Comment of the Day Runner-Up: What If They Had Kept Houston Houston Back Then, Too?

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: WHAT IF THEY HAD KEPT HOUSTON HOUSTON BACK THEN, TOO? Freeway Billboards“I hate watching this complacency about Houston’s problems. Yeah, we’re not like Boston or San Jose, and in some ways that’s good, but there is a lot we can do to get better without losing some sort of the mystical ‘Houstonness’ that makes us special. To those marveling at how great and ‘vibrant’ Houston’s flaws are, would you like to go back to 1980 when billboards were three times more crowded along our freeways? Would you like to rip out all the trees that have been planted along those same freeways? Would you like to remove the historic restrictions in the Heights and Sixth Ward and watch those neighborhoods turn into Rice Military? Do you want to see another giant revolving gas station sign atop a downtown skyscraper? Shall we return Hermann Park to its former scraggly state, or put the sewage back in Buffalo Bayou? If the answer to these questions is ‘No,’ then you must not be a fan of ‘Keeping Houston Houston,’ because before all that happened, Houston was a lot more ‘Houston’ than it is now. I would argue that the way it is now is a vast improvement, and that we should keep going in that direction.” [Mike, commenting on Comment of the Day: Still Waiting To See How Houston Is Going To Turn Out] Illustration: Lulu

14 Comment

  • I’m fine with less sewage in Buffalo Bayou, but I miss the giant billboards and downtown Gulf sign. I’m not really fond of forcing the Heights and Sixth Ward to slow their evolution.
    I also miss the days when downtown was abandoned after 6pm and you could skate down the middle of any street.

  • We’ve come a long way. All the way to par.

  • Amen, brother! For me, this is the comment of the month.

  • I prefer Rice Military to the Heights. The old Gulf sign downtown was awesome. Bring it back!

  • This commentor is trying to turn Houston into another East Coast city: no middle class, high unemployment, massive population living in poverty and dependent on welfare while a wealthy elite get to enjoy the fruits of historic districts, zoning, crack downs on entrepreneurship.

    Houston is successful because of its hands-off small government traditions. Once this has been eroded by progressive crusaders, you will see Fort Bend, Montgomery Counties, growing while Houston decays.

  • “Do you want to see another giant revolving gas station sign atop a downtown skyscraper?”

    Amongst your examples (some of them good), that was a very poor choice. Most Houstonians would say, “Heck yeah!”

  • “Yes” to a giant revolving gas station sign.

  • A-freaking-men!

  • How about we throw in segregation? How is that any less Houston than your other examples? Sodomy laws–let’s throw in sodomy laws while we’re at it. Do you suggest we miss that as well?

    Your argument is based on cherry-picked examples that have no merit. What people are missing is the charm of Houston which is quickly being sucked dry from this town.

    And yes, I’d rather have another Rice Military rather than the crap that is being built along Washington and in Montrose.

    Bring back revolving sign!

  • Well, you’ll notice that all of my examples had the common theme that they were about planning and aesthetics. I’m not sure what you mean by charm – the new Rice Military doesn’t seem very charming to me, with garage doors and gates everywhere. If you lament the loss of charm that comes from low cost older structures being replaced with expensive new construction and chain stores, I can sympathize with that.

  • billboards and sewage are the only real good changes you listed here.
    and I’d happily accept those going back to how they were if the historic districts were reversed. historic districts suck the way they are implemented.

  • OK, not the gay-bashing and sodomy laws, not that, but almost everything else about 1980 Houston I’d take: cheap rent in Montrose and the Heights, funky restaurants, clubs, and shops, not much traffic except for freeways, quiet downtown at night, cheap or free plentiful parking, the Astrodome, the seedy Rice Village, the lack of McMansions, the crazy lifestyle of pre-bust Houston.

  • I left Houston in 1980, and am getting ready to move back after 30 years in the SF Bay Area. I return to Houston frequently and follow its evolution on this site and others. I agree with you on the reduction of the billboard eyesores, the improvement of Buffalo Bayou, the re-greening efforts and many other positive changes that have occurred in Houston over the past 30 years. However, I hope that Houston never adopts planning with the fervor of the east and west coasts. If you look at San Jose, you see the results. A characterless, banal community that has been planned to the placement of your garbage on your driveway. Don’t even try to plant a tree in your yard without permission of tree type from the city arborist and paying a fee to the planning department. Houston is alive, ever changing and filled with a “uniqueness” that can never be matched. That is why I’m moving back, and will be yet another citizen with a watchful eye on planning regulations lest I find myself in another characterless “optimally planned city” with an operators manual for living.

  • Yes! Bring back the Gulf sign. That was great. I spent some time driving around Rice Military this past weekend. Man, that is one unfriendly area for parking.