Alief is a community in Harris County, Texas, United States that is mostly within the city limits of Houston. The Alief Community Association defines the boundaries of Alief as, "Westheimer on the north, Sam Houston Tollway on the east, Fort Bend County Line on the west and Highway 59 on the south," while the Alief Independent School District boundaries extend as far east as Gessner in some places. Portions of Alief are in Southwest Houston while portions of Alief are withinunincorporated Harris County.
|Community of Houston, Texas|
|Motto: “The friendliest, most diverse community in Houston.”|
In 1861, Reynolds Reynolds claimed 1,250 acres (5.1 km2) of land near Brays Bayou. The land was sold to Jacamiah Seaman Daugherty in 1888 and in the following year, he allowed the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway to build on his land. Daugherty sold his land in 1893 to Francis Meston who planned to engineer a community. Daugherty stayed to oversee land sales in Meston's Houston office. In 1894, the community was surveyed and recognized by Harris County. Surveyors named the town Dairy, Texas. The first two town settlers, Dr. John S. Magee and his wife, Alief Ozelda Magee, moved from Ellis County to Dairy the same year.
Alief Ozelda Magee, acting as the town's first postmistress, applied to open the firstpost office in 1895. On August 16, 1895 the post office opened. The postal service referred to the office as "Alief" in her honor to help avoid confusion with mail intended for the similarly named town of Daisy, Texas. The site of the post office, which was operated from her home, was honored with a Texas State Historical Marker in 1990. The marker (number 10644) is located on the south side of 7th Street between F Street and G Street.
Meston deeded property to Dr. John S. Magee, Newton Gentry, and Hardy Price for use as a cemetery in 1900. Alief Ozelda Magee, who died in 1899, is buried in the cemetery.The cemetery is located at what is now the intersection of Bellaire Blvd. and Dairy Ashford.The Texas Historical Commission recognized Alief Cemetery with a historical marker (number 10589) in 1984.
The Flood of 1899 and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 destroyed the Methodist Episcopal Church along with the town's cotton and corn crops, forcing 24 of the 30 families that resided in Alief to relocate. The town reverted to prairie and wolvesopenly roamed during daytime. Daugherty found a positive side to the flooding; He persuaded the remaining six families that rice was better suited to grow in Alief's flood plains than previous crops and spent his own money to help cultivate the first rice crops. Daugherty succeeded: his rice became an instant cash crop that persuaded many to return to Alief. In 1901, Alief's first immigrant families, a small group of Germans arrived. In 1904, the majority of those who had left in the wake of the 1900 hurricane returned. The rapid growth period created a commercial district along the railroad tracks, convincing the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railway to construct a depot.
Due to its propensity for flooding, the citizens established the Harris County Flood Control District in Alief in 1909. The chairman of the Harris County Drainage District was Daugherty. Trustees S.B. (Shorter) Burleson and Will and Eddie Garmond for the Prairie Grove Missionary Baptist Church purchased land in 1910 which would later become the church's home. The historic African American church's congregation met in the home of S.B. (Shorter) Burleson before the construction of the sanctuary. Credit for the church's name is primarily attributed to Mamie Burleson. In 1911, the Dairy School District was established and a three-story school was built.
The town was officially renamed "Alief, Texas" in 1917 and the Dairy School District became the Alief Independent School District (Alief ISD).
