How Many Downtowns Does Houston Have?

HOW MANY DOWNTOWNS DOES HOUSTON HAVE? Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria Area, Houston, 77056The list of Houston neighborhoods with potential to be mistaken for Downtown by outsiders, Blake Mathews of KHOU writes this week, is long, and includes at least “Uptown (Galleria), the Texas Medical Center, Greenspoint, Greenway Plaza, The Woodlands and perhaps even Westchase.” So what makes a Downtown? Mathews runs through some factors for consideration, ranging from the city’s population density center (which falls somewhere west of Downtown) to total office space (Uptown has less than downtown Houston, but more than downtown Denver) to building height (with a specific shoutout to the Williams Tower, pictured here.) [KHOU] Photo of Williams Tower: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

10 Comment

  • This is a ‘Houston we have a problem’ not unique to Houston. For instance, downtown NYC is lower Manhattan, but if you’re on the observation deck at the Empire State Building, you feel at the center. Downtown Chicago is the loop, which excludes the Magnificent Mile. A closer comparison: Los Angeles is pocked by CBDs even more so than Houston. However, what is unique to Houstonians is only for us is this an issue.

  • Any one of these areas in most cities in the US would easily qualify due to the investments made in the real estate, however what sets “downtown” apart from the others is the fact that it is the seat of power (city hall and major courts) and the center of most of the major cultural facilities in the city. If Houston was topographically bound, like New York or San Francisco, these outlying business hubs wouldn’t exist in their current size.

  • Thank you WR.
    Don’t tell those clever developers at City Centre.

  • Greenspoint? The WOODLANDS?? Mistaken for downtown??? The names themselves seem chosen to mean downtown’s antithesis. With about 4 real buildings each? Tell me, who exactly are these people who are mistaking these exburban wastelands for downtown.

  • @detroux: An issue? Not sure what you mean. I remember in the 1980s a French TV crew shot a documentary about the (then) Transco Tower. They were fascinated with a single tall building standing by itself. So Houston’s dispersed business districts have been interesting to others.

  • @Memebag I’d love to check out that documentary… Do you happen to know the title?

    I prefer to phrase the issue how we interact with visitors and the occasional tourist in accordance with our urban identity versus suburban identity versus our exurban identity versus our rural identity. Each carries a different definition of downtown based on proximity. (Googling downtown houston will yield the most precise definition.) My point is, Houston is unique only in sense the city limits encompass all aforementioned identities.

  • @detroux: re Transco Tower doc: Sorry, I don’t know the name. Google can’t find it, either. I know about it because my dad worked on it.
    re “urban identity versus suburban identity versus our exurban identity “: Huh?

  • @Memebag, are you sure that the subject of the documentary was the Transco Tower? In 1981, there was a French documentary called Houston, Texas about a cop killer named Charles Bass. Who knows, the film crew may have gotten sidetracked by the Transco Tower and spent some time filming it.

  • @GoogleMaster: I may be confused. Either there are 2 docs and my dad worked on both of them, or he worked on one and told me about another. Or maybe I’m just confused.

  • There was a book published back in the late 1980’s called “Presence” that was a collection of photographs taken from various far-flung spots in Houston where the then Transco Tower showed up on the horizon. Not a documentary, but maybe the idea for one came from the other?