Looking for things to do when you're in Downtown Houston? Visit the city's remnants from the roaring twenties and the early thirties, the jazzy Art Deco architecture. What sets it apart from other architectural styles are it's austere shapes. Even on a self-guided tour in Houston, the designs are easy to recognize. They boast the streamlined styling of modern technology fused with varied patterns and icons gathered from just about every culture in America's melting pot.
Art Deco Buildings Downtown
These 20th Century marvels stand side by side with modern glass and and steel monoliths that dominate the current skyline of downtown Houston. Be prepared to do a lot of walking to see these beautifully executed buildings. It's well worth the time.
A short written description on the art deco architectural treasures can be downloaded for a self-guided tour on the Downtown Houston website. I've included a brief sketch on some of them.
University of Houston
The University of Houston Downtown’s campus jettisons from the banks of Buffalo Bayou. It's composed of several smaller structures adjacent to the former Merchants and Manufactures Buildings. It can be easily accessed from the Metrorail that makes it's last stop in front of the main building.
The lobby of City Hall glistens with classic Streamlined Moderne Art Deco. Its nickel bronze stair rails, lighting fixtures, and a cove – lit – ceiling features the world globe with Houston at its center. The beautiful murals in the ornate lobby were created by artist Daniel MacMorris.
Mellie Esperson Building
The Esperson building has a beautifully curved inset, at the Walker Street entrance. You'll love the huge bronze doors flanked by black granite “cheeks”. A stroll inside, will reveal marble walls and terrazzo floors that punctuate the rich character to the elegant lobby.
JP Chase Morgan Building
Take a peak at the illuminated crown screening the observation deck. There are incised wave patterns in the stone, which encases the lower levels. The carefully patterned bricks are part of the original floors of the exquisitely detailed building.
1001 McKinney Street Building
Earth colored brick piers form the main vertical elements, framing fenestration with detailed spandrels. Most of the first three stories reflect their former commercial use. Other elements that will delight art deco fans are the lintel panels with the Industrious Bee, the symbol of the City National Bank, which once occupied the building.
Many of the things to do that are in Downtown Houston on a self-guided tour in Houston, involve taking fascinating journeys to discover the potpourri of treasures just waiting for inquiring minds. I'd recommended picking an early AM visit on a cool day or just after 6 pm on warm summer evenings to avoid the frantic pace of the crowds and traffic in downtown.