Automobiles arrived in Alief by 1920. The sanctuary for Prairie Grove Missionary Baptist Church was constructed between 1921 and 1922. The Cane Belt Canal, which "ran from the Brazos River, eight miles north of Richmond, through Alief and south to Alvin," according to the Westchase District, was completed in 1934. Daugherty promoted the canal, which was used for irrigation by rice farmers. The year after the canal was completed, Alief obtained electricity.Education in Alief was segregated. From 1927 to 1937, African American children used Prairie Grove Missionary Baptist Church's sanctuary as a schoolhouse. Previously, African American children attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. Alief ISD's three-story schoolhouse was condemned in 1939, and its students attended classes in a nearby building until a new school annex was added in 1940. Also in 1940, Melissa Outley died. Melissa Outley was married to David Outley. He was the first African American educator in Alief. Hers is the first known burial in Prairie Grove Cemetery, which was adjacent to Prairie Grove Missionary Baptist Church. The church's sanctuary was demolished in the 1940s as attendance fell. Alief Community Church first opened its doors in 1941. Population fluctuated wildly, ranging from a low of 35 in the 1930s to 200 by 1942. Population fluctuated wildly, ranging from a low of 35 in the 1930s to 200 by 1942. Alief acquired telephone service in 1943. E.W.K. "Andy" Andrau opened Andrau Airpark in 1946. In 1964, Alief ISD built its oldest remaining school, Alief Elementary School (later renamed for teacher Cynthia Youens). By the same year, oilman Robert E. "Bob" Smith owned 11,000 acres of land including what is now the Westchase area.
In 1970, Alief was still primarily pastureland and major thoroughfares, such as the Sam Houston Tollway, were still gravel roads. The 1970s were a prosperous time for Houston, and Alief continued to grow as people came to the area in search of housing. Houston began expanding westward with the development of River Oaks and Memorial, and the trend continued to Alief. Many of the new residents were low-income apartment dwellers. The community's population increased by a factor of four between 1970 and 1985. Between 1980 and 1985, approximately a third of the population growth experienced by Harris County occurred in the southwest quadrant of the county bounded by the Katy and South (288) freeways, with Alief accounting for half of that, or one-sixth of the overall growth of the county during that five-year time frame. The Alief Independent School District struggled to find room for all of the new students.
As the population of Alief increased in the 1980s, the community began to diversify. In 1978, close to 80% of the people in the community were white. Less than 4% of the people in the community were African American. The shift was primarily for socio-economic reasons. Many low-income Spanish-speaking immigrants settled in traditionally low-income areas of Houston inside Loop 610. Many African-Americans who could afford to left traditional African-American neighborhoods to move to Alief and other parts of Southwest Houston during the 1980s. White people who could afford to move to newer suburbs further from Houston than Alief began to leave the community. In addition, many people of Asian ancestry settled in Alief, Sharpstown, and Westwood, creating one of the largest Asian-American concentrations in Houston. Southwest Houston's Asian population included mainly immigrants from China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam,Cambodia, and Korea. In addition, Southwest Houston became home to many people from Taiwan, the Philippines,Japan, Laos, and Indonesia.By the late 1980s, white students accounted for less than half of the students enrolled in Alief ISD.
Crime began to increase during the 1980s in Alief as well. The murder count in Houston surpassed the 700 mark in 1981. Drug trafficking became more common in the 1980s. Although the Houston Police Department had downplayed the existence of criminal gangs in the city, Westside Tactical Unit Officer R.L. Spurgeon revealed in a 1988Houston Chronicle interview that the Los Angeles Crips were attempting to recruit the loosely formed Alief Gangsters.Later the same year, the Houston Chronicle reported that although there were many gangs in Houston, several were in the Alief area, and that some Alief youths claimed to be Crips or Latin Kings. According to Police Chief Lee P. Brown, Houston's gang problem was smaller in scale than other major U.S. cities had at the same time.
