West U & Southside Place
Two neatly bordered square miles in the southwest of Houston’s inner loop belong to the city of West University Place. Completely surrounded by Houston, West U has maintained its charming neighborhood feel through the decades. Its tree-lined streets mark one of the wealthiest communities in the state and one of the most desirable zip codes in Greater Houston.
Former Tennessee governor Ben Hooper saw great potential in the city of Houston when he purchased what would become West University Place with the idea of creating a community of country homes. West University was named for its proximity to Rice University and many of its streets are either literary nods or named after prestigious universities across the nation. In 1939, the residents of West U refused to consolidate with Houston, and in 1940, a formal City Charter was adopted.
West U is served by the Houston Independent School District. Students in the area are zoned for West University Elementary, Pershing Middle School, Pin Oak Middle School, and Lamar High School. Notable alumni include Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child, actor Dennis Quaid, and actress Farrah Fawcett.
One of Houston’s original shopping centers, Rice Village, lies just east of the neighborhood. The heart of the shopping district is approximately ten blocks, though the total area has naturally grown to more than 300 shops within 16 blocks. The area combines higher-end retail with smaller local boutique stores, creating a unique atmosphere for shoppers and diners.
A lot of flavor is packed into this small neighborhood. One family favorite is Little Matt’s, which offers generous portions of Tex Mex and American fare, as well as an impressive candy bar and Icee machine. For an upscale brunch by a neatly manicured lawn, head to Tiny’s No. 5., located in the building that was once the JMH No 5. Grocery Store. If you’re looking for a quick and exotic escape, dip into Under the Volcano, a Mexican-inspired dive.
Twilight Epiphany Skyspace
Make any day a special experience with a visit to James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany. A slowly changing light sequence frames the Houston sky at dawn and dusk each day. Sitting underneath the 72-square-foot roof presents an opportunity for internal reflection or appreciation of the sky’s natural beauty.
Even with limited space, the Parks and Recreation Department of West U has made public outdoor spaces a priority. There are currently 8 park systems throughout the neighborhood. Together they offer a variety of tennis courts, basketball courts, playground equipment, walking trails, picnic facilities, and more.