US 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin
Traveling east along Buffalo Bayou’s hike and bike trails, visitors enter one of Houston’s most historic and culturally rich areas. In 1914, the Houston Ship Channel opened to deep-water navigation. The channel, in combination with the railroads, transformed the area into the industrial heart of Houston. Today, Buffalo Bayou Partnership is working to bring new parks and trails, vibrant cultural destinations, affordable housing, and infrastructure improvements to the Greater East End and Fifth Ward neighborhoods in Buffalo Bayou East.
James Bute Park is the original site of Germantown and Frost Town, two early immigrant neighborhoods. In the 1970s, Houston artist Kirk Farris transformed the once-abandoned site into a park named for a Houston entrepreneur who lived nearby. A Texas Historical Marker displayed in the park officially designates Frost Town as a historic site.
McKee Street Bridge
Painted aquamarine, purple, and lavender, the nearby McKee Street Bridge adds a splash of color to the bayou landscape. Kirk Farris is responsible for transforming the bridge that was built in 1932 into a piece of public art.
This City of Houston park features green space, trails, and a boat dock alongside historic elements important to the East End community, including the Azios’ family fountain and Ely Escobar memorial tree, along with historic columns reminiscent of Mexico City’s colonial Zocalo architecture.
Several remnants of the East End’s industrial past can be found along the hike and bike trail. Just east of Jensen Drive, you will discover massive concrete gravel silos now owned by BBP. These tall structures are not only important interpretive landscape elements but the canvas for imaginative public art events.
Located halfway between Jensen Drive and North York Street, you will come across two brick chimneys. These are the remnants of a City of Houston incinerator built in 1925.
Central to the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan is the expansion of the City of Houston’s Tony Marron Park from 19 to nearly 40 acres. By 2026, the enhanced park will become the open space anchor for the area, providing residents with a wide range of activities and featuring improved sports fields, new nature play areas, and venues for special events and festivals.
Japhet Creek is a bayou tributary stretching north, deep into the Fifth Ward neighborhood. BBP has begun implementing the enhancements envisioned in the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan to revitalize this historic tributary with a native prairie, creekside nature trail, landscaping, lighting, and by 2027, a bayou-crossing pedestrian bridge connecting to Tony Marron Park.
On this site adjacent to Tony Marron Park, BBP is working with partners to create mixed-income and affordable housing that will be surrounded by more than six acres of new parks and trails. 80 multi-family units are currently under construction.
Decommissioned more than 20 years ago, much of the Northside Sewage Treatment Facility’s infrastructure remains. Aeration and settling tanks, compressor rooms, as well as original pipes and valves are intact. BBP envisions redeveloping the site into a major, regional destination.
This dramatic former industrial site along Navigation Boulevard at a stretch of the bayou called Turkey Bend will be transformed by BBP in the coming years into a unique recreational and cultural destination. Future visitors to the site will be able to congregate and relax along the waterfront, attend events and programs of various scales, and participate in boating activities.
Formerly an industrial property, this 10-acre site was transformed into a natural green space named in memory of Yolanda Black Navarro, a committed civic leader who served Houston for decades. The park features three wetland ponds with an overlook, cistern, native plantings, and footpaths throughout. BBP is working on connecting Yolanda Black Navarro Buffalo Bend Nature Park to the City of Houston’s Hidalgo Park to the east.
Open daily from dawn to dusk
Perhaps the finest example of textured concrete artistry in Houston, Hidalgo Park’s gazebo was completed in . Vidal Lozano, its designer and builder, fashioned concrete columns and railings to look like tree timbers, the roof to represent shingles, and the ceiling thatch. The gazebo is a landmark in the Buffalo Bayou landscape.
Built in 1932, Hidalgo Park is a popular East End site for Sunday picnics, birthday parties, and baseball games. Neighborhood children enjoy the park’s creative wooden playground and water play station. Among the park’s treasures is a statue of Father Miguel Hidalgo, a gift from the government of Jalisco, Mexico.
In 1837, the Allen brothers arranged for the Constitution, a 150-foot steamboat, to visit Houston to dispel doubts about Buffalo Bayou’s navigability. Not being able to turn around once it arrived at its destination, the boat backed down the bayou until it reached a wide enough bend. Dubbed Constitution Bend, the site is now the Port of Houston Turning Basin.
Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan
After two years of extensive community engagement, Buffalo Bayou Partnership launched a master plan for the waterway east of downtown Houston (from US 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin). Residents, community groups, and stakeholders from the Greater East End and Fifth Ward helped to envision transformative parks, dynamic recreational and cultural destinations, and connections into the surrounding neighborhoods. Through this process, the following core values emerged:
By 2032, Buffalo Bayou Partnership and its partners will realize the Buffalo Bayou East 10-Year Plan thanks to a $100 million catalyst gift from the Kinder Foundation, which leveraged significant public support from Harris County and the City of Houston, including Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone funds.
Major projects include:
- Expansion of the City’s Tony Marron Park from 19 to 40 acres
- Restoration of Japhet Creek to connect Buffalo Bayou to the Fifth Ward
- Extension of the bayou trail system from downtown into Buffalo Bayou East
- Addition of two bayou-crossing pedestrian bridges
- Transformation of Turkey Bend into a recreational and cultural destination
- Development of a mixed-income housing project
Buffalo Bayou Partnership continues to raise the remaining $46 million needed to complete the plan. For giving information, please contact Leigh McBurnett, BBP Vice President of Development, at 713.752.0314 ext. 105.
BBP’s development of the 10-Year Plan is also made possible by the early support of The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Cullen Foundation, Garver/Black/Hilyard Family Foundation, Houston Endowment, Inc., The Powell Foundation, The Wortham Foundation, and other generous donors.