09/12/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SNIFFING OUT FREEWAY BILLBOARD FINANCE CATCH-22S Redo of 3618 Burlington St., Westmoreland Historic District, Houston, 77006“I wonder what the particulate pollution is outside and inside of this house during various times of day and year? I wonder if one side of the house gets dirtier and needs pressure washing sooner than other, or if there is uniform pollution around the house? I guess its better not to know these things, because that might lower the potential value and an cause an acknowledgement of some salient dangers. I, personally, would think less about the highway if the sign were gone. [But] I guess the income from the sign could fund your HSA account and pay for all the inhalers you might need to alleviate your pollution-caused asthma.”  [Duston, commenting on Poolside Freeway Billboard Comes Down As Westmoreland Queen Anne Redo Wraps Up] Photo of partially deconstructed billboard by Spur 527: Swamplot inbox

08/30/16 5:30pm

Billboards and signs near Gulfgate, Houston, 77087

In the wake of a multi-year legal tiff between TxDOT and an Austin-based real estate company over a freestanding Ron Paul 2012 sign outside of an erotica shop on Hwy. 71, a district appeals court has just struck down central parts of the Texas Highway Beautification Act, Dug Begley reports today. The ruling may have eventual implications for city makeover enthusiast Scenic Houston’s long-term de-billboarding quest, and comes right on the heels of the announcement last week that an additional 13 signs around Houston would be coming down.

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Signs of the Times
05/26/16 5:15pm

1301 Leeland St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

1301 Leeland St., Downtown, Houston, 77002From a largely-barren expanse of surface lot west of Toyota Center, a reader sends a few fresh images snapped during a street-level fly-by of the 1930s office building at the corner of Leeland and Caroline streets, where Texas Direct Auto has recently taken up both residence and a new advertising tack. Following in the wake of a previous foray into Downtown real-estate-billboard crossover, the company’s newest mural encompasses 3 of the 4 sides of the building (including the dog in an astronaut suit on the side opposite Leeland). Painting started in January, and a we’re-done-now party was thrown in early April. 

As was the case for the company’s red-tagged Main St. doggie-in-the-window signage, the newer mural incorporates some of the structure’s actual windows into the design — this time as a set of questionable-utility solar panel arrays on an artificial astronaut habitat:

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Leeland at Caroline
04/04/16 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: STILL LONGING FOR THE COMMERCIAL COMPANIONSHIP OF DAYS GONE BY freeway-billboards-old“I miss the billboards of my youth. I grew up in a world where the freeways were surrounded by them, and never thought much about it. Now that they are almost all gone, I realize they gave the city character. I don’t understand the hate for them.” [Memebag, commenting on Comment of the Day: What Keeps Houston Billboards Standing Tall] Illustration: Lulu

03/27/15 3:30pm

Billboard Removal, View at Manor Park Townhomes, Chartres St. at Tuam St., Third Ward, Houston

Billboard Removal, View at Manor Park Townhomes, Chartres St. at Tuam St., Third Ward, HoustonDowntown and freeway views from and to the View at Manor Park townhomes along Chartres St. just south of Tuam in the Third Ward just got a little clearer. Beginning this morning, a reader reports, crews dismantled and removed the freeway-side billboard that stood at one end of a row of townhomes angled for Downtown views in the 8-year-old development:

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Sign Down
01/22/15 5:15pm

3618-burlington-02

3618-burlington-01

Rising stately on its corner in the Westmoreland Historic District, a well-appointed and well-maintained hundred-year-plus-old mansion fitted with terraces, balconies, and porches features all the craftsmanship of its day — and one very large indicator of the present: this freeway-side billboard in the back yard, by the pool:

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In the Shade
10/03/14 3:45pm

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

10/18/13 3:30pm

Haven’t decided yet what you think should happen to the Astrodome? The preservation-minded folks at Our Astrodome hope that seeing this 26-ft. bedazzled semi just might do the trick. Starting Monday and running up to the elections on November 5, when voters will decide whether to approve — or not, and, as most suspect, doom the Dome to a more thorough demolition than what’s already happening — that $217 bond measure that would fund a renovation of the stadium into convention space, the tricked-out Dome Mobile will be rolling around town to spread the word about Proposition 2 and the world’s first domed stadium.

