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SUNNYSIDE, HOUSTON. Sunnyside is a predominantly African American super neighborhood located in southern Houston just outside of Loop 610 and off State Highway 288. This geographic area consists of five neighborhoods: Sunnyside Place, South Loop Industrial Park Area, Brookhaven, Sunnyside Court, and Sunnyside Park. Sunnyside Place, in the northwestern part of Sunnyside, is the oldest neighborhood as well as the oldest African-American community in south central Houston and began in 1912 when H. H. Holmes platted land that was at that time located in a rural area outside of the city of Houston. Development consisted of homes. The Brookhaven neighborhood was platted in 1943 as a residential development, while Sunnyside Court began as a series of small subdivisions during the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1952 Sunnyside formed its own water district, and a $1 million water and sewer project began to serve more than 2,000 homes in Sunnyside Place. During the 1940s and 1950s, the area gained a volunteer fire department, paved roads, and gas and heating services. The Brookhaven neighborhood was annexed by the city of Houston in 1949, and the other Sunnyside neighborhoods were annexed in 1956. Upon annexation, the water district was dissolved. By 1970 the population of Sunnyside was estimated to be approximately 11,200. South Loop Industrial Park was largely an industrial area that also included vacant tracts of land. In the southwest region of Sunnyside, Sunnyside Park, originally a landfill, was converted to a 285-acre park in the 1970s. Locally-owned businesses served the area, and Sunnyside was part of the Houston Independent School District.
Throughout the later twentieth century and into the early twenty-first century, the Sunnyside population has remained approximately 90 percent African American, with more than 50 percent of the population living in low income households. The oil bust of the 1980s led to economic decline that by the early 2000s had led to school closures, increased crime, and unemployment. In 2012 the total population was 19,980, and the region contained a mix of early frame houses, small churches, boarded-up businesses, as well as vacant tracts.
Local leaders attempted to revitalize parts of the super neighborhood with new developments, and much of the credit for the neighborhood improvements was due to the efforts of the Sunnyside Place Community Development Corporation (CDC), headed by St. Paul Baptist Church pastor, Reverend James Nash. Pastor Nash, who grew up in Sunnyside, established the CDC and has been pivotal in creating partnerships with the Houston Police Department, the Houston Food Bank, and with the City of Houston Community Development Department to help create a sustainable and safer community. In 2016 area leaders committed to improving the greater Sunnyside community, which became a part of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone number 26 (TIRZ #26).
Houston Chronicle, September 24, 2016; June 16, 2017. “Sunnyside Working Plan,” City of Houston Planning Dept., 1974, African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library. Super Neighborhood Resource Assessment: Sunnyside, City of Houston Planning & Development Department (http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Demographics/docs_pdfs/SN/71_Sunnyside.pdf), accessed August 4, 2017.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Marcia Johnson and Laurie E. Jasinski, "Sunnyside, Houston," accessed February 24, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hpsun.
Uploaded on August 16, 2017. Modified on August 29, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.