New METRO Bus Shelters Pay Tribute to Independence Heights’ Rich History
On June 30, METRO helped unveil the first four of dozens of new bus shelters designed in collaboration with the Independence Heights neighborhood. METRO partnered with Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros, community leaders, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and residents to celebrate the vibrant community and its rich history.
Independence Heights is a historically Black neighborhood located north of Loop 610 and west of I-45. In the early 1900s, it became the first city incorporated by African Americans in Texas.
"At METRO, we strive to invest in communities that we serve," said METRO Board Chair Sanjay Ramabhadran at the ribbon cutting event. "We are honored to make this investment, but also help share these special stories of perseverance and of the pioneers of Independence Heights."
Each bus shelter shares a piece of history and a QR code to encourage riders and pedestrians to visit the neighborhood’s website. At Airline and 34th, riders learn about Washington Stokes, an entrepreneur residents referred to as “the fruit man.”
The Fruit Man: The METRO bus shelter at Airline and 34th highlights Washington Stokes, an entrepreneur known as “the fruit man.”
The story of the three African American mayors of Independence Heights--George O. Burgess, O.L. Hubbard, and Arthur McCullough--are displayed at Main and 43rd Streets.
Other shelters share information about the establishment of the community and the first school for African Americans in Houston, a two-room building that was moved to the community from neighboring Sunset Heights in 1928.
"It is a project that has been a labor of love. When people are riding, they will see pictures of the first mayors, pictures of young people in the schools, pictures of the early businesses," said Tanya Debose, executive director of the Independence Heights Redevelopment Council.
The four shelters are located at:
- N. Main Street and 32nd Street
- N. Main Street and 43rd Street
- Airline and 34th Street
- Yale Street and Cockerel Street
METRO will continue to partner with the community for more designs, which will be installed over time.
Lasting Legacy: “When people are riding, they will see pictures of the first mayors, pictures of young people in the schools, pictures of the early businesses,” said Tanya Debose.