11/27/17 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT THE WEATHER “I lived in Washington, DC for 8 years and the typical Washington summer day is every bit as miserable as a Houston summer day. (There are somewhat fewer of them, of course.) And all summer, the streets were crowded with people walking. In the dead of winter, when it was 20 degrees out, the streets were full of people walking. The difference is that the city was built for walking; sidewalks rarely vanished mid block. Pedestrian crossings weren’t a mile apart. There were relatively few city streets eight lanes wide to get across. Obviously the central city density was a big part of that, but funny thing: people seem to actually like walking. Part of that time I lived in Arlington, VA, which is about like the Heights in density, and I thought nothing of walking 15 minutes up the street to the Metro station or the main boulevard where the shops and cafes and whatnot were. I also would regularly visit friends in Takoma Park, MD, another surburban-ish area, and . . . people walked. When I was in college in upstate NY, people walked (most students didn’t have cars on campus, because why would you have a car on campus). People walked 20 minutes downtown on subzero nights to go drinking. People trudged up the giant hill to campus in snow and wind. They could wait for the campus shuttle bus a lot of the time . . . but mostly they didn’t. They walked. There are very real reasons that people don’t walk as much in Houston, but the weather ain’t one of them.” [John (another one), commenting on Comment of the Day: Walking Is Not Native to Houston] Illustration: Lulu

05/26/17 6:00pm

Okay. So. There’s a little bit of rain scheduled for Monday — but so far none of the forecasts seem to be showing anything like what turned up during the last few Memorial Day weekends. Swamplot’s gonna go ahead and take the day off anyway. Here’s hoping you and yours have a fun, safe, and largely dry break, if you’re getting one. (And if you don’t — we’ll still meet you back here on Tuesday to wade back into the Bayou City’s murky real estate waters, together.)

Photo of I-45, May 2015: Marc Longoria

Remembering Memorial Day
02/14/17 11:00am

Tornado Damage near Bridlewood and Tara, Fort Bend County, TX, 77469

HISD and some of the southern swath of the Houston region have so far spent Valentine’s Day under a patchwork of school district shelter-in-place orders, this time in response to the tornado warnings that rolled through the upper Texas coast this morning (all since downgraded back to mere watch levels). A funnel did touch down near Needville around 8:30 and move roughly northeast toward First Colony, causing a number of structural rearrangements like the ones above (captured along Crabb River Rd. by the documentarians at the Fort Bend County sheriff’s office). The agency took a few more shots of the area’s roughing up:


Fort Bend Unfenced
08/30/16 11:15am

Allen brothers' Houston sales ad

It’s that time again — Houston’s birthday celebration, observed traditionally on the anniversary of the publication of the Allen brothers’ newspaper ads offering land for sale in the area in 1836. Among the more eyebrow-worthy claims put forward by the founders: that the “beautifully-elevated” area (depicted nestled amid a clutch of towering hills) was already the site of regular steamboat traffic (the Laura wouldn’t make the first steamboat run up the sandy twists of Buffalo Bayou to Allen’s Landing until the following year), and that the area “[enjoys] the sea breeze in all its freshness” and is “well-watered” (that part, at least, is likely undisputed).

The ad text also claims that “Nature appears to have designated this place for the future seat of Government,” though Lisa Gray suggests this morning that a few well-timed gifts to members of the newly-minted Texas Legislature may have been responsible as well. Gray writes that the city hosted the Texas government from 1837 until the legislators, tired of the heat and mosquitoes, voted to move elsewhere in 1839.

Here’s the ad in its entirety, as it appeared 180 years ago today in the Telegraph and Texas Register:


And Many More
08/09/16 10:30am

For at least the 3rd time this summer, the city is back in emergency heat plan mode in the face of the in-the-shade 105 to 110 heat indices forecast across the area yesterday afternoon (and again today, from 1 to 7 pm). The plan kicks in when indices hang around 108 for more than 1 day in a row. A chat with the folks at 311 will get you a ride to one of the nearest air-conditioned chillout centers, mapped above — the majority are public libraries (marked in yellow), with a few municipal multiservice centers thrown in for color (namely blue). The list of centers is also broken out by postal code on the city’s emergency website, along with each spot’s operating hours — in the process providing a quick review of how some of those turn-of-the-decade library hours cuts shook out.

