Middle-class African American families moved into this area and established the neighborhood around 1908. Independence Heights was an important center for African American businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, building contractors, lumberyards, and a blacksmith shop. Residents also formed a number of fraternal organizations and churches in the community. By 1915, the community had grown to more than 400, and the residents incorporated Independence Heights as a city, electing George O. Burgess as the first mayor. The city invested substantially in improvements, including shell paving for streets, plank sidewalks and a municipal water system. In 1929, the growing city of Houston annexed Independence Heights.