MY downtown Houston Part One

Technically this is a travel story because I traveled forty miles to get here. MY downtown Houston Part One is my very familiar old world, from my past life as a gainfully employed member of society, before becoming a delightfully retired senior lady.

I worked in downtown Houston for 37 years, at the same job, and for the last 24 of those years, my work commute every weekday was at least an hour’s drive to work and an hour’s drive back home at the end of the day.

If the weather was terrible or traffic situations popped up, it could quickly become a one-and-a-half to a two-hour drive in each direction. That may sound horrible to you, but I genuinely enjoy driving and always want to go, you know.

Reading is another of my very favorite things to do and I spent all those hours on the road listening to books from Audible. Even today, I am not comfortable driving my car alone for any distance at all if I do not have an Audible book loaded on my phone ready to listen to.

My Audible library currently contains over 1,600 books!

So I just took a little drive down memory lane to see some of my favorite sights in the downtown area and discovered a few new ones at the same time. Some may be very familiar to you, some may not.

The most surprising thing for me about this little day trip was that downtown Houston was nearly a ghost town compared to the last time I had visited there. Many more people than I imagined are still apparently working from home. That is as it should be during this pandemic crisis.

Still, I was somewhat shocked to see the street parking lots so empty. I drove to Discovery Green, anticipating a hassle to find parking nearby. Nope, I just pulled right up and parked on the curb exactly where I wanted to be.

Graffiti Park

2102 Leeland St.
Houston, TX 77003

In my past life, I’d seen the colorfully painted walls as I drove here and there in the downtown area but never took the time to stop and take a look. This day, I decided to take a look. There are painted murals all over Houston.

I discovered that one of the best places to see graffiti art is Houston’s East Downtown section (EaDo). Once Houston’s Chinatown, this area displays bright, colorful murals on old building walls that pay tribute to all things Houston. Murals like these can be found all over the city too, not just here.

I happened upon two young men, Hertz, and his companion Reir, busy painting away. They were kind enough to give me permission to take a few pictures and a short video of them at work. These young 20ish-year-old men are from Dallas and have been painting graffiti walls for about seven years.

I didn’t talk with them long because the paint fumes were very strong! However, I did feel about ten years younger after having a conversation with such hip young artists! As I got back in my car with my creaking knees I instantly became my real age again.

More murals I discovered in the downtown Houston area

Discovery Green

1500 McKinney

MY downtown Houston – Part One

“To provide an uncommonly beautiful, urban green space in the heart of Houston that serves as a village green for our city, a source of health and happiness for our citizens, and a window into the incredible diversity of arts and traditions that enrich life in Houston.”

Discovery Green Mission Statement

Discovery Green with the George R. Brown Convention Center in the background.

I’ve driven by Discovery Green a million times and only stopped to visit a very few times. This is a relatively large and wonderful green space in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown.

In this Park, you will find a dog park, ever-changing art exhibits, a children’s playground, movie nights, space for outdoor games, an ice rink in winter, and all types of group activities from yoga to music concerts. It is surrounded by restaurants and hotels.

I stopped by this time to look at the House of Cards exhibit by design studio OGE Group that I’d read about. It was an impressive display, but it was in the middle of the afternoon. I was able to view the 126 oversized playing cards made by many artists from Houston and worldwide.

Music accompanies the exhibit. The Park was mostly deserted in the middle of the weekday afternoon, and I was able to walk right up to the Card exhibit. After dark, the cards are animated and colorfully lit up to create an illusion of collapsing and being rebuilt.

I expect it is a stunning sight to see, but it also may be a crowded event.

Bethel Baptist Church

801 Andrews St

MY downtown Houston – Part One

This outdoor church/park on the outskirts of downtown and near the historic Freedmen’s Town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was quite a sight to see. The original church was constructed of wood in 1889.

It was destroyed in the 1900 Storm, rebuilt in 1923, and then severely damaged by fire in 2005. The City of Houston purchased the property in 2009, and the structure was reinforced with steel supports to preserve it. As its historical marker states, this church was sometimes referred to as the silk stocking church because of its wealthy members.

It was quite beautiful to see and very unusual on its corner amid recently built condos and homes.

Market Square Park

Congress/Milam/Preston/Travis Streets

Hand-painted ceramic tiles on these benches and fountain created by artist Malou Flato

This Park square borders Congress, Milam, Preston, and Travis Streets and is just blocks from the famous Allen’s Landing, known as Houston’s birthplace. This block became a parking lot in the 60s and was redone and returned to a green space in August 2010.

Today this Park is a green sanctuary in this section of downtown Houston’s concrete buildings. Today, a visitor can have a picnic, exercise their dogs in the dog run, relax in the shade, or listen to live music.

A green lawn is in the center of the Park, and a café and James Surls’ Points of View, an outdoor sculpture, are on the Travis Street side. A section is dedicated to the memory of those lost at 9/11, named Lauren’s Garden, named after Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, a Houston passenger on United Flight 93.

Great bars and restaurants surround this square, and a colossal bonus, parking is free on Sundays! There are nearby parking garages and street lots, but it is downtown. Sometimes parking takes a minute. During this COVID time, however, I do not expect parking is an issue anywhere downtown.

I almost felt like a tourist just in town for a few days as I drove around “seeing the sights.” As you can imagine, there are so very many more sights to see and public places to visit in downtown Houston.

There were so many more intriguing spots to discover that I returned the following day with Steve to finish my downtown adventure. Look for this story next week, MY downtown Houston Part Two.

To be continued….

MY downtown Houston Part One

8 thoughts on “MY downtown Houston Part One

  1. this is a wonderful view of Houston. will look forward to the rest of the series.
    had no idea that graffiti art was a name for all the murals i have looked at.

    1. Thank you Elaine. There are some very talented artists in Houston!

  2. A very interesting look at downtown Houston. Makes me want to stop and look around the next time I’m there.

    1. Thank you. I did enjoy discover new sights downtown. It is ever changing!

  3. Unique reading about unique art in downtown Houston I never would have known about. I plan to visit in person soon!

    1. Thanks for reading. There are truly tons of art, activities, sights to see and learn about in downtown Houston. It is not all concrete and glass. I hope you can visit soon.

  4. What a nice trip. One of my granddaughters wants to be a graffiti artist.

    1. It was a fun day, and I was delighted to spend a few minutes talking to the young graffiti artists. The fumes from the paint cans though were seriously strong! I expect your granddaughter could be a fantastic grafitti artist.

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