History Summary

1986 AIDS MEMORIAL GARDEN started on abandoned railroad ROW

2004 AIDS MEMORIAL monument dedicated March 12

2005 Mayor Bill White makes an agreement not to build a short  bike trail to a dead-end

2008 City takes land, gardens, and memorials, with the use of eminent domain.

2013 Mayor Annise Parker proposes to builds a bike trail through the AIDS MEMORIAL GARDENS

trees, fruit trees and shrubs. The Mayor's Sustainability Director has no budget for landscaping only $3,000 for demolition. Presently the garden’s future is in peril by a non-bid contract with a developer-- who fought the community on this very same project five years ago. 

Federal funds for the project with matching 20% private fund are managed through the office of the Mayor. 

The need for this short appendage remains a mystery.  Built over the right of way years ago, a warehouse makes this a dead-end. The security risk to residents, mostly seniors, and safety risk to children -- forced to cross a major thoroughfare at an extremely dangerous location -- should outweigh any ceremonial or symbolic needs of some bicycle clubs.

It is disappointing that the City of Houston would not develop this stretch into a linear park with a scaled down jogging path and lighting. The AIDS MEMORIAL AND GARDEN would serve as a model, encouraging urban gardening. Nothing like that exists in our community. The future looks bleak for this beautiful 0.85 acre garden. Only a shadow of the garden may remain.

History of AIDS Memorial Garden

died of AIDS. It translates their memory into a garden full of life and a habitat for butterflies and other wildlife. An    18 foot tall column is a focal point of the memorial garden and is identified with a plaque engraved with “1986 Victim of AIDS."

March 12, 2004 marked the public dedication of the AIDS Memorial Garden and the Monument. In May 2008, 22 years since the founding of the garden, the City obtained           0.85 acres of the existing AIDS Memorial Garden and Monument, by eminent domain. We continued to maintain it. The original plan called for brick pavers with victims’ names to surround the base of the monument, creating a circular plaza. This plan was never implemented because of the City's condemnation and control of the property.

In 2008, City of Houston proposed a    10 foot wide bike trail connecting to downtown. The local civic club embraced the plan except for a short appendix leading to a dead end.

 Safety and security motivated the community to oppose building this section behind homes.  In the end, Mayor Bill White agreed and promised that the City would seek community approval next time. This decision preserved the garden from destruction. A City of Houston environmental assessment report recommended the removal ornamental non-native plants.

In February 2013, Mayor Annise Parker, without notice to the community, reversed Mayor White’s decision. I only discovered this plan from the Mayor's own lips, after seeing her with entourage in the garden.  

The city now plans to build the bike trail behind the homes. It will cut a 12 foot wide swath through the gardens, cutting down specimen

In 1986,  my partner and I planned and planted an urban retreat on a stretch of land, long abandoned by the railroad and City of Houston. Reaction to the grief for many lost friends from AIDS sparked the dream of an AIDS Memorial Garden for Houston. 

At first the task looked daunting; we spent a year removing truckloads of debris and trash trees. Saved concrete debris became a wall and fill dirt became berms built to prevent further dumping. Two years later we started planting trees, mostly from Arbor Day, and rooted cuttings from the oleanders in Moody Gardens. The transformation of an abandoned railroad right-of-way began.

This short section of land became isolated when a grocers supply trucking company purchased and built a building over the right-of-way at one end, and the old train trestle over the bayou was removed at the other end.  The warehouse made the right of way a dead end.

Metro had no future plans for this area. The site cried out for a linear park. The County Commissioners and the City Council showed no interest in the concept in response to our letters. Union Pacific stopped maintaining the property.  

Our master plan called for a monument at each end to anchor the garden. Year by year, the garden expanded to 0.85 acres of an urban retreat with various micro-ecosystems. We built a pathway to the bottom of the deep ravine. It took a year to remove boulders and tangled trees and vines on the site. In time the trees we planted would mature and their canopy would provide shade for gingers, Japanese maples, and iris. The garden became a verdant flowering oasis in the midst of the city, dedicated to the memory of those who