The city was developed in 1917 by Ben Hooper, a former Tennessee governor. The name "West University Place" originated from its proximity to Rice Institute, now known as Rice University. The first lots in the community were sold in 1917. Portions of West University were previously within the Harris CountyPoor farm, which extended from an area between Bellaire Boulevard and Bissonnet Street, eastward to an area near the "poor farm ditch."
In the 1920s, Lillian "Lilly" Nicholson, a Rice University English major, lived with a friend whose father was a city planner. The city planner asked Nicholson and her friend to name the streets of West University Place. Nicholson took names from her English literature book and gave them to the streets in West University Place. As a result, many West University streets are named after authors, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Dryden, and William Shakespeare. Cydney Mackey, a family friend of Nicholson, said in a Houston Chronicle article, "Aunt Lilly had always said she wanted to be an architect, unknown for women in that era, and this was her way of making a small but lasting mark on our city's landscape." One street, Weslayan Road, is a misspelling of "Wesleyan."
The city incorporated in 1924 because Houston was reluctant to extend power lines that far from the city center. West University Place, unlike Houston Heights, did not consolidate into the City of Houston. Because of the 1923 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate West University Place's territory into its city limits, while Houston annexed surrounding areas that were unincorporated. In 1939, the municipality refused to consolidate, later adopting a formal city charter the following year. The city had around 15,000 residents in the 1960s and the 1970s. The city had 12,714 people in 1990.
Prior to 1992 West University Place liberalized its development rules. This allowed developers to build new houses within the city. Don Stowers of the Houston Postsaid that West University Place changed from an "aging middle class neighborhood" consisting of mid-20th century bungalows and cottages to an increasingly wealthy community of "dare we say, young urban professionals in their austere red-brick Georgians." As new houses appeared, property values increased and the city began to get more tax money. Eventually, West University Place ran out of available lots, and its construction peaked. Area home buyers began to consider nearby Bellaire because it had more inexpensive and larger lots, and amenities described by Stowers as "comparable" to West University Place's amenities. In 2011 the group On Numbers ranked West U as the community in the Southern United States with the highest quality of life. it was later ranked number one in a comparison of regional winners.
The typical lot size in West University Place is 5,000 square feet (460 m2). The original housing stock of West University Place consisted of mid-20th century bungalows and cottages. Prior to 1992 the City of West University place liberalized its development rules, allowing for new houses to be built in the city. As lot sizes were typically about 50 feet (15 m) by 120 feet (37 m), the houses constructed were Georgian houses described by Don Stowers of the Houston Post as "lot hugging." Because nearby Bellaire had larger, more inexpensive lots, many area home seekers began to consider Bellaire. In a 15-year period ending in 2002 around half of the existing houses in West University Place were torn down and replaced with newer houses. In 2001 Katherine Feser of the Houston Chroniclesaid that houses selling for over $1 million ($1331892.5 in today's money) were common in West University Place.
One subdivision in West University is called "Rice Court", which is located north of University Boulevard and east of Buffalo Speedway. Rice Court once was distinguished by blue tile markers; the markers began to disappear around the 1990s. "Pemberton" is an area south of University Drive and east of Wakeforest Street. People living in the area were fond of restoration of older houses, and it includes some of West U's more expensive homes. There is another section called "Colonial Terrace" that is west of Weslayan Street and is near the railroad tracks. Originally it was the least developed part of West University Place. By 2000 this area was as built up and popular as other areas within West University Place.
There are a total of 26 sections or blocks within West University: College Court, Colonial Terrace, Fairview, Cambridge Place, Bissonet Place, Matthews Place, College View 4th, College View 2nd, College View 3rd, College View 1st, Cunningham Terrace, Sunset Terrace, Pershing Place, West U Place 2nd, West U Place 1st, Kent Place, Monticello, Rice Court, Krenzler Court, Evanstonm, Quenby Court, Tangley Place, Preston Place, Virginia Court, Pemberton, Belle Court.
From 1988 to 2003 the Friends of West University Place Parks Fund Inc., a volunteer board, and several West University-area businesses and residents raised $1.5 million to improve West University parks. The funds were collected to acquire additional green spaces and redevelop existing parks.
The first West University Place Recreation Center, formerly the Southwest YMCA, included a gymnasium, a swimming pool, and lighted sports fields. The City of West University had purchased the Southwest YMCA property around 2003. In 2008 residents approved a bond to build a new $8.8 million recreation center at a plot of land bounded by Bellaire Boulevard, Community, and Westpoint. The new recreation center does not have basketball courts. Russ Schulze, the chairperson of the Parks and Recreation department of West University Place, said that the city wants to construct a recreation center "for our residents, not something that will compete with nearby fitness centers or the Weekley YMCA, or to merely attract what residents outside West University want."
Colonial Park, at 4130 Byron Street, has a park and a recreational center. The park has a playground, a picnic area, two tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, a concrete walking path, and a pavilion. The center has a swimming pool, a weight room, a cardiovascular room, and racquetball courts. By 2003 Colonial Park had been enlarged and several facilities, such as a playground, pool, and tennis courts, had been added, due to efforts from the Friends of West University Place Parks and its allies. On May 11, 2009, the West University Place city council approved the design of the new Colonial Park pool, which was completed in 2011.
