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Density Decoded

July 3, 2012

Population density in Houston is scattered and decentralized, it occurs in unusual places and is more often associated with 1970s garden apartments than traditional urban areas (meaning areas developed prior to the domination of the automobile).   Clearly, this is not a surprise, given that nearly 80% of our built fabric was constructed after World War II.  But it is time for decision-makers and leaders to recognize this phenomenon so that we can develop new ways to think about how we build more sustainable communities.  This means focusing efforts to create alternative pedestrian networks and rapid transportation lines where density can support it, assuring that areas are built or retrofitted to accommodate adequate parks and open spaces, and that economic and housing opportunities are supported equally across our city.  Below is a graph of population density by super neighborhood in 2000 and 2010.

The facts.  Of the ten super neighborhoods in Houston with the highest population densities six are located outside the loop—Gulfton, Westwood, Golfcrest/Reveille, Mid-West, Sharpstown, and Spring Branch Center.  The four densest neighborhoods inside the Loop are Pecan Park, Montrose, Museum Park, and Fourth Ward.  Below is the top ten list, in order beginning with the most densely populated:

  1. Gulfton (15,474 people/square mile)
  2. Pecan Park (10,205 people/square mile)
  3. Westwood (9,812 people/square mile)
  4. Golfcrest/Reveille (9,699 people/per square mile)
  5. Mid-West (8,881 people/per square mile)
  6. Montrose (8,855 people/per square mile)
  7. Museum Park (8,709 people/per square mile)
  8. Sharpstown (8,615 people/per square mile)
  9. Fourth Ward (8,437 people/per square mile)
  10. Spring Branch Center (7,508 people/ per square mile)

Note:  In Houston, the “Loop” roughly defines the center city from the periphery.

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