01/22/16 11:30am

CELEBRATING LAURA DAY, AND THE CON THAT MADE THE CITY Packet steamer LauraOn this day in 1837 — according to Houstorian, Houston’s “loudest preservation group” — the packet steamer Laura shoved its way up Buffalo Bayou through sand bars and tortuous snags to Allen’s Landing in what is now Downtown Houston. The trip proved publicly for the first time that such a voyage was actually possible, though the Allen Brothers had already been promising as much to investors for months in their “highly exaggerated” advertisements of the new town. Houstorian teamed up with the Bayou Preservation Association last night to celebrate the grand con’s success; the now-annual Laura Day event took place this year at Public Services Wine & Whisky, housed in the 1884 Cotton Exchange Building at the corner of Travis and Franklin — just a few blocks west of the Laura’s purported landing site at the foot of Main St. [Houstorian] Historic photo of the steamship Laura: Houstorian

06/30/15 12:45pm

The Dunlavy, Lost Lake, Buffalo Bayou Park, North Montrose, Houston

The Dunlavy, Lost Lake, Buffalo Bayou Park, North Montrose, HoustonA reader sends pics of 3 notable new features near the western end of Buffalo Bayou Park that appear to be just about complete: The multi-purpose private event space known as The Dunlavy, overlooking a restored and upgraded pond now called Lost Lake — and its signature central feature, a bell-mouth spillway to suck up the overflow, referred to more commonly as a morning glory. That’s the hole in the middle of the water feature; if you look closely at the photos of it below you can see the odd sight of the tip of a construction ladder peeking out at the top:


And the Dunlavy, Almost Done
04/17/15 11:00am

Johnny Steele Dog Park After Heavy Rains, Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston

No Buffalo Bayou Park fun this morning for Swamplot coverdog Kep, on account of the whole Johnny Steele Dog Park at the intersection of Studemont and Allen Pkwy. is flooded after yesterday’s downpours. Which is what a bayou-side park is expected to do during and after weather like yesterday’s.

More pics of the scene:


When Buffalo Bayou Spreads
02/18/15 3:15pm

Wortham Insurance Visitors Center, Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston

Here’s a photo from earlier this month showing construction progress on the new Wortham Insurance Visitors Center on Sabine St., fronting the “Waterworks” area of the ever-expanding Buffalo Bayou Park complex. When it’s complete — sometime this summer — the 2,736-sq.-ft. building will house an info desk, a bike-rental facility, and — yes — restrooms. A terrace on top will be available for special events. A gaggle of insurance companies led by Wortham Insurance donated $750K toward the building’s more-than-$1-million construction cost.

The building, designed by Page — the same firm responsible for the buildings on Discovery Green — is meant to serve as the “primary gateway” to Buffalo Bayou Park, including these surrounding features:


Same Wortham, Different Center
09/23/14 1:00pm

How long has it been since you’ve run along, rowed along, or flown over Buffalo Bayou? Guy-out-with-his-Phantom-quadcopter Marco Luzuriaga filmed this scene earlier this month above a short section of the city’s most prominent drainage canal beginning near the Rosemont Bridge, then turning around and heading a ways toward Downtown. He gives up on the waterway and substitutes a bit of downtown-tangling freeway spaghetti near the end, but if you look into the distance around the 1:30 mark, you can catch a quick progress report on reconstruction of Buffalo Bayou Park.

Video: Marco Luzuriaga, via Brittanie Shey


Tour by Drone
01/09/14 10:15am

Plan for Memorial Park Demonstration Project, Buffalo Bayou near River Oaks, Houston

in this week’s Houston Press, writer Dianna Wray wades into the murky waters surrounding the Harris County Flood Control District’s plan to move and rebuild the banks of Buffalo Bayou where it winds between Memorial Park and the River Oaks Country Club. The method of “natural channel design” the district plans to use in the $6 million project is meant to keep the bayou in place, using downed trees instead of concrete. But weren’t bayous born to wiggle? “If the Army Corps of Engineers approves the Memorial Park Demonstration Project permit application,” Wray writes, “construction workers could move in by the end of this year, using heavy equipment and saws to reshape the bayou according to a pattern that should, if the method is successful, lock the waterway into a form it will hold for generations to come. If the effort fails, the entire project could be blown down the river by one heavy flood, leaving nothing but naked, unprotected soil where the last of an ancient forest once stood.”

Plan of Memorial Park Demonstration Project: Harris County Flood Control District

The Banks of River Oaks
10/23/13 4:30pm

Here’s a rendering that shows how that informal dog bowl along Buffalo Bayou near Montrose Blvd. will be formalized and capitalized into a Dog Park. Construction, says a PR rep for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, will begin the first of the year; the park should be open next winter.

Why, you might wonder, would it take that long to build a place for dogs to romp and run and bark and stuff? Part of it will be creating the pond you can see in the rendering. The pond, which will be treated with a “bio-filter” and native vegetation, is meant to keep said dogs 1) safe and 2) away from the bayou, so they don’t muddy up the banks scrambling in and out of the water and contribute to erosion. Other additions? A purty fence that will separate the pups from the joggers and 2 pavilions, at the top of the hill, that will provide a bit more shade.

