The Changing Face of Houston: The Heights Then and Now

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Photo by Chris Lane
Nice older homes display much of the appeal of The Heights area for residents.

I lived in the Heights area as a child in the late '70s, at that time one of Houston's well-known neighborhoods with a long history, and an area that had changed a great deal over the previous decades.

Today, the Heights is considered by many to be one of the most desirable Inner Loop communities and seems to exist in a continual state of metamorphosis. More than many cities, Houston and its neighborhoods seem to always be in a rapid state of change, and the Heights today reflects that trend.

The origin of the Heights is a tale of the type of entrepreneurialism that many Houstonians still consider a basic part of the fabric of the city. In the late 1800s a self made millionaire named Oscar Martin Carter, who had made his fortune in Nebraska and Colorado, saw the Houston area as the perfect place to create a new type of utopian community, perfect for the fast approaching 20th Century.

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The 2014 Best of HoustonĀ® Readers' Poll: Vote on Your Favorite Houston Places Now!

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Live somewhere long enough and you develop a collection of favorite locations, places you can always count on to deliver a good times or good service. You have your favorite museum to explore, your favorite spot to grab a glass of wine, your favorite place to work out, so on and so forth.

In a few weeks, our Best of HoustonĀ® 2014 issue is going to drop and we'll have our list of favorites for you to read and check out. Of course, we also know that you feel very passionate about some of the subjects, which is why we're giving you the chance to let us know what your favorite spots are.

That's right, it's time for the 2014 Best of HoustonĀ® Readers' Poll.

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The 10 Best Guinness World Records Broken by Houston

Everyone loves a story of accomplishment, and Houston has them in spades. Quite a few Guinness World Records have been won either in the city or by our people, and today we celebrate the ten best.

Jason David Frank - Most pine boards broken in freefall
The former Tommy Oliver from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has gone on to an impressive martial arts and MMA career after his time on the show. He also has one of the most badass records in the world when he broke seven pine boards in the middle of a skydive. The previous record was two. That's right, when he was riding in a giant robotic dragon and spinkicking alien monsters, that was his warm-up.


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The Changing Face of Houston - The Montrose Then and Now

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Photo by Michelle Guillory
A recent remodel briefly exposed a long hidden reminder of the '70s era Montrose.
Houston always seems to be in a state of reinvention. It keeps this city an exciting place to live, but that state of flux can be difficult to get used to, as the character of some neighborhoods go through rapid transformations, being redeveloped as gentrification occurs and demographics change.

In recent years, this trend is no more obvious than in the city's Inner Loop neighborhoods. I grew up in Oak Forest, the Heights, and the Montrose, and those neighborhoods are dramatically different today than they were even 20 years ago. Of course, 20 years is a long time, and almost anyone would expect neighborhoods to change over the decades, but the process seems accelerated inside the Loop.

The Montrose in particular has gone through some major changes, and is continuing to transform into a neighborhood very unlike the one I knew as a teenager in the late '80s. Rather than make a judgment as to whether or not those changes are "good" or "bad," I'm more interested in looking at what's happening and why.

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The 10 Best Houston Inventions

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Amazon
Ever since mankind figured out that prehistoric beasts die easier when you poke them with a pointy stick rather than beating them in the head with a far less pointy stick, humanity has lauded and celebrated invention. We like things, and one way or another we've crawled from the caves into magics like the Internet, dialysis, and the inflatable grill. If only our ancestors could see us now I'd bet they'd...

Well, probably poke us with the pointy stick out of a combination of magosophobia and "No one likes a show off, smartass". Progress is hard, OK?

Houston has contributed nicely to the world's collections of do-hickies, and today we celebrate ten things you love that were made possible by H-Town inventors.

Screwpull Corkscrew
Fun fact, the cork was invented before the corkscrew. It wasn't until an English gunsmith in the 18th century used a device used to get shot out of muzzle-loaders than anyone came up with a way to easily get the wine out of a sealed bottle.

Somewhat easier, I mean, and the process still needed improving. Enter Houston's Herbert Allen in the 20th century, who liked inventing things for jet engines and the petroleum industry but loved wine. He had one of the finest cellars in Houston, and when his wife complained that she had a hard time with corkscrews Allen went to work inventing a lever-based mechanism that would do the job for her with a fraction of the effort.


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6 Crazy Mascots From Texas Past

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Photo by Steve Rainwater
Big Tex stands tall over the Lone Star State

Pop culture is dotted with the ghosts of long vanquished mascot characters that once represented well-loved products, places, and sports teams. In some cases, the original version was reinvented like McDonald's "Evil Grimace" character, originally a four-armed horror that was one of McDonaldland's few bad guys. I guess realizing the original design flaw in introducing a frowning, four armed, purple abomination as part as their brand's attempt at winning the hearts and appetites of children, Grimace was soon changed into a much friendlier creature with a more conventional number of arms.

In other cases, the attraction that the mascot represented just went out of business, presumably sending the character to some form of Limbo where despoiled mascots are sent into exile. Let's take a look back at some of these once beloved characters that hailed from Texas.

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Rest of the Best: 10 Best Houston Indie Movie Posters

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Our city produces some really excellent films. Much of it horror, sure, but that's indie filmmaking for you. It's always easy to start with horror.

Once you've got your film, though, you've got to market that sucker. Nothing does that like a really eye-catching poster. It's still one of my favorite parts of going to the movies, walking up and down the halls to look at the various posters for upcoming features.

This week we look at some of the best that our underground film scene has managed to make. You know you're a hardcore Houstonian film nut when you've got these on your wall.

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Rest of the Best: 8 Best Dinosaurs (& 2 Pseudo-Dinos) That Once Roamed Houston

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I am an unashamed dinosaur nut. I had three different Time Life series on them as a child and if I had them today I would still read them. Dinosaurs are amazing and I don't think I'll ever get tired of reading about them.

In case you didn't know, Texas has been the home of plenty of the thunder lizards. Seriously, we have some of the best in the whole world on our list. Some of the great ones that once roamed what would eventually become the streets of Houston include...

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Rest of the Best: 10 Best Novels Set in Houston

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Houston continues to get wider and wider recognition in the world, but I still feel like it sometimes lacks an identity in the national consciousness. I mean, if someone tells you that a book takes place in New York City or Chicago, you can probably name a dozen books or movies or television shows that take place in those cities. By proxy, you have stories in your head that fit into those settings.

That's something Houston lacks, but we're getting better about it. Today we're going to look at ten of the best books that are set in H-Town

10. The Deal, by Becky Cochrane and Timothy Lambert
It's a gay romance novel, which might turn some people off, but the dialogue in The Deal is just unbeatable. Set in Montrose, it's about a group of friends fed up with their love lives who vow to find true love before next New Year's Eve. Yes, that is a corny as hell premise, and yes, it's a pretty predictable story, but the characters come to life in hilarious barbs and quips that will leave you howling. It's a great voice.


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Vote for Your Favorites in Our Readers' Choice Awards

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It's time

We're getting ready for our annual Best of Houston issue which will hit the stands in early October.

This year's theme: We're gamblers willing to take chances and roll the dice. As a result, Houston has prospered and even when the pot gets low, we double down and rebound. And so do the people who live here in every category from restaurants to government to health to sports. Houston is holding a winning hand and we're going to tell everyone so in this year's Best of Houston.

The other important part of BOH -- besides our writers' picks -- is our Readers' Choice awards. That's where you tell us what you think the best places/people are in 99 categories as well as the category we forgot.

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