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In the northern hemisphere summer of 1991, beginning in May several fires occurred in the Fourth Ward, with three buildings effected in each 30-day interval.By August 1991 nine houses, all previously run-down, had been effected by the fires.The Handbook of Texas said that citizen opposition and "more importantly" the mid-1980s economic decline delayed those plans.The Handbook of Texas said that the neglect of the housing units and the resulting disappearance of those units, the reluctance of investors to invest capital into the Fourth Ward, and "future of the neighborhood" all "undermined" "[t]he viability" of the Fourth Ward.From 1905 through the 1940s, the Freedman's Town area included what was Houston's largest baseball venue through 1927, West End Park.It was home to the city's Minor League baseball team, the Houston Buffaloes, and it was the city's first venue for Negro Major League games.; Italian Americans moved into the Fourth Ward, including Freedmen's Town, at the turn of the century.Yates and his son, Rutherford Yates, became major community leaders in the early days of the Fourth Ward.
The opening of Interstate 45 in the 1950s separated an eastern portion of the Fourth Ward area from the community; that portion became the Allen Center business and hotel complex and is now considered to be a part of Downtown Houston.In the 1990s a former city planning commission member founded Houston Renaissance, a nonprofit private charity sustained by federal and municipal funds.The charity bought large portions of the community and announced plans to redevelop the parcels into affordable housing.The Italian Americans opened small businesses and, over a period of time, acquired more and more Fourth Ward property.Many had extended mercantile credit to customers, and seized property from the customers after they failed to pay off their debts.
During that year Jeannie Kever of the Houston Chronicle said "many people claim it is too late" to salvage the historical aspects of the community. There's no library there." Garnet Coleman, a Texas state representative of the Third Ward, said in 2009 that the Fourth Ward cannot recapture the sense of community that it used to have.