Forgotten Houston for Kids: Peppermint Park

Categories: Houston 101

peppermint-park.jpg
Old skool!
When you are VERY little, way too short to reach the hand of the wooden cutout that says you must be "this high" to ride a roller coaster, there aren't a lot of options for you. But, in the '60s and '70s, there was a place that could accommodate you called Peppermint Park.

A micro-sized amusement park that catered to birthday parties and holiday celebrations for little tikes, it was a place you could go and not have to worry about being small. I guess they were right when they sung in Free to Be You and Me, "we don't have to change at all."

More »

[VIDEO] Farewell to Macy's, aka the Foley's Building

Categories: Houston 101

08.jpg
Photos by Abrahán Garza
What began as Foley Brother's Dry Goods Company at 400 Main Street in 1900 and acquired by Federated Department Stores in 1947, moving them in to the lush pad at 1110 Main Street, ended on Sunday, September 22, 2013.

More »

Saving the Astrodome: Campaign Highlights Historic Preservation

Categories: Houston 101

astrodome1pardd.jpg
Some history worth preserving at long last.
In a city like Houston, to take on the fight for historic preservation is the equivalent of slamming your face into a wall over and over. With no zoning and virtually no historic ordinances with any teeth whatsoever, the city and county have long been at the mercy of developers because of laws they created to benefit said developers. When there was an oil boom in the '70s and the need for cheap housing for both field and refinery laborers as well as management was necessary, suburbs sprang up all over town creating the sprawl we are still dealing with today.

In the last 10 years, more and more people have moved back into the inner city and preservation of landmarks has gotten at least slightly more attention. Even so it wasn't a protest even from the monied folks in River Oaks that staved off certain death for the River Oaks Theater, but rather the recession and burst housing bubble.

Ultimately, we are still a city bought and paid for by developers, which is why it is so ironic that the first salvo in the battle to save the Astrodome fired by the PAC that will run the campaign is all about protecting our history. With the committee populated by members of Harris County Commissioners Court, perhaps developers' best friends over the last 30-plus years, you'll forgive me if I have to spend some time looking for my eyes after they rolled out of the back of my head when I read this...

More »

Forgotten Houston for Kids: AstroWorld, the One That Got Away

Categories: Houston 101

astroworld-field.jpg
Photo by Jeff Balke
The dirt lot of my childhood dreams.
When I was compiling the Houston Bucket List in July and August, I found myself returning to places in my mind that no longer existed. Because so many of these were memories from my childhood it's no surprise that most of them were specifically for kids. It got me thinking we should remember these places of our youth and pay tribute to them in some way. This series will focus on forgotten Houston landmarks made especially for kids.

First up is the mother of all losses for kids of all ages, AstroWorld.

More »

Houston Remembers 9/11: Day of the Attacks Still Resonates with Locals

Categories: Houston 101

911-towers.jpg
Photo by Michael Foran via Wikipedia
Terrifying even if you didn't live in NYC.
The morning of September 11, 2001, I was asleep upstairs at my house in the Heights. It seems like 100 years ago considering all the changes that have happened to the world and for me personally since then. As was typical, my alarm went off. It was the radio tuned to 610 AM KILT. Lance Zierlein and John Granato were the morning hosts at the time and I, in my sleepy state, overheard something about an attack in New York. I thought something had happened at the Yankees or Mets game. The more I listened, the more I realized it was much more serious.

I went into the living room to watch on TV. A few minutes later, I woke my then wife and she and I watched in stunned horror as the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

At the time, my company was contracting with ex-Mayor Lee Brown's re-election campaign. We were all told not to come in to headquarters right away, but we all sort of stumbled aimlessly in that direction anyway not knowing exactly what to do. I remember how distinctly quiet it was on the roads. It was a beautiful, slightly cool September morning and very few people were on the road. But, more than that, the skies were empty and I thought how remarkably quiet it gets outside with no planes or helicopters in the air.

More »

Brutal Mosquito Season Yet Another Fabulous Part of Houston Summer

Categories: Houston 101

mosquitoes-houston.jpg
Yes, they can.
The heat. The humidity. The giant roaches. And, yes, the mosquitoes. If you haven't been outside (hey, good for you), it might be a good idea to consider covering yourself in a thin layer of repellent when and if you do. Last night, sitting in my backyard, it was as if an army of tiny assassins was attacking me from all angles. I swear to God, I am convinced they were swimming in the insect repellent I had, drinking it like it was wine.

