Buffalo Bayou, a slow-moving waterway that runs through the center of Houston, is widely considered the city’s most significant natural resource. Over the past decade, the Bayou’s sector west of downtown has experienced renewed vibrancy as a result of placemaking interventions that created the 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park, which features trails, play areas, a dog park, pavilions, and gathering spaces for residents to build community. However, the neighborhoods along the waterway’s eastern sector have not seen the same level of investment. These historically disinvested, majority-Black and Latino or Hispanic neighborhoods—the Greater East End and Fifth Ward—have long been physically separated both from the Bayou and each other by large industrial sites, poor street linkages, and limited connections across the waterway.
Houston’s most significant natural resource, Buffalo Bayou, is increasingly accessible to locals and visitors alike, thanks to the efforts of Buffalo Bayou Partnership and funding from numerous public and private entities.
With a focus on revitalizing a 10-mile stretch of the bayou over the past 30 years, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) has already transformed sections of the bayou and its banks to create parks, trails, and bridges. Most recently, BBP renovated the 160-acre green space called Buffalo Bayou Park. The park features trails, a nature play area, dog park, performance pavilions, a cafe, and two visitor centers, which offer boat and bike rentals. Planning has begun for BBP’s next big project, the equitable development of Buffalo Bayou’s eastern sector. BBP is working with local partners to revitalize neighborhoods in the area, while celebrating their rich cultural and industrial heritage.
|Infrastructure Type||Waterfront / Waterway|
|Status||Open / Ongoing|
|Design Team||SWA, Page, Herves Descottes, Reed Hilderbrand, Lake/Flato, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, ISA, NADAAA|
Managed and operated by Buffalo Bayou Partnership in partnership with the City of Houston, Harris County, and Harris County Flood Control District
|Project Leader||Anne Olson|
Latest News / Buffalo Bayou
It’s really quite a lovely park, with features that check all the standard boxes: a playground, a gazebo with a big table, a soccer field, restrooms and water fountains, a paved trail that winds through the property, and lots of plain old green space. On a recent weekday afternoon, though, a visit to Tony Marron Park on Houston’s East End revealed a few glitches. The water fountains worked fine, but the restrooms were locked up tight. It took me a while to find a spot that offered a view of Buffalo Bayou, just north of the park. And on the nicest day in Houston since long-ago spring, the only visitors besides me were a dozen or so staff and volunteers with the Texas Organizing Project, clustered in the shade of the gazebo as they prepared for an afternoon of block-walking.
An ambitious plan to expand Buffalo Bayou Park eastward to East End and Fifth Ward neighborhoods will launch officially Monday with the announcement of a $100 million catalyst gift from the Kinder Foundation. Both the City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court are expected to sign off on final documents this week.