Map of emergency cooling centers: City of Houston

Reading is Cool
07/11/16 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW ASTRODOME DÉJÀ-VU COULD FUEL THE NEXT HOUSTON BOOM AND BUST Carnival in the Astrodome“We shouldn’t have a [tourism] industry because it’s cyclical? Hello — oil industry? That’s the epitome of a cyclical industry. But I do agree with Memebag: Our climate absolutely sucks for an outdoor tourism industry, not to mention being the only city I’ve ever seen that had all the pollution of a deepwater port with none of the scenery. If only we had a gigantic, air conditioned space that could hold an amusement park . . .” [Chris C., commenting on Comment of the Day: Houston Is Not Here For Your Entertainment] Photo of 2007 carnival inside the Astrodome: Jeff Balke

01/22/16 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: INSTIGATING LATITUDINAL PROPRIETY IN HOUSTON’S PALETTE Skyline” . . . Houston is a colorful town. The skies are usually blue. The live oaks stay green in the winter. Azaleas, wildflowers, oleanders and crepe myrtles color our city throughout the warm months. Our interior design should not be inspired by landscapes that are above the Arctic Circle. Houston is a dynamic, multicultural city. We do not have to snap into line with the latest design fad. We can do better. Please. Just try it. One time. That is all I am asking.” [Old School, commenting on An Early Peek at the Galleria’s New Saks 5th Avenue Space and the Restaurant Inside] Illustration: Lulu

01/07/14 11:30am

IT’S BEEN COLDER THAN USUAL IN KATY Frozen Fountain, Avalon at Seven Meadows, Katy, Texas“Subdivision Waterfalls” may have been frozen out of the winners’ circle in the Favorite Design Cliché category of the just-concluded Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, but the florid fountain-turned-ice sculpture fronting the Avalon at Seven Meadows development off Fry Rd. west of the Grand Parkway in Katy has been thrilling and chilling onlookers since early this morning. Photo: Andrea Musetti-Camacho, via Bill Bishop/KHOU

08/05/13 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: IT’S TOO MUGGY TO WALK HERE “IMO people in Houston do not walk as much as they do in other cities. I have a friend who lives at West Ave and drives to Whole foods across the street, stuff like that. This is why Houston hasn’t had more ground floor retail in the past and we require 2375646523 parking spaces per 200 unit apt complex. Now everyone blames the heat for not walking, but I blame it on laziness and crime. If you build a walker friendly area that is safe like on west gray or west ave then people will come.” [benny, commenting on Comment of the Day: Would Ground Floor Retail Work in the Rice Village?] Illustration: Lulu

05/01/13 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO MAKE A HOUSTON SUMMER THAT MUCH HOTTER “I thought it was crazy to schedule an outdoor music festival in summer, too, and then I went one year and found myself surrounded by 10,000 girls in barely-there bikinis, and realized that an outdoor summer festival in Houston is, in fact, a stroke of genius. (And the heat wasn’t bad at all that year — the second Summerfest, I believe.)” [Anse, commenting on The Montrose Bar Where Souls Will Be Exchanged for Cocktails?]

03/27/13 11:30am

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE HOT MANTRA “It hasn’t been ‘too hot’ to cycle comfortably for nearly six months. It’ll be reasonably comfortable for nearly two more, until we near the end of May. Summer will suck, but thousands will still be cycling. The same is not true for large swaths of the country which are currently sitting under feet of snow. Houston Summers are less inhospitable to outdoor activities than Winters are in many large cities; and our Spring and Fall are as good or better than most. The ‘it’s too hot’ mantra is tired, lame, and false. [jon, commenting on Designing Houston’s Bicycle Underbelly]

10/12/09 10:40pm

From his perch high in the (formerly AIG) America Tower on Allen Parkway, Swamplot reader Stephen Cullar-Ledford forwards this latest dramatic scene, which aches for suitably metaphorical captioning.

A few months ago it was fog, this afternoon it’s a rainbow over downtown . . .

Photo: Stephen Cullar-Ledford

06/01/09 3:14pm

The ravages of the Katy Prairie have taken their toll on the models and unburied treasure at Forbidden Gardens, reports Brittanie Shey:

In 1996, when the museum first opened, it must have been an amazingly detailed sight. But [Forbidden Gardens founder Ira] Poon and his builders didn’t account for the Houston heat and humidity, which ruined a lot of the hand-painted details. Each terra cotta soldier used to hold a wooden weapon in his hand, but reckless children would climb into the display and take the swords to play with. When the soldiers started to break or peel, it was impossible to order more because the molds had been destroyed. [Weekend manager Alicia] Mendez said she and coworkers spend a few hours each summer having at the displays with Gorilla Glue to fix what they can.