In addition changes in population and demographic, the community underwent several other important changes. Robert E. "Bob" Smith died in 1973, and his widow sold 760 acres of land to the Westchase Corporation which began developing theWestchase District. Houston began annexing Alief in 1977. The City of Houston voted to annex the Alief-Fondren area on November 23, 1977. In 1978, Brown and Root built a large engineering complex at the corner of Bellaire Blvd. and Beltway 8. Houston continued to annex pieces of Alief into the 1980s. West Oaks Mall opened in 1984 and was annexed by the City of Houston the same year. The community feared that annexation would lead to neglect by Houston's government and protested further annexations. Despite these efforts, Houston succeeded in annexing most of the area.Agriculture began to fade. The last cotton gin in Alief closed in 1976,and the area ceased growing cotton altogether by 1982. Alief was one of the last places where cotton had been grown in Harris County. Dairy, cattle, vegetable production, and rice production also declined. Urban development took the place of agriculture. In the spring of 1985, Houston Fire Station #76 was opened to serve the Alief area. The Alief Branch Library (since renamed the David M. Henington-Alief Regional Library) was also opened in 1985. As a sign of the community's growing diversity, the Houston Chronicle noted that the library staff spoke, "a variety of languages, including Hindi, Mandarin Chinese and Farsi," when the library first opened. West Houston Medical Center was constructed in 1985 as well.The Alief General Hospital building was abandoned. The Fame City entertainment complex and water park (which later became Fun Plex and Adventure Bay) held its grand opening in 1986. Fame City featured roller skating, movie theaters, a sound studio, miniature golf, bumper-cars, bowling, alley, games, rides, an arcade, restaurants and shops indoors, and a 10 acre water park outdoors. The Alief Brown and Root building closed in May 1987, but was reopened in November 1988 when the industry saw increased growth. Andrau Airpark was sold to the Camden Trust in 1988, although the airport continued to operate.
Public school students in Alief are served by the Alief Independent School District(Alief ISD). To enroll in Alief ISD, students must present a state-certified birth certificate (prekindergarten and kindergarten students must have an original birth certificate), their most recent report card, immunization records, two proofs of their residence (which can be in the form of a deed, lease, bank statement, and/or most recent utility bill), the student’s social security number. A parent/legal guardian must accompany children under the age of 18 who wish to enroll and the parent or guardian must present his or her photo ID. The district offers prekindergarten to children meeting set criteria. To qualify for enrollment in a prekindergarten program, children must be 4 years old by the district's cut-off date. Children also must be either unable to speak or comprehend English or come from families which have a household income at or below the subsistence level as defined by the State Board of Education. Students between the ages of 5 years old and 21 may attend kindergarten through twelfth grade in the district. In addition, students who are between the ages of 21 and 26 may attend high school in the district to complete their high school diploma requirements.
As of 2011, the Alief Independent School District has 24 elementary schools.Youens Elementary and Chancellor Elementary go all the way to fifth grade,however most students are also zoned to an intermediate school for fifth and sixth grade. The district has six intermediate schools as of 2011. Students attend middle school for the sixth through eighth grades. The district has six middle schools as of 2011. High school students in Alief ISD are assigned by lottery to either Alief Elsik High School, Alief Hastings High School, or Alief Taylor High Schoolduring October of their eighth grade year. They can also choose to apply for admission to Alief Kerr High School. Students selected to attend Hastings High School attend the Hastings Ninth Grade Center during their ninth grade year, and students selected to attend Elsik High School attend the Elsik Ninth Grade Center during their ninth grade year. In 2010, the district opened an additional high school in partnership with Houston Community College. The Alief Early College High School allows students to take courses for dual credit and graduate with both a high school diploma and the equivalence of an associate degree at the same time. Admission to the Alief Early College High School is by application only.According to the Houston Chronicle, admission to the school is not based on ability, rather, "Students who will be selected are mostly under-represented at four-year colleges or will be the first in their family to attend college." The district also has two alternative schools.[The Alief Learning Center has its own campus,while the Crossroads/ Night High School/ LINC/ SOAR (Crossroads) meets in the annex between Hastings and Elsik. The Crossroads program is designed for "at-risk students with discipline problems who are behind in academic credit and are at risk of not graduating from high school," as well students who are pregnant or parenting, emancipated minors, and students who have failed the TAKS/ TAAS tests.
In addition to school campuses, the district has several other facilities for students, staff, and administrators. The Leroy Crump Stadium is home to many athletic events. The Steven Lloyd Ness Natatorium, located on High Star across the street from the Elsik campus,houses the districts swimming pools. The district administration offices are on High Star.The maintenance office and nutrition annex are on High Star as well. The district bus depot is on Synott. The district has its own police force. The police station is located on 12135 1/2 High Star. The police force enforces the district's "Zero Tolerance" policy.
