What’s in a name? Dollar signs, apparently.
A mixed-use development making headway east of downtown Houston is billing itself as “East River” despite the fact it sits on the banks of Buffalo Bayou, which of course is not a river.
This geographical framing could be a simple marketing oversight.
Midway , the Houston-based firm behind East River, is known to have inaccuracies in its marketing material for the development, including renaming Buffalo Bayou as Buffalo River and misplacing the Heights on a map showing nearby attractions.
And make your own judgments on how else this “hipster guide to gentrification,” as State Rep. Gene Wu put it , portrays Houston and all it has to offer:
This map from the East River development is something pic.twitter.com/8ZowYHyWOY
— Jay R. Jordan (@jayrjordan) March 29, 2021
Leaning away from “bayou” and toward the word “river” is a marketing technique employed by Houston developers that dates all the way back to the city’s founding in 1836.
Brothers Augustus and John Allen settled at the confluence of Buffalo and White Oak bayous, which is present-day downtown. It was the perfect spot for an inland trade port – an eventual conduit between 17 railroads and the sea.
Houston’s success, however, came with a cost. According to a post in Houstorian, the brothers’ vision only came to fruition after taking editorial liberties when advertising Houston to prospective residents and industry leaders:
“Nature appears to have designated this place for the future seat of government. It is handsome and beautifully elevated, salubrious and well watered, and now in the very heart or centre of population, and will be so for a length of time to come,” an August 1836 advertisement in the Telegraph and Texas Register read.
They even described Houston as “located at a point on the river which must ever command the trade of the largest and richest portion of Texas.”
The artist’s rendition they commissioned made the budding metropolis look like a European city on a mighty waterway.
There were lies, truths and bold predictions that never panned out. Land developers in Houston are a lot of things, but unambitious isn’t one of them.
The payoff for selling Houston as a hilly oasis instead of a flattened mosquito den was great. Houston went on to become the bustling metropolis we know it to be.
Maybe this is why Midway is so hellbent on erasing the significance of bayous in the Bayou City. Think of all the money they stand to make on unsuspecting former Austinites wandering aimlessly down U.S. 290 hoping for delivery from the Californization of their city.
Or, again, maybe Midway is taking points from NIMBYs in River Oaks, who have also played up the neighborhood as a shady, river-y oasis.
Located at the corner of Hirsch Road and Clinton Drive, the East River development will feature new-age office space, luxury apartments, upscale retail spots and nightlife. It’ll also have a brand-new golf course that will become the fifth set of holes inside Loop 610 (all while Houston struggles to find adequate housing resources for our poorest neighbors).
Midway plans on spending $2.5 billion to create the development over the next two decades, according to R.A. Schuetz amd Katherine Feser in the Houston Chronicle.
At present, East River is essentially a marketing campaign in search of businesses and prospective residents.
Hopefully, those residents don’t care about upholding Houston’s identity. Otherwise, they’ll be sorely disappointed.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter: @jayrjordan
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Opinion: 'East River' pays homage to Houston's history of selling geographic lies have 733 words, post on www.chron.com at July 30, 2021. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.