Several minor bayous run through the community, including Brickhouse Gully, Spring Branch (the neighborhood namesake), and Briar Branch, which drain into Buffalo Bayou in central Houston. Spring Lake is a large pond near the center of the neighborhood.
The 1,400 square feet (130 m2) plot pictured here has the graves of nineteen members of the Hillendahl family, including one who was interred in 1854. A descendant of the family sold all of the land around the grave site, but refused to move the actual graves.
Spring Branch began as a religious Germanfarmer settlement; many of the farmers owned dairies. Karl Kolbe, who arrived in Texas from Germany in 1830, was Spring Branch's earliest settler. The Germans opened sawmills to cut area timber. In 1848, St. Peter's United (Lutheran) Church opened on a site donated from the Bauer family; the lumber used in the construction originated from one of the local sawmills. The Spring Branch School Society, sponsored by the church in 1856, would eventually become the Spring Branch Independent School District.
After World War IIJames E. Lyon served as a developer in Spring Branch. In the mid-1950s, efforts to create a Spring Branch municipality failed. Following this, the Memorial villages, a group of six independent municipalities, formed. Houston annexed the rest of the Spring Branch area. In the mid-to-late 20th century, Spring Branch had a rural suburban character with dirt roads and horses in the area. Spring Branch Elementary School, one of several area elementary schools, was an all-White elementary school.
Apartment complexes opened in the Spring Branch area around the 1970s. In 1982, the City of Houston Housing Authority proposed a $3.8 million U.S. dollarpublic housing unit at Emnora Lane. The city encountered strong opposition from civic clubs, city council members, and state representatives, so the city housing officials canceled the project. The sign used by the city to indicate the proposed site repeatedly received spray paint graffiti stating "no niggers."
By the 1980s, Houston's economy had collapsed and occupancy rates declined. Many apartment complexes faced foreclosure, bankruptcy, and changes in ownership. Bill Zermeno, a city electrical inspector, said in a 1988 Houston Chronicle article that many of the apartments with some of the strongest violations against maintenance-related city laws were in Spring Branch. Kim Cobb, the author of the 1988 Houston Chronicle article, said that many of the poorly maintained complexes were located next to well-maintained single family subdivisions.
From the 1980 U.S. Census to the 1990 Census, many Hispanics settled in parts of Spring Branch; in pockets of Spring Branch almost all of the immigration was from Central American countries. The Hispanic population increased by an amount between 1,000 and 3,500 per square mile. In 1997 S.D. Kim, the Houston bureau chief of The Korea Times, said that Koreatown, the Korean community in Spring Branch, grew because of inexpensive housing and the zoning to the Spring Branch Independent School District. In 1998 and again in 2001, a proposal to place Korean language street signs in Koreatown lead to political controversy; the reaction against the proposal lead to the withdrawal of the proposal. By 2006, Spring Branch Elementary School was mostly Hispanic, reflecting demographic changes in the Spring Branch area.By 2007 several older houses were torn down and replaced with newer houses; new homeowners came to Spring Branch to buy larger lots, to buy in an area cheaper than neighborhoods bordering Downtown Houston. New residents came due to the proximity to Downtown, Uptown, and the Energy Corridor.
In May 2011 the Spring Branch Central Super Neighborhood campaigned against having federal funds used to improve older apartment complexes in the area.
John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press said that Spring Branch has many "old-school ethnic eateries" and described Long Point Road, Spring Branch's main road, as "thrift store nirvana". The journalist added that Long Point has few chain businesses and stores.
Between the 1990 U.S. Census and the 2000 U.S. Census, as Spring Branch gained many Hispanic and Korean residents, many White residents left. Nestor Rodriguez, an immigration expert from the University of Houston, said that the white population of Spring Branch implied that many were leaving not because of racial differences but because the new residents were not middle class. Rodriguez said "They don't say they're not middle-class, but they say, well, look at them, they're out on the street corners looking for work; we're not used to that. But those are characteristics of working-class or lower working-class people."
In 2000, the City of Houston's Super Neighborhoods located all or in part within Spring Branch reported the following population statistics:
The district includes parks operated by the city government and the county government.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department operates municipal parks within the Spring Branch Management District. Agnes Moffit Park, located at 10645 Hammerly Boulevard, has a swimming pool and a golf course. The R.L. and Cora Johnson Park is located at 9791 Tanner Road. The adjacent R. L. and Cora Johnson Community Center, located at 9801 Tanner Road, has a 0.25 mile hike and bicycle trail, a playground, an outdoor basketball pavilion, and lighted tennis courts. The park was originally known as the Carverdale Park; it was renamed in January 2009 after some civic leaders. Freed Park and Community Center is located at 7020 Shadyvilla Lane. The park has an indoor gymnasium, a .35 mile hike and bicycle trail, a playground, a lighted sports field. Schwartz Park is located at 8203 Vogue.
Harris County Precinct 3 operates the county parks. The 13-acre (53,000 m2) Nob Hill Park, located at 10300 Timber Oak Drive, has a 0.59-mile (950 m) walking trail, a picnic, a playground, a gazebo, and a softball field. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Spring Branch Pocket Park, located at 1700 Campbell Road at Spring Branch Drive, has a 0.057-mile (92 m) trail, a playground, and a gazebo. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Housman Pocket Park, located at 6705 Housman Street, has a 0.12-mile (190 m) trail, a playground, and a gazebo. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Moritz Pech Family Park, located at 1493½ Moritz Drive, has two playgrounds and a 0.22-mile (350 m) granite jogging trail. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Creek Pocket Park, located at 1701 Creek Drive, has a 0.068-mile (0.109 km) trail.The 0.21-acre (850 m2) Bracher Pocket Park, located at 1507½ Bracher Street, has a 0.057-mile (92 m) gravel trail, a playground, and a gazebo. The 0.65-acre (2,600 m2) Bauer Pocket Park, located at 2201 Bauer Road, has a 0.1-mile (160 m) trail. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Gessner Pocket Park, located at 1610½ Gessner Drive, has a 0.025-mile (40 m) trail and a playground.