Charter schools are an alternative to public school education. The schools are partially funded by taxpayers and are not allowed to charge tuition. The schools enjoy more freedom of administration than public schools. They are not affiliated with local school districts.
Alief Montessori Community School is a charter school which offers prekindergarten through the fifth grade followingMontessori philosophy. Students are typically between 3 and 12 years old. The school was ranked among the top schools in the Houston area in 2011. The school has also been a Texas Exemplary School and a recipient of the Honor Roll School Award from the Texas Business and Education Coalition.The school is located at 12013 6th Street.As of July 2011, the school is undergoing an expansion. Groundbreaking on the expansion was held on March 26, 2010.
In 2011 he nonprofit Children at Risk ranked the school among the ten best Houston area elementary schools. During that year, its per-pupil spending was $3,587, one of the lowest in the area.
Two Harmony Public Schools charter schools are in Alief (when Gessner is considered the boundary line for Alief). They are: Harmony School of Innovation, which offers grades K-8, and Harmony Science Academy High, which offers grades 9-12.
KIPP: the Knowledge Is Power Program operates charter schools which serve Alief. They include: KIPP SHINE Preparatory, which instructs prekindergarten through grade 4, KIPP Academy Middle School, which instructs grades 5-8,and KIPP Houston High School, which instructs grades 9-12.
Christ the Lord Lutheran School is located at 4410 S. Kirkwood Rd. The school instructs preschool through the eighth grade as part of the 4th largest private/parochial school system in the United States, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). The school has been in operation since 1972.
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory is located in proximity to Alief.
The Houston Community College System (HCCS) has served the Alief area since 1982. The HCC Alief Campus, a part of the Southwest College, is located at 2811 Hayes Road in the Westchase area of Houston. The HCC Alief Continuing Education Center is located at 13803 Bissonnet Road in anunincorporated area in Harris County. In 1982, HCCS expanded classes to Alief Elsik High School. In 2001, HCCS opened the Alief Center on Bissonnet. In 2007, the new Alief Campus in Westchase opened. In 2008, the former Alief Center became the Continuing Education Center.
Alief is served by both the Houston Public Library and the Harris County Public Library.
The David M. Henington-Alief Regional Branch of Houston Public Library is in Alief. The branch is located at 7979 South Kirkwood Street and was originally named the Alief Branch Library when it opened in 1985. The library was later named for David M. Henington, who served as the Director of the Houston Public Library for 26 years.
The Houston Public Library system had a holding of 3,951,035 in the 2008 fiscal year and an average daily circulation of 18,205. The library system offers wireless internet service as part of the City of Houston WeCan initiative. The library also offers e-books (including Kindlecompatible e-books) through partners netLibrary and OverDrive, as well as electronic journal collections. In addition, the library participates in the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) program. City of Houston residents can apply for a free library card (called a Power Card) in person at any location with a valid photo ID.
Residents of Alief may obtain library cards for the Harris County Public Library system at no charge by filling out an application and showing proof of their address.The library system has an annual circulation of over 10 million items.The collection, which had 2,312,482 items in the 2009 fiscal year, contains books, videos, CDs, DVDs, eBooks, electronic resources, and online databases. The library system also participates in the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) andTexShare programs.The Harris County Public Library system has 1,000 computers available to the public. It also has laptops that can be checked-out. The libraries have wireless internet service. Kurzweil technology, which is used to aid the visually impaired use electronic resources, is also available in the libraries.The Harris County Public Library System has 26 branches, although none are in the Alief area.
The Alief Community is home to public parks maintained by Harris County, public parks maintained by the City of Houston, and private parks and venues.
Harris County operates parks throughout Alief which is in Precinct 3. Harris County parks are maintained by the Precinct's Parks Division.
Harris County operates the 11-acre (45,000 m2) Alief-Amity Park at 12509 Alief Clodine Road with a .17 mile trail. In 1975, the county acquired what is now the park site from the Cloud family. The park was dedicated in the early 1980s.
