Houston: Where Hope Floats

Allen Parkway, 1960.

Allen Parkway, 2010.

You Houstonians already know these facts. Allen Parkway is a short, but important traffic artery leading into downtown Houston from the west at Shepherd Drive and ending 2.3 miles later at the I-45 section that skirts the immediate west bank of the tall buildings at Sam Houston Park near City Hall.

Through the 1950s, this busy, winding travel path to the south bank of Buffalo Bayou was known as Buffalo Drive. The name was changed to clear up confusion with another road in Houston near West University Place that is still called Buffalo Speedway. The name selected for the true bayou partner street fell quickly to “Allen Parkway” in honor of John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, the founders of Houston.

The towers of the 1960 vista are basically now covered by the monsters of the second. Houston has grown so much in the past fifty years – and it hasn’t been all physical. Thanks to the prevailing culture of can-do energy and adaptability, the city has survived wars, a number of economic crises, and important changes in the old culture that kept Houston spiritually small back in the days of racial segregation.

Houston was founded as an inland port and railroad transportation center. It grew as a rice, cotton, and cattle town. Then it leapt into prominence as the oil capital of the world. Now it builds on its still important energy center status as a growing international community manning an ever-diversifying economy in the world marketplace.

At the same time Houston changes, the forces that support our community’s memory and preservation of the area’s history are growing stronger by the day. It is important we adapt and change to both our needs for spiritual growth and the demands of the changing marketplace, but it is also important that we don’t give up connection to where we’ve come from. Our city’s history also contains some discriminatory values and practices in its past that we never want to forget or repeat. We will not forget those either.

For the city to embrace hope, there has to be hope and opportunity here for all law-abiding citizens.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, if you’ve been reading my columns for long, I’m a 100% Houston guy. This city has owned my heart forever and always will. We may not always be right, but we never stop working to get it right for the greater good of Houston, whatever that turns out to be..

Now, if we could just figure a way to dome the city for air conditioning in August each year, I might start believing that we could actually turn this town into the garden spot of the world. Have a nice Sunday, folks. I’m on my way to the take out service at Pappasito’s now. Nobody else around here wants to leave the house.

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2 Responses to “Houston: Where Hope Floats”

  1. Jim Maenner Says:

    You mentioned air conditioning the city. Several years after the Astrodome was built, I recall someone had that same idea. To air condition the downtown area from Chenevert to Allens Landing and from West Gray to what is now I-10.

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