Heritage, 2011, Volume 2 Page: 23
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Houston's 20th-century self-image: big, spectacular, and unre-
In the second half of the book, Strom reviews several projects
that were never built. The author believes that by considering
both the structures that were demolished and those that never
made it off the drawing board, the reader can develop a better
understanding of the city's overall character. The Houston
Center (Texas Eastern Project), for example, would have cov-
ered 33 city blocks or 74 acres on the east side of downtown.
Plans called for it to be built on a kind of platform and include
23 million square feet of office space. The economic recession
of the late 1970s put downsizing pressure on the project, and
ultimately only a relatively manageable portion of the original
project was built.
Another "unbuilt" project was the monorail transportation
system. As the city grew, Houston repeatedly flirted with
developing a monorail to reduce dependence on cars and road
construction. In 1956, a prototype monorail was built in a
park off of Old Spanish Trail. At 970 feet long, it predated the
monorail that was introduced in Disneyland. Funding for the
Houston project moved forward and was finally approved in
1988. The concept was vigorously supported by Mayor Kathy
Whitmire. It was, however, given the cabosh by her successor
Bob Lanier, who made opposition to the project part of his
The ultimate questions the book provokes are: what hap-
pened and why does Houston put so little value on its public
history? After reading Strom's book, the argument could be
Sadly, though, [Houston Lost and Unbuilt]
also emphasizes, with painful clarity, that
the city hasn't cared enough to protect the
tangible evidence of where it came from or
the stories of its people.
made that Houston's architectural and cultural heritage is fast
disappearing, and, as such, it is conceivable that the city's past
may soon be unidentifiable. And if we don't have the icons and
stories to define who we were, then how can we really know
who we are? But even apart from existential questions, for
readers, particularly those who think of the Bayou City as
home, it might be hard not to come away from this book feel-
ing betrayed by the city fathers and mothers who allowed for
the destruction of so much of Houston's compelling and
important physical history.
Jane Hayman was a long-time Houston resident who left Texas for
35 years before returning to live in Austin.
Are you interested in reviewing historic books for pos-
sible publication in Texas HERITAGE magazine? If
so, contact email@example.com and
indicate your area(s) of historic interest.
These Texas properties are in the
finals for the National Trust for Historic
Preservation's "This Place Matters" challenge.
* The Chautauqua Auditorium, Waxahachie
Chautauqua Preservation Society
* Lerma's Nite Club, San Antonio
* Houston's Astrodome, Greater Houston
Preservation Alliance & Houston Mod
* Central High School, Old Central Cultural
Center, Inc., Galveston
* Texas' Hueco Park, Hueco Tanks
State Park & Historic Site
* The Historic Ritz Theatre, Wellington Ritz
Theatre, Inc., Wellington
The top prize is 425,000.
Go to the National Trust's website to vote.
Excavations at San Felipe Spring,
Val Verde County, 1998
G THE PA5T
Excavating Confederate Veterans.
Texas State Cemetery. Travis County, 1995
PREWITT AND ASSOCIATES, INC.
Cultural Resources Services
2105 Donley Avenue, Suite 400 * Austin, Texas 78758-4513
Tel: (512) 459-3349 Fax: (512) 459-3851
Volume 2 2011 I TEXASHERITAGE 23
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 2, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254221/m1/25/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.