Where Houstonians Hide from Tourists

WHERE HOUSTONIANS HIDE FROM TOURISTS Writing in the travel section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, devoted Cardinal fan and reporter Diane Toroian Keaggy blows the lid off the great Houston population hoax: “Who am I to argue with the U.S. Census, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and Post-Dispatch pal and Houston native Aisha Sultan? But no way is Houston the nation’s fourth largest city. Where are the people? Certainly not downtown, which cleared out immediately after the Astros win. The Museum District, easily reachable from downtown by rail and home to the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum and Museum of Natural Science, also seemed strangely quiet. We wanted to visit the Contemporary Art Museum, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, the Menil Collection, the Houston Center of Photography and the wacky folk-art mecca called the Orange Show. Each was closed on Tuesday. We could have visited the Space Center Houston, which includes the tram tour of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, but it’s 25 miles south of downtown and costs $21. That’s too much money and time for a short two-day trip. Instead we visited the Museum of Fine Arts, which features an impressive collection of Impressionism and the Weather Museum, which feels more like a seventh-grade science project than an actual attraction. Don’t bother. . . . We continued our search for life at the Galleria, one of the nation’s top malls. A-ha! So that’s where everyone was hiding. Home to Fendi, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Tory Burch and other impossibly expensive boutiques not found in St. Louis, the Galleria boasts 375 shops spread across two large buildings. Bring comfy, but fashionable, shoes. The mall claims to attract 24 million shoppers each year, and only a few seemed to be buying Gucci glasses, Kate Spade earrings and Jimmy Choo pumps. The rest could be found skating on the indoor ice rink or slumming it in Banana Republic, Apple and Claire’s.” [STLToday]

42 Comment

  • That’s pretty low! Someone from the midwest has pointed out our apparent lack of culture! In a newspaper only read by other people who live in the midwest, nevertheless! Egad! Apparently she didn’t think to look for us at strip mall restaurants!


  • Museums used to be the only places one could witness items from far away lands or pictures from famous artists. Now days name me one thing you can’t see on TV or the Internet. Why would I go see the “Hard Copy” when I can visit a dozen museums all over the world in 30 minutes and remain in my underwear. And don’t start whining “it’s not the same as seeing it in person”… for all intents and purposes it’s close enough.

  • He forgot to check: restaurants, the suburbs, and the Chick-fil-A at 59 and Kirby

  • They must’ve used that invisible subway, it’s pretty hard to drive to the Galleria on any given day and not get a sense of the population here…

  • Speaking as the parent of two small children I can tell you that looking at dinosaur skeletons on the computer is absolutely not the same as viewing them up close. Diane should have tried to visit the Zoo, Children’s Museum or HMNS on a sunny weekend day. Each will be heaving with the people she couldn’t find on Tuesday when they were all at work and school.

  • Gee, looking for people on a TUESDAY. Where are all the Houstontians?? Um, how about @ WORK.

  • Houston has tourists? People who come to visit for fun rather than work/obligation? Doubtful.

  • That’s strange – I went to St. Louis on a weekday and had NO WAIT AT ALL to go up in the Arch. Must be because everybody from there came here.

    To belittle the Weather Museum is also rather small of the writer. Playing with the green screen there is a hoot (Hint – take a green scarf along). It’s an attraction that’s just getting started – comparable to where the HMNS was oh, about 60 years ago.

    The ByzFresco Museum and Menil are part of the same complex – no surprise they are closed the same day.

    Bet she didn’t look in the tunnels downtown!

  • I once took a visitor walking around downtown Houston on a hot, muggy September weekday and he asked the same thing “where are all the people?”. He had his “aha” moment when I took him into the air-conditioned tunnels. Unfortunately, there’s nothing touristy about the tunnels.

  • For those who are not aware, the Galleria is the “tourist mall.” It is last place in Houston that national retailers reduce prices on old items or move in the new seasonal merchandise. If you need to do some real shopping, find the same retailer at a different location.

  • Does anyone really care what someone from St Louis thinks about Houston? It might hard for someone to imagine that a city as big as Houston would actually have more than one place for people to go. Go back to your arch and enjoy the flood. And please send Berkman back home.

