Pleasantville Annexed into the City of Houston


The land on which Pleasantville would be built was officially incorporated into the city of Houston as part of a larger annexation in 1949. This would have serious implications for the kinds of development and infrastructure that would impact the neighborhood, as well as the community organizing that would unfold. 

The city of Houston grew during the booming years of WWII, growth driven in no small part by the rapidly expanding petrochemical industry that quite literally fueled the war and soon became the lifeblood of the city of Houston. As it grew, so did nearby cities and towns, and in 1949, Houston annexed large swaths of unincorporated land to secure its future tax base and limit the incursion of other municipalities. This annexation included the area that was slated to become Pleasantville, which meant the neighborhood would be subject to Houston’s notorious underregulated development and lack of zoning laws. While deed restrictions were put in place in Pleasantville, meaning there were limits on the kind of development that could be built in the neighborhood itself, the absence of zoning laws would allow the surrounding land to be developed for industrial use. 

Being part of Houston also meant that residents could exert considerable political leverage in the growing city by organizing block voting and advocating for city services. A number of neighborhood leaders went on to hold powerful positions in city governance, including Judson Robinson Jr., the first Black person elected to Houston City Council, Talmadge Sharp Sr. who was one of the city’s first Black Warrant Officers and Judge James Muldrow who was the first Black County Criminal Judge in the City of Houston from Pleasantville.