Recently Anthony Lauriello, graduating senior at Rice University, here in Houston, wrote about coming here from out-of-state expecting to find a “grimy, uncultured place”, a huge mega-city sprawl where burritos didn’t come splashed with green chili.
During the 4 yrs. he has lived here he found himself growing to like the place, a city he described as not simply a “paved-over swamp, but a very pleasant paved-over swamp.” I’ll bet that made him some friends when they read that in the paper, hee, hee!
As a jogger and a foodie, he found himself venturing further and further from the safe confines of his college campus and exploring and experiencing what this city has to offer. His confusion over opposition to “viable public transit and expansion of metro rail” is something I can understand and I’ve only been here just over 6 months.
He also expresses “not to comprehend why some Houstonians remain ignorant of their city”, never venturing far beyond their neighborhood to explore what he calls “the great culture, art, food and people around them”.
I look at a map, whether one of those $5 folded maps or the Rand McNally Houston Atlas and I scratch my head trying to understand where the boundaries of Houston end and other cities begin. I hear names and see places on a map and puzzle over whether the place is a district, a neighborhood, a suburb, or a town or city.
I didn’t know Bellaire was a city until I read a story in the paper. The place is smack dab in the middle of Houston, for cryin’ out loud, just a couple of miles or so from where I live!
The only way a person can appreciate and understand this sprawlopolis is to get out of the house and explore the damn place as often as you can! I don’t care if you don’t have a car, there is the bus and, if that doesn’t take you close to where you need to go, then walk or ride a bike the rest of the way, it ain’t gonna hurt you!
On April 15th I’m taking the bus and my bike to old town Spring to meet a blogging friend for lunch. On my return I just might decide to ride Gessner, from Willowbrook Mall, all the way home to the Westchase District.
Am I freakin’ you natives out yet?
Houston has a rich history and what hasn’t been paved over has, according to a March 4 editorial (no longer online), in the Houston Chronicle, suddenly been found worth saving by the residents of this fair city. They say that “Houston’s self-esteem is on the rise”. An organization such as Preservation Houston, after 35 years, is no longer alone.
One of the things I liked about going on my adventures, by bike and afoot, during a lifetime in southern California, was the amazing variety of interesting history I would encounter.
I am looking forward to exploring and discovering all that Houston and Harris County have to offer.
Articles and websites referenced for this essay:
1. Learning to love Houston's rich tapestry By Anthony Lauriello
2. Preservation Houston = http://www.preservationhouston.org/