Transportation

Walkers And Cyclists Head To The Fifth Ward For Sunday Streets

It’s the first time the historic neighborhood is hosting the event. A section of Lyons Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic so visitors can stroll and cycle.

For many years, the old DeLuxe Theatre stood dilapidated in in the middle of Houston’s Fifth Ward. Now it’s meticulously restored as the centerpiece of the historic neighborhood.

Under its Art Deco marquee we meet Kathy Flanagan Payton. She was born in the neighborhood and she now heads the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation.

“We have a bad history of being the toughest, baddest ghetto in Texas,” says Payton. “We’re tough, we’re bad, but in a different kind of way. What you’ll find here is a strong sense of family, a strong sense of community spirit.”

The Fifth Ward has been around since the mid-1800’s but it suffered a period of decline after it was split apart by freeway construction in the 1960’s.

Today there’s new interest in the neighborhood, and Payton says they’re working to balance development with the needs of longtime residents.  She says new money can bring in things they don’t have right now, like a supermarket.

“We have to have more rooftops,” explains Flanagan. With rooftops come people. When people come, pockets. The pockets that live here today cannot support these amenities. And so our goal is to find a balance.”   

Also involved in the neighborhood is Reverend Harvey Clemons Jr. of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. He says the Fifth Ward’s renewal isn’t just about buildings.

“But the attitude, the level of awareness of the community, the diversity of the community, and just a sense of consciousness about community duty and responsibility,” adds Clemons.

Hours for this weekend’s Sunday Streets are noon to 4:00 PM. Lyons Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic between U.S. 59 and Benson Street.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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