Houston Matters

Why an arrow shape frequently appears when you map certain factors in Houston

If you map environmental factors, race, politics, and other indicators in Houston, you often end up with an arrow shape. What is “the “Houston Arrow” and what does it tell us about resources and policies in our city?


Why does an arrow shape frequently appear if you map certain factors in Houston?


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="https://embed.hpm.io/456596/456639" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

If you map all sorts of things within Houston's city limits, a shape has a tendency to form. It looks like an arrow. Really – try it out. Look at environmental factors, race, politics, all kinds of things, and the "Houston Arrow" takes shape again and again.

It begins on the city’s west side, starting from somewhere around the Barker and Addicks reservoirs, including neighborhoods south of I-10 and north of the Westpark Tollway and I-69. The arrow points toward downtown with the northernmost tip in The Heights and the southern tip around West U. and Rice Village.

In 2021, One Breath Partnership, a group made up of Rice University and a number of environmental organizations, collaborated on a project examining the concept of the Houston Arrow. That effort yielded a four-part series of articles edited by Allyn West, who's with the Environmental Defense Fund. Evan O'Neil developed the visualizations within those articles.

In the audio above, we talk with them, and with Zoe Middleton, director of community affairs and advocacy for Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis. Middleton was quoted in the articles.

We discuss the concept of the Houston Arrow, examples of the kinds of data that, when mapped, reveals the shape, what it may represent in terms of inequities across the Houston area, and what, if anything, to do about it.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

More Information

Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen

Executive Producer & Host, Houston Matters

Craig Cohen is the executive producer and host of Houston Matters, which airs weekday mornings at 9:00 on Houston Public Media, News 88.7 FM. Craig is a 20+ year veteran of broadcast journalism. He's spent the bulk of his career in public media, in roles ranging from programmer and manager,...

More Information