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Neighborhood Guide: Greater Third Ward, Houston

By: Miyan Benita
July 2, 2019

Living in Greater Third Ward

The vibrant, eclectic neighborhood of the Greater Third Ward in Houston has seen rapid growth over the last few decades. Known as a historic civil rights-focused neighborhood, the Greater Third Ward blends a landscape of historic homes, businesses, and modern development. From gathering in Emancipation Park to where to shop, here’s what you need to know about Greater Third Ward.

Know the History

In 1837, Houston was incorporated into six different wards, and the third ward was initially called the Silk Stocking District. The neighborhood later became a central location for the civil rights movement in Houston. In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was welcomed in this area to speak on racial inequality. The music roots are important here as well. This neighborhood is home to Sugar Hill Recording Studios where Big Bopper recorded and is Beyonce’s childhood home as well! This area is oozing with history and culture.

Look to the Future

Today, Houston’s Greater Third Ward has become an increasingly diverse and rapidly changing neighborhood. At the end of 2018, the state historical commission selected Emancipation Avenue as a Texas Main Street. This was the first time the commission selected a street in a major city for the program. The program helps restore historic streets to help attract more businesses and boost the economy. Historic preservations blend with new development to create that highlights the best of both worlds. 

Find a Greater Third Ward Apartment

As a historic Houston neighborhood, the Greater Third Ward offers a mix of old homes and modern apartments. The neighborhood is situated southeast of downtown with easy access to Texas Southern University and The University of Houston. You’ll find plenty of students call ing this neighborhood home. 

To get an overview of the neighborhood, its significant landmarks, and to experience the changing landscape for yourself; join 3rd Ward Tours with Let’s Do This Houston. This local bike ride will take you around the neighborhood and help you get to know the lay of the land. If you are looking for a place to call home, check our listings in the Greater Third Ward neighborhood. 

Consider the Kids

A variety of public and charter school options serve the Greater Third Ward neighborhood. The main two are Houston Independent School District and the University of Houston Charter School, among others. 

Families gather at the 10-acre Emancipation Park, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Go for a stroll, let the kids run wild on the playground, organize a game of softball on the fields, and enjoy the splash pad and public pool.

Stroll the Market

Come out and meet your neighbors at Free Market Square. Shopping from a variety of local vendors at this community market on a Saturday morning is a local favorite.  On the third Saturdays of the month, Free Market Square ignites the neighborhoods and supports the local business district with free family-friendly events and performances. 

Getting around the Neighborhood

Get around the Third Ward by car, public bus, or the relatively new Houston's METRORail. If you’re making your way to downtown Houston, the city authorized a $6 flat taxi fare for all trips in the downtown area to pprovide residents with options 

And although it's not available within the Third Ward, locals can purchase a membership to the local Wave jitney service. This connects primary nightlife areas including Midtown, Montrose, Downtown, Uptown, Rice Village, and the Washington Avenue corridor. The Jitney can be ideal if you plan to hop around Houston neighbors and explore the nightlife. 

Things to Do in Greater Third Ward, Houston

With the neighborhood being so diverse and rich in history, you can bet there is a ton to see and do. If you are new to the area, here are some of the first things you should check out. 

Take a Stroll through Emancipation Park

Emancipation Park is full history and has remaining an integral part of the Greater Third Ward, Houston. The Park was established nearly 150 years ago to commemorate Texas slaves being freed. Having received a $33 million renovation in 2013, it’s a Nowadays, locals and visitors alike gather at Emancipation Park to jog on the trails, swim at the aquatic center, and enjoy the rec areas. After setting into your new apartment, be sure to swing by the commemorative statues of the four founders at each corner of Emancipation Park.

Show Your Support at Houston's This Is It

You’re not really a Greater Third Ward local until you’ve dined at Houston, This Is It. Order a helping of traditional Southern cuisine including ham hocks, chitterlings, black-eyed peas, smothered pork chops, and oxtails among other specialties. Don't be surprised if you see an entertainer or the Travel Channel filming another segment at This Is It. The restaurant may not look like much from the outside, but upon walking in you’ll understand why locals call it the best soul food in Houston. 

