Neartown is an area located in west-central Houston, Texas and is one of the city's major cultural areas. The location has a distinctive character of eccentricity and a diverse population. The eastern–southeastern portion of Neartown is colloquially referred to as Montrose.
Neartown is bounded by U.S. Highway 59 to the south, Allen Parkway to the north, Bagby Street on the east, and Shepherd Drive to the west. Once a magnet for the hippie movement, the area's characteristics are similar to San Francisco's the Haight-Ashbury and the Castro.
The section of the Neartown area at Van Buren Street was the Houston Press 2002 "Best Hidden Neighborhood." 
Neartown is considered one of the eccentric and demographically diverse areas of Houston. In recent decades, the area hosts a significant community of young adults, gay men and lesbians, punk rockers, artists, as well as a vibrant thrift, vintage, and second-hand shopping area.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Neartown was known for its Bohemian flavor—this would spawn both the Westheimer Colony Art Festival in 1971 and the subsequent street fair in 1973, which would become known as the Westheimer Street Festival. Neartown, like Haight-Ashbury, is still a central location for teen runaways in the southeast Texas region. In recent decades, many young gay and lesbian runaways have made their way to Neartown.
During the 1990s through to recent times, this area has become increasingly gentrified with a trend towards remodeled and new homes, high rents, upmarket boutiques and restaurants. Neartown has become an eclectic niche market for office buildings in Houston, with both new development and redeveloped older buildings dotting Montrose Boulevard.
Additional neighborhoods in Neartown that have retained their original names include Courtlandt Place, Winlow Place, Hyde Park and Cherryhurst.
Houston's urban real estate boom starting in the 1990s transformed Neartown and significantly increased property values. The area around the intersection of Montrose Boulevard and Westheimer Road went from being a place with lots of abandoned buildings, sexually-oriented businesses, and low rent, to a neighborhood full of yuppies and new condominium construction. Inner Loop neighborhoods, despite the fall of Enron, have continued to be a prime market for redevelopment. This has increased interest in the area and pushed the median home price to $230,200 in 2005.
A majority of townhouses were built in the Midtown area east of Neartown; right before the Westheimer Street Festival's demise in the early 2000s, some Neartown residents have voiced their concerns about the festival affecting their quality of life issues, ranging from street parking to traffic gridlock.
From the United States Census 2000 demographics, about one-quarter of the residents are homeowners, whereas three quarters consists of renters: including many students from the University of Houston, Rice University, and the University of Saint Thomas, as well as for those employed in the Texas Medical Center, Downtown Houston, and Greenway Plaza. The area is also ethnically diverse, with primarily Latinos, Filipinos, and Whites living in the area.
The City of Houston's Planning Department refers to the Neartown area as a mixed-use community which serves as a model for other neighborhoods to follow. Since the 1990s gentrification, the demographics of those renting have changed; because of higher rent due to redevelopment, musicians and artists have been replaced with yuppies and professionals (attorneys, educators, medical professionals). Other Houston neighborhoods, such as Meyerland, Westbury, and Second Ward (east of Downtown Houston) have become popular places for the artistic and gay and lesbian communities to move when Neartown becomes too expensive. Twenty-three working artists reside in Neartown, according to a survey revealed in a November 12, 2006, Houston Chronicle article titled "An Artistic Movement."
Places of interest Edit
- Houston GLBT Community Center
- Pride Committee of Houston.
- The annual Houston Gay Pride Parade is usually held on the final Saturday in June (in some rare cases, around the weekend before or after June 23 to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots). Since 1997, the parade is held in the evening as a night parade.
See also Edit
- Neartown/Montrose at the official Houston web site
- Neartown Association
- Houston Chronicle Article on Montrose
- Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus
- Houston GLBT Community Center
- Gay/Lesbian nightlife guide to the Montrose area
- Avondale Association a neighborhood within Neartown
- Audubon Place Association a neighborhood within Neartown
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