According to a report from Fox26, these are marsh mosquitoes that have come in from the coast with the tropical moisture. Marsh mosquitoes are particularly bad and there are a lot of them in the area now. I'm guessing something like 10 gajillion and that's just in my neighborhood.

More »

More Places Say Houston Is Awesome, But We Knew That Already

Categories: Houston 101

houston-forbes-harris.jpg
Photo by Jeff Balke
Yeah, we're cool.
Another week, another couple of lists that say Houston is amazing, happy, funny, perfect, genius...I don't know. Harris Interactive did a poll to find the happiest cities among America's top 10 markets and Houston came in second behind Dallas/Ft. Worth. You'd be happy, too, if the boobs you'd just bought were the size of honeydew melons and your McMansion came complete with a bronze statue of J.R. Ewing in the entryway fountain. Apparently, people in San Francisco are miserable bastards because they came in last. So much for cool temperatures and a beautiful view to put pep in your step.

In a second mention of Houston, Forbes called us "America's next great global city." It also called us the capital of the Third Coast (the nickname for the Gulf Coast). Holy crap, we're awesome.

And it's great. For years, we've wished people would look past the sprawl, the pollution, the strip malls, the lack of public transportation, the failing infrastructure and the giant mosquitos to pat us on the back and say, "Houston, you're all right." Now you can barely pick up a national publication without them telling us how wonderful we are, like they're sucking up to us for something (cough...rolling blackouts...cough).

So, awesome and also yawn because we knew that already. We gave up on worrying about the national media back when a certain crappy tabloid newspaper in a city we'll only name by its initials -- NYC -- called us a "Hellhole." In some ways at that time, we probably were, but a lot has changed in 20 years.

More »

Houston at Night: Amazing Time Lapse Video of Houston After Dark

Categories: Houston 101

time-lapse-houston.jpg
Even the garish ferris wheel looks pretty damn cool at night and in time lapse.
We are unabashed Houston supporters, so when anyone does something particularly awesome specifically focused on our city, we tend to take notice. For example, this video from former UH student and videographer Spenser Harris posted to Vimeo last night. It features some amazing time lapse video shot in and around downtown, Reliant Park and the Galleria.

More »

Vintage AstroWorld TV Ads to Remind Us of Summers Past

Categories: Houston 101

astroworld-field.jpg
Photo unfortunately by Jeff Balke
Of all the photos I've ever taken -- from crappy shots as a kid with a Kodak Instamatic -- to covers of the Houston Press, the above shot is by far my least favorite. Never mind that it's not a particularly good shot -- nice slanted landscape there, Balke -- but it's what it depicts that just kills me.

A few years ago, I was driving along the South Loop when I saw it, the field where I used to spend chunks of my summer. Except, instead of being filled with rides and kids having fun, it was just dirt and shame. Yes, that field is where AstroWorld used to be.

More »

Cover Story: The Making of the Houston Bucket List and The Final Nine

bucketlistcover.jpg
I have a soft spot for Houston, this mutt of a city that I've called home for nearly all of my 44 years on this earth. During those four decades, it has certainly suffered its share of ups and downs. But, even during the most complicated times our city has faced, I've believed in its resilience at it has yet to fail me. So, when Press Editor Margaret Downing recounted the story of a checklist she saw on her sister's refrigerator in Austin -- a personal bucket list for the state capital -- and suggested one should be done for Houston, I leaped at the opportunity.

The first step in this process I surmised was setting ground rules. Anytime a list is made of any kind, the only way to keep it valid, interesting and relatively free from complaint is to set some fairly strict criteria.

First, whatever made the list had to either be unique to Houston or something we do differently. There are some interesting things to do in Houston that also happen to be done in many cities, so I took sky diving out of the mix, even though it sounds terrifying and exhilarating. Still, not terribly uncommon. On the other hand, there are plenty of places around the world that make killer fried chicken, but are there any that do it like Frenchy's in that setting? I doubt it.

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...