University Place, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
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- ^ de Jesus Ortiz, Jose. "BASEBALL PREVIEW 2007 / The homestretch to 3,000 / Craig Biggio has missed a lot of family time during a big league career that began in 1988. So it will be an extra-special moment when his wife and three children are on hand for a milestone hit." Houston Chronicle. Sunday April 1, 2007. Special, Page 2.
- ^ "Former West U resident next Guatamalan VP," West University Examiner, November 14, 2007
- ^ Hoffman, Ken. "WiFi service, with a side of pulled pork." Houston Chronicle. Wednesday September 8, 2010. Retrieved on November 20, 2011.
- West University Place Website and City History
- Friends of West University Place Parks Fund, Inc.
- Newcomers and Neighbors Club
- West University Little League
- West University News
- West University Place, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown Counties "Principal" cities Other cities
Alvin • Angleton • Bellaire • Clute • Deer Park • Dickinson • Freeport • Friendswood • Galena Park • Humble • Jacinto City • Katy • Lake Jackson • La Marque • La Porte • League City • Missouri City • Pasadena • Pearland • Richmond • Rosenberg • South Houston • Stafford • Texas City • West University Place
- For a complete listing, see list of cities and towns in Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown MSA
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