What Has Happened to Washington Avenue?

Pearl Bar 0115.jpg
Photo by Bill Olive
Pearl Bar in happier times
To be perfectly honest, I never much cared for Washington Avenue. Then again, I don't have anything resembling what you might call a South Beach personality. I tend to shun velvet ropes and collared shirts after hours, and I definitely prefer either a band be onstage or to hang out somewhere you don't have to shout to be heard.

Rewind:

UPDATED: Pearl Bar Visited by Comptroller Saturday Night


Those kinds of places grew in short supply as Washington became Houston's pre-eminent adult playground these past few years. But its luster has slowly dimmed when confronted by increasing traffic congestion, exploding residential development and newer nightlife districts like upper Kirby, where Houston's young people just seem to be having more fun.

And even now the avenue isn't a total write-off. The Dark Horse is still around (and hopefully always will be), the Blue Moose Lodge is bringing in some of the region's finer lesser-known country artists once a week, and the monthly Bombon at Fox Hollow is going great guns as Houston's hottest recurring Latin dance party.

But it was still hard not to read this past weekend's developments as a significant signpost on the avenue's timeline. And not a happy one, either. Saturday, the state comptroller's office visited the ailing Pearl Bar, which had also run afoul of the TABC several times recently. In turn, one of Pearl's neighbors told us he thought recent business on Washington could be down by as much as 10 percent. Reports of state visits to nearby bars have already started to trickle in.

Jeremy 0115.jpg
Former porn star and "hedgehog" Ron Jeremy hosted a party at one of Washington's older clubs, The Drake, last month.
Naturally, Washington's woes came as welcome news to some readers who characterize the scene as full of status-obssessed "douchebags" and carpetbagging suburbanites looking for an easy hookup and to drink their fill of kamikazes or Jaeger bombs. Others lament the days when Washington housed some of Houston's finest live-music halls, such as Rockefeller's, Satellite Lounge, the Vatican, Mary Jane's, the Bon Ton Room and Club Hey Hey.

We selected some of the more choice Facebook comments from our original post, and welcome you to join in, whether you would like to pile on Washington's woes, or simply remember the street in happier times.


Jack Gilbert: "Apparently, one-size-fits-all trendiness is no longer trending upward."


William Michael Smith: "If there's anything to evolution, three years from now all those nouveau bars will be gone, replaced by taquerias and adult book stores, like Washington used to be."


Jimi Austin: "Bad area for an entertainment district. Not near enough parking, narrow streets, and not a single hotel."


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21 comments
timebombtina
timebombtina

I agree with @binaural42. And whose bright idea was it to try to change Montrose to dumb ass Neartown? It will always be Montrose!

Alfonse
Alfonse

I bet the next in line is Upper Heights. There are some clubs that are beginning to show the strain of the hipster crowd. It's time to also ruin the place around Fitzgerald's.

iMidget
iMidget

I've mentioned this before, but it would be interesting to see a socioeconomic study done throughout lifecycle of the Houston bar/club areas. 

Anse
Anse

Of all the trendy party scenes this town has had, the worst has to be Richmond Ave. That area flamed out at a time when Houstonians were still moving to the suburbs/exurbs in droves and nobody really cared about living in the city proper. So Richmond turned into Stripper Alley, and who, besides sleazeballs, really wants to hang out in a neighborhood like that? Midtown and Washington Ave have too much residential development to just dry up and die. I can only hope that the douchebags don't end up on North Shepherd. I'm worried about it a little bit. I just moved to Oak Forest, and the last time I went to Cottonwood, there was a yacht rock cover band playing and the crowd had ominous douchey overtones.

basshole
basshole

The reason the area's popularity is fading is because it was reliant on hip young folks to create the scene. Well guess what, people don't stay young forever and the new generation wants something new for themselves. Trends are by definition fleeting, so if you cater to people who care about the "scene," expect to have a short shelf life. 

binaural42
binaural42

Just please, keep your Washington out of my Montrose.

JacobD
JacobD

Just because Pearl Bar owed some money to the comptroller, doesn't mean all the clubs on Washington are going down and won't continue to pack house every weekend.. I know you hipsters were hoping the people who don't give you a time of day would disappear, wishful thinking.

Eric McPhail
Eric McPhail

I miss the venues. Explosions in the Sky at Mary Jane's was brilliant.

_sid.
_sid.

I wonder if this is good or bad for my home value??!! hmmm

H_e_x
H_e_x

And to think that people living in those new condos behind walters blamed the venue for their problems. The problem wasn't the clientele at walters, but from the people going to these new douche-bars.

Robert Medlin
Robert Medlin

*Paula Cole voice* "Where have all the douchebags gone-oooone??"

Holla Atchyamomma
Holla Atchyamomma

My apartment complex is a nexxus of brotastic activity--and during the Summer, the pool has a lovely oily sheen to it.

Amanda Lewis
Amanda Lewis

Good riddance. It has gone from borderline blight to over-developed. I live in the area and my daily douchebag encounters have quadrupled. Time to ease back

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

I moved away from Rice Military for these reasons, it was invaded in the evenings and more so on the weekends by horribly inconsiderate 30k millionaires from the burbs, replete with trite mall fashion and Kardashian-esque sensibilities. They had no problem running bicyclists off of the road, in a rush to get their used BMW's parked, and to sample some obscure awful tasting microbrew whilst sampling some head to tail locally sourced offal. Some of the original places are missed, like walters, the old fat cats, even cahill's had a good Vienna beef Chicago dog this was all paved over for trendy glitzy non-sense, for people with more money than common sense. I much preferred when it was factories and run down places when going to places like the vatican to see shows was an adventure, eating decent mexican food across the street with the band playing that night (now candelari's).  Oh well time keeps moving on..

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

@Anse Richmond Ave was pretty nice during the late 80s-early 90s, befor the gangbangers showed up....

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@JacobD Washington Avenue has been crumbling for well over a year. The list of shuttered/turned over bars is in double digits.  This is just another nail in the coffin.  Those of us who have been around long enough to watch people flee Downtown and Richmond Strip recognize it when we see it.

I feel sorry that you take the demise of places like Kobain and Pearl as a personal attack on your homestead. It's kind of like someone defending their clap infection when the penicillin comes calling.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Holla Atchyamomma Haha you must live on the WOW or in or around archstone..

cityandcountry
cityandcountry

Now while I hate douchebags..I dont like stupid hispters like yourself as well.... who thinks you are the author of cool...everything you do is obviosuly so cool trendy and non-douchy...haha..idiot

Anse
Anse

I wouldn't doubt it if Richmond Avenue comes back around eventually. But probably not as long as the strip clubs are there.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@cityandcountry Capitalizing letters is obviously not cool, but insulting people at random is. Hypocrisy at it's finest/worst your call (dot dot dot)..

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