  • In Houston we work on Tuesdays.

    I don’t know what you do with your Tuesdays in St. Louis, but a discrepancy may be related to the difference in the two cities’ trajectories.

  • If you google the words HOUSTON, WORLD and CLASS, you get 24,400,000 results. The Post-Dispatch writer obviously didn’t consult with the Greater Houston Partnership in the preparation of her piece. Tsk, tsk…

  • us houstonians are poor folk and know you wait for thrusdays to go do all that junk for free. I dare her to brave the children’s museum on a thursday evening.

  • What I love about Houston is the fact that we do not have the kind of history, architecture and culture that attracts a bunch of idiots from the Midwest.

    And for the record, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY is also closed on Tuesdays.

  • Don’t feed the troll. Even if that troll is old school…


  • No trolling. I am absolutely serious. I love visiting NY, Chicago, San Fran, Paris, London, but would never want to live in any of those tourist infested cities. I do not want to share my museums with people from St. Louis. I do not want to share my restaurants with people from Cleveland. I do not want to share the opera and symphony with shlubs from Indanapolis. Let NY and Chicago entertain those clods while we all enjoy restaurants that are just as good, not as expensive and free of people with cackling midwest accents pulling out giant maps to find there way to the next tourist trap.

  • @Patrick, how dare you sir.

    @Old School, Yeah! We purposefully tear down all our old buildings just to keep those idiots away. Wait… .

  • Tourists???? in HOUSTON????


  • Wow, the Museum District seemed strangely quiet–did this woman actually go into the zoo or any museums? Or just drive on through?

    I stayed in downtown St. Louis last summer in the hotel that has incorporated their old grand central station (beautiful art nouveau building BTW)and I could say exactly the same thing about that city, too. Not only was the mall in the hotel complex dead, when we walked to the City Museum, we could count the number of people we actually saw on the street on one hand.

  • Being 25 miles away is no excuse to skip NASA. Midday on a Tuesday, it’s a pretty quick drive. Compare that trip to using the subway to get from The Cloisters in NYC to the BAM in Brooklyn, or the Metro from Old Town, Alexandria to Dumbarton Oaks – I’m sure downtown to NASA is faster.

    And +1 to everyone who pointed out she skipped the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which is behind on the Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History in number of annual visitors. Open Tuesdays.

  • And just how much international tonnage does St. Louis have coming into THEIR port each year? Anywhere close to 220 million tons?!!

  • But you don’t have to rent a car and *drive* between BAM and the Cloisters. You don’t have to rent a car and *drive* from Alexandria to Dumbarton Oaks. You can take public transportation. It’s a world of difference.

  • Hell, it was bad enough sharing the Astrodome with Astro-tourists from Muskogee, OK.

  • One can only hope that someday we will be the kind of cosmopolitan meccas that springs to mind when one hears, “St. Louis.”

  • The rest of Houston is standing in line to eat at Hillstone’s/Houston’s on Kirby and 59.

  • Where are all the people in St. Louis?
    Census Population %Change
    1950 856,796
    1960 750,026 −12.5%
    1970 622,236 −17.0%
    1980 452,801 −27.2%
    1990 396,685 −12.4%
    2000 348,189 −12.2%
    2010 319,294 −8.3%

  • Miz Smith- taking the Metro from Old Town Alexandria to Dumbarton Oaks requires a long walk or a long wait for a bus. Old Town to the National Zoo is a better example. Tourists to DC should take full advantage of the Metro system; they helped pay for it.

  • @Temple – from the sounds of it, I bet many of the people from St. Louis are here in Houston!

    @Jim – indeed. Metro is the most painless way to get lots of places. I admit I ride it more as a visitor now than I ever did as a resident, though; I worked in Tysons so it wasn’t much help for commuting.

  • In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.
    Been to StL recently? Think boil on the anus of urban decay.

  • “From commonsense:

    Museums used to be the only places one could witness items from far away lands or pictures from famous artists. Now days name me one thing you can’t see on TV or the Internet. Why would I go see the “Hard Copy” when I can visit a dozen museums all over the world in 30 minutes and remain in my underwear. And don’t start whining “it’s not the same as seeing it in person”… for all intents and purposes it’s close enough.”

