Montrose will soon have a new, physical tribute to the LGBT community just in time for this year’s Pride celebration.
Work will begin this weekend on a pride crosswalk at the intersection of Westheimer Road and Taft Street. Initially envisioned as a tribute to a young man tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident there last year, the project has taken on a broader significance as it honors the support and friendship many find in Houston’s LGBT community.
Steered by a special Houston Pride Crosswalk Committee and funded by Pride Houston, the crosswalk is designed to serve as a marker of encouragement to Houstonians and visitors and a reminder that Houston is a welcoming place, said city employee Matthew Brollier, who served on the committee.
Houston-based UP Art Studio was commissioned by the committee for the crosswalk’s design which is inspired by artist Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag first flown in 1978. The colors of the flag – red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet – will stretch across all four crosswalks at the intersection. UP Art Studio, which will serve as the project’s general contractor, specializes in public art commissions including Houston’s Mini Murals that have converted traffic signal control cabinets around the city, including the one at the southeast corner of Westheimer and Taft.
In January 2016, 21-year-old Alex Hill was hit by a car crossing at this same intersection in Montrose. Hill had lived in Houston just a little more than a year, but had quickly developed a strong network of friends. Those same friends initiated the crosswalk idea to honor Hill, who is depicted in a mural on a nearby traffic box surrounded by friends with a rainbow sunburst in the background. Others in City Hall and beyond soon joined the effort, recognizing the symbolic importance of the project for the local LGBT community.
District C Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen said she’s pleased that the first Pride crosswalk in the state of Texas is located in her district. “Installed just in time for Pride 2017 and located along the historical former route of Houston’s Pride Parade, the new crosswalk will bring visibility to pedestrian safety and stands as a colorful symbol of Houston’s strong support for our LGBTQ community,” she said.
Pride Houston generously donated $15,000 to help fund the project’s design and construction. The Montrose Center graciously agreed to act as fiscal sponsor for this project, providing a transactional account and ensuring financial transparency for the funds raised. The traffic control plan developed for the crosswalk’s installation was donated in kind by Houston-based transportation planning firm Traffic Engineers, Inc. Harper Brothers Construction and the Montrose Management District have provided generous in-kind support for the crosswalk’s installation.