“The Loop” is the commonly referred to by Houstonians to describe the circular 610 highway that surrounds central Houston. Many feel the loop is not just a freeway that allows city dwellers quick travel to various parts of the city. Rather, Houstonians have come to acknowledge “the loop” as a cultural boundary that separates the residents of Houston.
The pejorative acronym, “OTL,” can be heard around town, and is meant to describe the area “Outside The Loop.” One can hear it in pretentious bars in the village, trendy boutiques in Midtown, and the overpriced restaurants on Westheimer. The expression leaves some residents baffled as to what exactly this expression implies. Perhaps the connotation hints at a lack of sophistication or it is simply a means by which people differentiate themselves. Whatever the case may be, there is a growing demand for apartment housing inside the loop.
The demand for apartments and general housing inside the loop has resulted in increasing rents and real estate valuations across central Houston. There was once a time when Houstonians fled the inner city giving rise to a hollow shell effect. Now residents pour back into the city core searching for convenience and perhaps cultural acceptance.