Friends Park, formerly the Rice Pocket Park, is located at 3771 Rice Boulevard. The park, the newest in the city, opened on December 11, 2007. Huffington Park, located at 3901 Milton Street, has a playground, a shaded arbor, picnic tables, and game tables. Whitt Johnson Park, at 6540 Wakeforest Street, has a playground, a gazebo, a picnic area, and a lighted basketball court. Judson Park, at 4242 South Judson Street, has a playground, a picnic area, a lighted tennis court, and a concrete walking path. Wier Park, at 3012 Nottingham Street, has a playground, picnic tables, two lighted tennis courts, and a basketball court.
West University Place has a Little League team called the "West University Little League". West University Little League was established in 1949, and is the largest Little League Baseball group in the United States, with more than 1,200 players, after merging with Braes Bayou Little League in 2005. Former first lady Barbara Bush threw out the first pitch on opening day 2005, in honor of the establishment of West University Little League's Challenger Division, which promotes opportunities for mentally and/or physically challenged children to participate in baseball games, many with the help of "buddies" who guide these players through the game. The West University Little League Challenger division sent one team to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for an exhibition game during the 2008 Little League World Series festivities.
Notable locations in this zip code not listed on our city pages:
Notable locations in zip code 77005: West Lot 1 (A), West Lot 2 (B), West Lot 3 (C), West Lot 4 (D), West Lot 5 (E), West Eleventh Place Historic District (F), Southside Place Fire Department (G), West University Place Fire Department (H), Southside Place Police Department (I), Rice College Masters House (J), Rice Memorial Center (K), Rice University Campus Observatory(L), Rice University Humanities Building (M), Rice University Police Department (N), Richardson College Masters House (O), Robert and Agnes Cohen House (P), Robert R Herring Hall (Q), Ryon Engineering Laboratory (R), Seeley G Mudd Computer Science Laboratory (S), Sewell Hall (T). Display/hide their locations on the map
Shopping Centers: Weslayan Plaza Shopping Center (1), Montclair Shopping Center (2). Display/hide their locations on the map
Churches in zip code 77005 include: Saint George Orthodox Church (A), Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (B), Rice Memorial Chapel (C), Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church (D), Palmer Episcopal Church (E), Christ the King Lutheran Church (F), West University United Methodist Church (G), Temple Emanuel Church (H), Maryknoll Fathers Church (I). Display/hide their locations on the map
Parks in zip code 77005 include: Cameron Field (1), Jake Hess Tennis Stadium (2), Rice University Track and Soccer Stadium (3), Reckling Park (4), Rice Stadium (5), Fleming Park (6). Display/hide their locations on the map
Tourist attraction (not listed on the city page) : Aquarium Environments Inc. (Aquariums; 2414 Tangley St).
Estimate of home value of owner-occupied houses/condos in 2011 in zip code 77005:
Houston Neighborhoods, Southampton, Southside Place, West University, Museum District, Avondale, Memorial Park, Rice Military, Heights, Timbergrove, Montrose, Upper Kirby, River Oaks, Braes Heights, Linkwood, Highland Village , Afton Oaks, Royden Oaks, Weslayan Plaza, Blvd Oaks, Broadacres, Southgate, Braeswood, Memorial, Tanglewood, Galleria, Briargrove, Westhaven, Woodlake, Briarmeadow, Energy Corridor, Fleetwood, Bay Oaks, Bellaire, Meyerland, Maplewood, Sugar Land, Spring Valley, Hedwig Village, Hunters Creek Village, Piney Point Village, The Villages, New Territory, First Colony, Sweetwater, Greatwood, Katy, Cinco Ranch, Kemah, League City, Clear Lake, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Pearland, 77004, BAILEY ED, 77005, SOUTHSIDE PLACE, WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE, SUNSET TERRACE, PEMBERTON, 77007, ARLINGTON TERRACE, GLEN COVE, TAYLOR DALE, CRESTWOOD, 77016, CRANFORD PLACE, 77019, AVALON PLACE, RIVER OAKS, RIVER OAKS COUNTRY CLUB, 77024, SHERWOOD FOREST, STABLEWOOD, MEMORIAL DRIVE MANOR, HEDWING, WILLOWICK, BAYOU WOODS, LONGWOODS, HUNTERWOOD, HUNTERS GROVE, TYNEWOOD, SANDALWOOD, TARA OAKS, LAKEVIEW, MEMORIAL TIMBERS, CREEKSIDE MANOR, PINE WOOD ESTATES, 77027, ROYDEN OAKS, OAK ESTATES, 77042, RIVERCREST, 77056, BAYOU GLEN (HOUSTON), PINE SHADOWS, WEST OAKS, TANGLEWOOD, TANGLELANE, BROAD OAKS, 77057, INDIAN TRAIL, 77063, PINEY POINT ESTATES, RIVERBEND, 77346, KINGS LAKE ESTATES, 77380, WOODLANDS - Lake Woodlands East Shore, 77382, WOODLANDS - Village Of Carlton Woods, 77401, BRAEBURN CC ESTATES, POST OAK PLAZA, 77459, WATERS COVE AT RIVERSTONE, 77479, AVALON, ENCLAVE AT WATERS OF AVALON
San Antonio Service Area - Northridge Park, Northwest San Antonio, Canyon Springs, Timberwood Park, Stone Oak