Harris County operates the 1.25-acre (5,100 m2) Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Park at 4025 Eldridge Parkway. This park includes a .6 mile trail. Located on part of a Harris County Flood Control District site acquired in 1988, the park opened and was dedicated on June 11, 1999. It was named after Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston bishop Joseph Fiorenza.
In addition, the county operates the 175-acre (0.71 km2) Arthur Storey Park at 7400 West Sam Houston Parkway South (Beltway 8). In August 1995, the Harris County Flood Control District began acquiring land along the Brays Bayou, and in October of that year it agreed to allow the establishment of a park, called Brays Bayou Park, along that property. The commissioner's court voted to rename the park in January 1997 after Arthur L. Storey Jr., who worked for the Harris County Flood Control District. Storey is credited with "modernizing and streamlining the county's flood control district operations while simultaneously considering [the district's operations'] environmental implications." The park opened and was dedicated on September 26, 1997.
Mike Driscoll Park is a 46-acre (0.19 km2) park located at 13534 West Houston Center Blvd. (the street formerly known as Old Westheimer Rd.) along the Westpark Tollway and Alief-Clodine Rd. The park hosts a playground and a 1.13 mile asphalt walking trail.
The City of Houston operates parks in the annexed portion of Alief. City of Houston parks are maintained by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
Alief Community Park is located at 11903 Bellaire Blvd. on the southwest corner of Bellaire Blvd. and Kirkwood Rd. The park was acquired by the City of Houston in 1993. The City of Houston purchased the park, which is the former Quillian Memorial Center, from the First United Methodist Church of Houston for $3.5 million. The city originally named the park Southwest Park, but changed the name to Alief Community Park in 1997. It is home to Alief Community Center and Alief Pool. The park also boasts basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, playgrounds, paved trails, and multi-purpose fields.In addition, groundbreaking took place on June 25, 2011 for a new hike and bike trail funded by a Texas Department of Transportation grant. The park is a 37.3-acre (0.151 km2) property. In May 2011, the city announced that it was closing Alief Pool due to budget cuts, however corporate donors, Marathon Oil andConocoPhillips, agreed to sponsor the pool.
Boone Park is located at 7700 Boone Rd. It was created by the City of Houston in 1984, and has since been improved by the city, oil companies, and volunteers. The parks amenities include a 1.06-mile walking trail system,cricket field, playground, picnic pavilion, and multi-purpose fields, as well as a nature preserve recognized by the Texas Forestry Department.
Hackberry Park is located at 7777 S. Dairy Ashford.The park features a nearly mile-long outer-loop trail. In addition, the park has a community center, a sprayground, and a playground. The park is the former home of Hackberry Golf Course and rests on a 22.5-acre (0.091 km2) piece of land. The park was acquired in 2007 and was dedicated two years later on March 21, 2009. The cost to acquire the property was $5 million.
Harwin Park is located at 11305 Harwin and contains multi-purpose fields, a trail system, and a playground. The park is a 8.3-acre (0.034 km2) area property and was established in 1989.
Private parks and venues
Fun Plex is an indoor entertainment facility located at 13700 Beechnut St. in Alief. The venue features, roller skating, bowling, a ferris wheel, a two-story playport, bumper cars, go-karts, and an arcade. The company's website claims that the facility is the largest indoor entertainment facility in Texas, measuring 5 acres.Visitors may pay for each attraction individually or purchase a package entry to multiple attractions.
Royal Oaks Country Club is located at 2910 Royal Oaks Club Dr. It and the surrounding Royal Oaks Community was built on the old Andrau Airpark. The country club has a clubhouse, golf course, fitness center, tennis center, aquatic center with pools and a water park, the Palm Grille restaurant, and a child care area. The country club was developed by the Sunrise Colony Company.
The Lunar New Year Festival is an annual event which was first held in 1996. The event has featured dancing, cooking, and a beauty contest. The festival claims to be the "largest international celebration in the southwest."
The International Parade was first held in 2008. The parade is held annually near the end of September. The parade strives to include many different ethnic groups and promote the diversity of the community. The route travels down Bellaire Blvd.