Explore a College Campus

The Greater Third Ward is home to some of Houston's best institutions for higher education. The University of Houston hosts a variety of events including contemporary art exhibitions at the Blaffer Art Museum and shows at Cullen Performance Hall. 

Texas Southern University also calls the Greater Third Ward neighborhood home. Stop by and explore the University Museum showcasing African and African American artists among other exhibits. 

Take a Tour of the Project Row Houses

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Houston, the Greater Third Ward features historic row houses turned cultural center. In 1993, the Project Row House formed to help renovate and revitalize 39 shotgun houses into art studios across four blocks of the Third Ward. The organization also coordinates historic preservation and community service projects throughout the neighborhood to help re-empower the historic neighborhood. Check the Project Row House’s event calendar, book a tour, or volunteer and help contribute to the growth of your new neighborhood.

Savor a Treat at Crumbville

After a day at Emancipation Park, head to Crumbville to grab a sweet treat and coffee. Don't be surprised if the owner wants to give you a quick hug and give you the run-down on the baked goods. Really, the service here is that friendly.

Order a vegan cupcake, ginger snap cookie, or the wildly popular Cookie Minaj. Take some treats to go and share with your new neighbors to celebrate life in the Greater Third Ward.  

Where to Eat and Drink in Greater Third Ward, Houston

Houston has an eclectic food scene, and the Greater Third Ward neighborhood has some of the best eats in the city. Here are some of our favorite spots to check out.

The French Fry House

Yes, dreams do come true and there really is a restaurant serving up “All Things Fries.” If you’re a potato lover like us, add The French Fry House to your foodie bucket list. Their french fry dishes are far from ordinary, and you have to check out what all the buzz is about. 

Since it’s so close to The University of Houston, the line can get long and packed with students during the day. Wear loose-fitting pants, because they’re serving up generous helpings of extra loaded hot fries. Popular menu items are The Big Tex Fries, which are fries covered in BBQ chopped brisket and sausage, BBQ sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and chives. Another local fave is the Buffalo Chicken Fries, which are crispy fried chicken tenders chopped and tossed in tangy buffalo sauce on top of fries with shredded cheese, ranch, bacon, and parsley. 

The Library Coffee and Wine House

For a chill-on-the-patio, laid-back kind of lunch check out The Library Coffee and Wine House. This place is great for sitting under the outdoor umbrellas with a cup of coffee or in the evenings with a glass of wine and live music. They have a simple menu with good food and the friendly ambiance will have you wanting to just sit back, relax and enjoy your day. Try the black bean wrap or the turkey burger with a side of sweet potato fries.

The Rooftop Bar and Grill

While technically on the edge of the University of Houston campus, The Rooftop Bar and Grill is open to anyone and is a great spot to enjoy a meal in the Third Ward neighborhood. Here you’ll find a fun bar serving up cocktails and ice-cold beer all day. They have famous “mini pitchers” of margaritas and Texas tea to wash down their delicious burgers and wings. The rooftop lends itself for great views of the city while dining al-fresco under string lights. Come for an early dinner to catch the sunset.


Considered one of Houston’s hottest happy hour spots, Grooves is an entertainment and nightlife haven. It’s a sleek and elegant restaurant with live music and a big menu. When you go, try the Tropical Splash Salad which has Mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, craisins, glazed pecans, and blue cheese crumbles. The Gulf Coast Shrimp is amazing, too. During Friday Happy Hour from 4-9 appetizers are half off and there are .75-cent drink specials! 

Ready to call this unique neighborhood home?

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Miyan is a digital marketing specialist from Dallas, TX. She holds a BA in Mass Communication from Texas State University and has previously managed the website and social media accounts for a major home decor retailer, At Home Stores. Read More
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