Rendering: SWA Group

09/26/13 10:00am

Here’s a concept that HKS came up with for a site just behind the Hotel Granduca, Montebello, and Villa d’Este towers in Uptown Park. The concept shows how it might go if you wanted to build a conference center and a combo hotel-condo tower on 14 green acres between Tilbury and N. Wynden off S. Post Oak, just west of the Loop. This rendering shows the boxy exterior of what appears to be the conference center flanking a linear park shooting off from the banks of Buffalo Bayou.


09/24/13 12:05pm

Now have at it: SmartGeometrics has made available for free on a website launched yesterday the data from 3D scans of the allegedly leaky, 87,500-sq.-ft. 1927 underground water reservoir near Sabine St. along Buffalo Bayou. Though the Buffalo Bayou Partnership would like to do something cool with the “accidental cathedral,” as Houston Chronicle columnist and cistern sympathizer Lisa Gray has called it, there’s no more funding available. Thus, the partnership is hoping some smart cookie who knows her way around AutoCAD (and programs like it) will use this free data to come up with an idea that woos someone or something else — like, say, Bud Light — to pay to make it happen.

Image: Buffalo Bayou Park

09/23/13 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN IT RAINS, IT’S RECOUPED “I live close to Buffalo Bayou. I lost two cars during a heavy rain in 2009. The water came up too fast to save the cars. By the time I found out they were flooding they were in a couple feet of snake infested water. The insurance company paid up right away and didn’t raise my rates. These people should have no problem if they have insurance.” [jgriff, commenting on Headlines: Putting the Creek in Cross Creek Ranch; Flooding the Omni Hotel Parking Lot] Illustration: Lulu

09/09/13 12:30pm

WHAT’S BEST FOR BUFFALO BAYOU? Let it flow, or let it be? Environmentalists and the Harris County Flood Control District disagree — at least when it comes to the 1.5-mile stretch that contributes to the “jungly ecosystem” of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary in Memorial Park, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray. A “restoration” plan proposed by the flood controllers, explains Gray, “would change the bayou’s course in places, fill in an oxbow here, reinforce banks there, widen the bayou’s channel, raising and lowering landmasses and generally move an enormous amount of dirt. [They argue] that the proposed measures are desperately needed to reduce erosion and improve water quality.” They’d do it here as they did it at Meyer Park along Spring Creek, reports Gray. But the environmentalists don’t seem to consider that to have been a “restoration” project, really: “‘Look at that!” [Memorial Park Conservancy board member Katy Emde] told me, outraged, showing me a picture of Meyer Park on her phone. ‘There’s no diversity! It’s not natural! It’s not habitat! It’s horrifying.'” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hogg Bird Sanctuary: Bayou Shuttle

09/03/13 10:00am

Dude! Got a snazzy idea for that 1927 underground water reservoir near Sabine St. on Buffalo Bayou, but you just can’t picture what’s down there? Well, grab the potato chips and crank up Pink Floyd, because now you can. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is reaching out in the hope that entrepreneurs, artists, and visionaries the city over will use the above video, created by SmartGeometrics, for inspiration. (And more 3D images are forthcoming on the partnership’s website.)


08/30/13 11:15am

The dirty work continues: Here are some photos of the progress, as of last night, of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s big plan to soup up the soupy waterway.

Above, you can see the new view from Eleanor Tinsley Park, where site work is underway for the Bud Light Amphitheater. Picnic tables, a volleyball court, playground equipment, and a few pine trees are all long gone.

After the jump, you can see more photos of dirt. And photos of the newest pedestrian bridge, inserted between the Houston Police Memorial and the rear of Glenwood Cemetery.


08/19/13 2:15pm

USING PICTURES TO PICTURE USES FOR BUFFALO BAYOU’S BASEMENT There’s still no real plan for that 1927 underground reservoir along Buffalo Bayou near Sabine St. But, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray — one devoted parishioner of this “accidental cathedral” — there’s now a new technology in place that might help would-be entrepreneurs visualize the possibilities: “SmartGeometrics, a company whose main business is creating super-precise 3-D digital models of real places . . . will show video-game-like digital models to the public . . . and will explain how, soon, the data will be available to anyone who wants to plug it into his design software. . . . ‘This is a starting point for us,’ [Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Guy Hagstette] says. ‘We’re trying to decide on the big picture. What should the concept be? Is it environmental art? A giant nightclub? A parking garage?” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: SWA Group

08/07/13 5:00pm

Thanks to $2 million from Silver Eagle Distributors, which is also putting up that new beer dispensary in Pasadena, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership might to be able to afford to turn Eleanor Tinsley Park into something as purty as what you see in the rendering above. That means the existing “event meadow” down below there along Allen Pkwy. will be scooped out and rid of the volleyball court, playground equipment, picnic shelters, and some of the pine trees, then re-landscaped and rechristened the Bud Light Amphitheater; more parking and stairs will be introduced; and a new “Skyline Overlook” pavilion will be built and named in honor of Silver Eagle prez and CEO John Nau.

The dirty work began earlier this month, says the BBP, part of the overall project to install new swag like pedestrian bridges and remove invasive species, transforming the 2.3-mile stretch, BBP prez Anne Olson explained a few months ago to Free Press Houston, into an “11 acre urban prairie.”

Rendering: SWA Group