Houston’s Last Best Tour Guide

HOUSTON’S LAST BEST TOUR GUIDE “In an ideal world,” writes Aaron Carpenter, free copies of Douglas Milburn’s 1979 The Last American City: An Intrepid Walker’s Guide to Houston “would be distributed at every coffee shop lining Westheimer Road and Montrose Boulevard, if only for the purpose of inspiring someone else to write an equivalent for today’s Houston. . . . Some questions that can be answered with this book: What was the best convenience store in town? (Answer: the 7-11 at 603 Bayland.) What map was ‘best for the suburbanite?’ (Answer: Gousha.) What is ‘The Ghost of Sul Ross Street?’ (Answer: too long to explain here.) Here is his advice for a Sunday afternoon out: ‘Enter The Galleria on the south side (Entrance No. 8) off Alabama. Drive down to the first level. Bear right around the ramp and park somewhere on this level – Level B, in either Zone 8 or 9. Intrepid Drivers’ Note: Drive here some Sunday when the garages are mostly empty, and spend a surreal half hour exploring these vast, gray spaces with their nautilus-like spirals and their bleak perspectives occasionally broken by glimpses of the interior of the mall. At several points one emerges on the roof where whole new vistas unfold.’” [OffCite]

8 Comment

  • The Texas Monthly 1980 Guidebook to Houston is almost as good. Probably 85 to 90 percent of the funky shops, stores, restaurants, and attractions listed in there are gone, gone, gone.

  • I have looked at the 1975 version and it’s pretty neat!

  • Lauren, I don’t think I have that one, but I do remember seeing a ’75 and it was even better. I’ll have to look at home. I remember also around ’81 or so there was a glossy mag called, I believe “Houston City.” Kinda of a smaller Texas Monthly. Anyway, either they or Texas Monthly had a huge feature article about the forty or so different countries which were represented with restaurants or shops in Houston. African restaurants, Filipino groceries, Salvadoran yerberias, etc. Lots of stuff off the beaten path, like “The Swedish Shop” in Rice Village and a Scottish wool shop in Memorial. Those were the days, indeed.

  • marmer, there was a glossy mag called “Houston City.” It went out of business in spring of 1987. I only know that because I was supposed to have an editorial internship there that summer, but they folded before the spring semester ended.

  • In fact, I believe Douglas Milburn was a frequent contributor, maybe even a staff member or editor, for Houston City.

  • Well, whadya know, they have their own wikipedia page, and yes, he was the last editor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_City_Magazine

  • I did a little research of my own. The article I mentioned earlier is “Around the World in Houston: 35 Nations in One Texas Town” by Alison Cook in the January 1983 Texas Monthly. It’s not available in the TM online archives, unfortunately. Here’s the summary from the table of contents: “The Grand Tour: Houston’s the ticket to a trip around the world. In that one city you can now eat, shop, drink and dance across the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas.”

  • Here it is on Google Books:


    There’s also an interesting article in the same issue giving a historical perspective about the dry vs. wet (alcohol sales) controversy.