01/29/14 4:45pm

Violin Man Don Luis Cruz at Woodbridge and I-45, Gulfgate, Houston

Don Luis Cruz, also known as the octogenarian violinist often found trilling and harmonizing with Gulfgate traffic, passed away yesterday at Pasadena’s Bayshore Medical Center, having reached the age of 90. He was a daily fixture at the intersection of Woodridge Dr. and the Gulf Fwy. feeder road until the summer of 2012, when he was beaten by a man in a wheelchair over the money in Cruz’s violin case. “Over the years,” writes the Chronicle‘s Craig Hlavaty, “crooks targeted The Violin Man for his tip money, bike, moped and even his amp. After each incident, however, Cruz would ignore his family’s pleas and head back out to his corner.” This video feature on Cruz’s string habit aired on Telemundo in 2011:


04/30/13 11:45am

BRINGING THE STREETS DOWNTOWN RIGHT INTO THE LOBBIES Why isn’t there more street life Downtown? A recent architectural exhibition suggests that one cause might be the sealed world of a tunnel system that’s accessed mainly through closed-off corporate lobbies: “[Rice University’s Bryony Roberts] argues that these [sites] provide opportunities for a new type of public space that would more effectively integrate street activity and subterranean circulation,” explains OffCite’s Helen B. Bechtel. Using studies of One Allen Center, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Reliant Energy Plaza, and Wells Fargo Plaza — imagined here to include ramp-like pedestrian feeders — Roberts shows how “otherwise segregated interior and exterior public spaces” might be linked. The exhibition’s on view — where else? — in the One Allen Center lobby at 1200 Smith. [OffCite; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Bryony Roberts via OffCite

04/29/13 3:30pm

From Alex Luster, a submission for KUHF’s “This is Houston” curatorial video contest that documents another beautification effort of the streets of Houston.

Video: Alex Luster via YouTube

04/06/11 9:27am

Urban-design nerds, street-festival fans, and earnest neighborhood do-gooders will converge on a block of Holman St. near LaBranch this Saturday to play a little game of make-believe: They’ll be imagining what it might be like if Houston had some sort of street life. From 10 am to 10 pm, they’ll be hanging out on a Third Ward Midtown block quickly made up to look as if it did: with painted-in bike lanes, instant street trees in planters, a pop-up cafe in a portable building parked on the street, food trucks, and maybe even a farmers’ market. And they’ll be smiling pedestrian-friendly smiles.


04/07/08 11:28am

Google Street View Coverage of Houston

Last week Google rolled out a major update of its Street View feature, adding 13 new cities and a national park, and expanding its coverage in 6 cities . . . including Houston. The map above shows the extent of the Houston street-level photos now available through Google Maps.

Previously, street views from Google Maps were available only from major thoroughfares in the Houston area. Now, they are available on just about every street . . . within the areas marked in blue. South Houston, plus areas west of 290 and 288 outside the Loop are now mapped street by street. But most inside-the-loop neighborhoods are still left out.

Strangely, this means Google Map addicts can stalk Cypress subdivisions virtually street by street, but views of Southampton are limited to sideways glances from Shepherd and Bissonnet.

After the jump: a sampling of the new street-level views of westside neighborhoods!


08/09/07 10:42am

Downtown Houston from I-45 North, As Seen from Google Maps Street View

Google has just added its Street View feature to Houston Google Maps. This means that you too can experience what it’s like to drive around parts of this city with a 360-degree camera mounted to the top of your Chevy Cobalt—all from the privacy of your own computer.

Google first rolled out Street View in May for the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami. Several websites have sprung up to document interesting streetlife recorded by Google’s cameras.

For Houston, of course, Street View is much more exciting: at last, online photos of all your favorite strip centers, parking lots, and freeways. Occasionally a pedestrian gets in the way to mar a view, but most of the shots are much cleaner.