    Besides, why would a philistine need to visit a museum in the first place. (Glad to know I’ll never run into you in a museum.)

  • Ah, you must be one the antiques that think going to a museum is high culture. Museums main purpose is to convey information… hate to break it to you but there’s no NEW information at a museum. In 5 seconds on the internet I can see the Mona Lisa, read about it’s history, mystery, and tons of opinions on it and move on with my life. In todays world, speed and volume of information is crucial to success, I’m sorry if you can’t keep up.

    P.S. Did you go to Smoke Signal Communications because you were looking for some fire logs and a blanket?

  • Since when was $21 too much to view commander seats?

  • commonsense, you might want to quit now before someone comments explicitly on how you could be hinting about your indulgence of….um….companionship wants.

  • I used to work in St. Louis and it’s a cultural and social backwater that’s basically a small town wrapped in a big city package complete with myopic and provincial opinions regarding most things. The only saving grace when living there was that I traveled most of the time and got to be around normal people everywhere else. Reminds me of the old Steve Martin routine where he played the ignorant yet opinionated tourist gawking at things he’d never seen before.

  • Applying commonsense’s comment above to interpersonal relationships, one arrives at the inevitability of the Fleshlight.

  • I moved to Houston from STL but am not a native of either city. For a smaller city STL isn’t a bad place. I lived downtown and walked everywhere. It was dense enough and along Washington there was plenty of life. St. Louis has more miles of light rail and more cultural attractions per capita. Yeah, it has blight but have you driven up 45 or 59 or, for that matter, anywhere but the SW quadrant of inside 610? Houston is more prosperous, sure, but it lacks the old city charm, diversity in architecture, and walkable neighborhoods of the older and denser cities. I know i am going to get crap for saying all this but each city does have its plusses. And in all honesty Houston is spookily devoid of any streetlife just about everywhere except 5 blocks of Westheimer in Montrose. But it is what it is.

  • Houston does get sparse on things to do.

    Although when I have visitors this is what we’ll do: walk through the arboretum in Memorial Park, charter a sail-boat in Galveston Bay, ride bicycles through Terry Hershey Park, etc. generally plenty of active things.

    However, Houston doesn’t have a core community, like the French Market or New York City, to experience.

    However, however we do have plenty of fantastic places to experience top-notch cuisine.

  • I think there’s plenty to do in Houston–however, someone coming from out of town might not be able to easily find all those things. (Heck, I think of myself as pretty plugged in, and I often find that I’ve missed some Houston-area event that I might have enjoyed.) For obvious reasons, we’re a somewhat inward-looking city. We don’t have a big tourist infrastructure (public and private) that a lot of other cities do–infrastructure that guides people easily and smoothly towards the touristy attractions.

  • Ha, this made me laugh. I have British relatives who have never visited Houston. When we sent them some photos taken here, they asked, Where’s all the people?, to which we replied: “At the mall”! So no, Houston is not a crowded city with people thronging the streets like London, thank goodness!

  • We have tourists? Really? Reminds me of the contest in “Time” that was the brainchild of Elyse Lanier and the “Expect the Unexpected” flop of a tag line. The full-page ad offered entrants a chance to win a trip to Houston. Reports were that a whopping three entries were received.

    The STL reporter wondered whereall the people were. Probably in their cars. Houston is the geographically largest city (i.e., we have the most square miles) in the U.S. We have ROOM for our 2.1 million (or 6 million in the metro area) people, unlike the older, smaller cities of NYC, Chicago, Boston. And sadly, we don’t have much foot traffic. Though I imagine if the reporter had been in Montrose, Midtown, or Rice Military (Washington Ave)–or even Memorial Park, depending on the time of day–s/he’d have seen the people. Also, she said nice things about Anvil, so that’s good.

    Though I do have to say: it is weird that we have a few small-town quirks such as attractions being closed on Tuesdays. Maybe it’s due to the outdated “blue laws”?