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09/13/13 11:00am

HIGHLY VISIBLE BILLBOARD REMINDS HOUSTON DRIVERS OF THE INVISIBILITY OF HOMELESSNESS You can’t miss it: Just south of Downtown, this pristine billboard went up recently above the northbound feeder of I-45. Its lonesome assertion, “Even the pigeons don’t see me,” is attributed to the “voice of the homeless.” What gives? Glasstire’s Paula Newton explains: “[I]t’s meant to raise awareness about homelessness. The billboard is a project by artist Jessica Crute in conjunction with a group show at Deborah Colton Gallery called Collective Identity. Crute [is] president and founder of a young non-profit organization Voice of the Homeless.” [Glasstire] Photo: Glasstire

05/02/11 9:23am

Upset at New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s oh-so-cruel insinuation that Houston isn’t much of a tourist town, local talk-show host Michael Berry has responded with an ad on this billboard, carefully situated at the scenic crotch between the Southwest Freeway feeder road and the Westpark Tollway near Chimney Rock, surrounded by a number of fine automotive repair establishments. It’s been 13 days since your outrageous insult, Senator. Apologize now or it’s just going to get worse. Sure hope it doesn’t have to come to that, but don’t think we won’t resort to putting a bunch of those inflatable gorillas on top of the Downtown Aquarium to get our point across — if we have to. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

10/22/10 7:20pm

BANDIT BILLBOARDS BANISHED By order of a U.S. district judge, 59 Houston-area billboards will be taken down over the next 12 months by the receiver in charge of the now-bankrupt company that erected them in violation of city ordinances. Approximately half of the billboards are between I-45 and 290 outside Beltway 8; none of them are on Highway 59. All were constructed recently outside Houston city limits but inside its “extraterritorial jurisdiction.” [Mayor’s Office; map (PDF); more detail from the Chronicle]

09/01/10 11:41am

Spoiler Alert! Okay, so you see that “Still a Virgin?” billboard off 59 on the way to work yesterday and then, y’know, curiosity gets the better of you and the next thing you know you’re in some sort of voicemail comedy hell. And then the feelings of regret set in. You start asking yourself, “Okay, did I just lose my movie-marketing-campaign virginity?” Well, hey — you can’t get that back again, but you can brush it off. Swamplot is here to uh . . . help:

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08/17/10 3:37pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: KICKING OFF THE GOLDEN AGE OF MONTROSE BLVD. EXTENDED PATIO DINING “This is so Houston it hurts. This has got to be nominated for some kind of best of/worst of award at the end of the year. I don’t know what the category is, but making a building less sidewalk and pedestrian friendly in order to accommodate a billboard is a classic.” [Cap’n McBarnacle, commenting on Must See This: Billboard Bunny Pushes Back New Montrose Office Tower]

08/16/10 12:48pm

The art-gallery building at 4411 Montrose, just north of the bridge over the Southwest Freeway, stands only a few feet back from the front sidewalk. But just one block south, the Midway Companies is planning to plant its new 13-story office tower (which, like 4411 Montrose, will feature a restaurant space on the ground floor and gallery spaces upstairs) a full 25 feet back from the Montrose Blvd. property line. But that’s not because Midway is shy about getting any variances necessary to get around mandated city setbacks.

No, Midway director Shon Link tells Swamplot the M Fifty-Nine building must stand clear of the bright yellow Clear Channel billboard that pokes out from the southwest corner of the property. Restrictions require the billboard to have a clear view of oncoming traffic driving south on Montrose. Currently peeking out from the bottom part of the billboard: The Nesquick Bunny.

Behind Montrose, M Fifty-Nine won’t be so shy with the streets:

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04/12/10 9:19am

Checking in from a center lane of I-10 heading east, a longtime Swamplot correspondent has a few questions for informed readers:

This ginormous new billboard structure went up last week at the CBS Outdoor HQ on Studemont at I-10. Is it legal? Was there a similar steel mega-billboard there before the remodeling of I-10, which obliged CBS (then Clear Channel Outdoor) to demolish part of the north end of its building? And what will become of this monstrous two-legged wedge-shaped structure when the feeder road will eventually be extended from Studewood to Taylor — will it be taken down, moved 100 feet and set up again?

Update: As noted in the comments, Off the Kuff has a slightly earlier photo of the naked billboard.

Photo: Swamplot inbox