Poking Around in Buffalo Bayou’s Abandoned Basement

POKING AROUND IN BUFFALO BAYOU’S ABANDONED BASEMENT Lisa Gray finds echoes, art, and a few dramatic rays of light in the giant abandoned 1927 underground reservoir near the Buffalo Bayou at Sabine St., under the planned site of a new outdoor performance pavilion: “The question now, of course, is what to do with the Cistern. [Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Guy] Hagstette says that everyone now agrees it won’t be used for parking or storage. But what should it be? How should the public have access to it? And how will it be paid for? (The Cistern was discovered after the Buffalo Bayou Project had budgeted all its Shepherd-to-Sabine money for other projects.) When we reached the far end of the Cistern, we left the ledge, walking down concrete stairs to the muddy floor. The silty red mud, Shanley explained, was composed of iron and other minerals that long ago settled out of the reservoir’s water. Every now and then, a drop of condensed water from the ceiling would hit the soft mud, and the tiny sound would echo. Shanley shone his flashlight on the ground, examining the droplets’ marks. ‘It’s like the surface of Mars,’ he said.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Site plan for Water Music Place on top of reservoir: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

17 Comment

  • I think we should store the politicians in Washington in this underground facility! It’s what they deserve.

  • it sounds really really cool, but aside from asking Pauline Oliveros to re-record her Deep Listening album i can’t think of a single thing that would make good use of an abandoned cistern.

  • “The Cistern was discovered after the Buffalo Bayou Project had budgeted all its Shepherd-to-Sabine money…” Had they asked a few city employees about the access hatches in that big empty field abutting the skate park maybe they could have ‘discovered’ it sooner. Please.

  • Such a cool thing! I hope it stays safe and sound for the foreseeable future; I just like knowing it’s there.

  • So how secure are those hatches? You know, um, just curious is all…

  • Turn it into a home for another colony of bats. Imagine thousands pouring out of that hatch at dusk. Skeeters would be skeered…

  • So cool to know something like that was hiding in plane sight as I run by there almost every day. I like the idea of an open music space, but also agree parking would be a problem in that location unless a shuttle was provided, maybe from some of the surface parking near the Municipal Court. It would be great if biking or walking was encouraged to get to the site. As an aside, I really like what they are doing in the area thus far.

  • HAHA…tcp IV….clearly you have never talked to a city employee, especially one with PW&E. They are luck to know what day it is.

  • This will prove to be more a problem than an opportunity, IMO.

  • Jai alai arena.

  • I know it’s the Houston way, but I’m just glad they changed their minds about demolishing/filling it in.

  • Discovery Brown

  • C’mon, this is a no-brainer: underground parking garage.

  • King Crimson, same tempo but drawn out at least one measure between lines.

  • Back in ’83 until about ’85 my buddies Colin Mazzola, Keith Tashima and myself would go down an open hatch into that thing- they closed it up sometime around ’86 or ’87- this was back when jogging around the North side os Allen Parkway (near the celemetaries) was a little sketchy- people hanging out in the park near/under the Memorial Dr underpasses— anyway, what Lisa Gray left out was the 10 million roaches down there- we couldn’t hang out there for long- you couldn’t sit down or hang-BUT it was really cool and I remember being totally amazed that the City had an underground aqueduct/storm sewer overflow (yes it flooded and was impossible to go down the ladder) that was open and pretty much abandoned- David Beebe

  • David Beebe,
    I knew someone must had been down there before.
    Geez, I know people who back in the day used to climb up into the old rice towers on Allen Parkway.
    People break into the old Days in and do what must be 7 feet tall tags.
    There is not much that goes undiscovered.
    It was just too hard to believe that this underground cistern was pristine, like some untouched Egyptian tomb.
    I hope the city does something interesting with it. I was surprised there were no rats or cockroaches. I guess they ran out of stuff to eat.