We had a great couple of days in Houston, coming away with a great feel for the city. This posting is to cover the random sights that don’t fit anywhere else, like the featured image above from the Sam Houston Park Village with a little church in the middle of the skyscrapers downtown.
Even though I had been in Houston briefly a couple of times previously I had never seen the Astrodome. The world’s first indoor baseball and football stadium when it was completed in the early 1960s, it still stands unused.
The Wateralls across from the Williams Tower is 64′ high, 1 foot for each floor of the nearby skyscraper.
The ‘Twilight Epiphany Skyspace’ is located on the campus of Rice University. I had read that this was a cool thing to see, but when we got there in the middle of the afternoon I couldn’t understand why. It turns out you must be there at sunset or sunrise – maybe next time.
Houston is notorious for their traffic, with over 6 million people in the area and very little public transportation. They do however have a streetcar that covers a few miles in the center of the city.
As well as crossing a man made pond in the middle of Main Street.
Discover Park has an interesting pinwheel display with a device that when you blow into it just right, kicks off fans that make all the pinwheels spin.
Buffalo Bayou Park is a nice urban park space complete with a skateboard park.
The highlight of the park though was our tour of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Once used for retaining water for the city, it is now a cool space to explore on a guided tour.
The city has numerous examples of public art.
I have often wondered who has the concrete contracts for road construction in Texas as they build ramps that seem far longer than needed, and never pile up dirt to make the overpasses shorter.
In the theme of ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ – As we left the city and reached the suburb of Katy, Texas we made a stop at a Buc-ee’s. A Texas based chain, Buc-ee’s are massive – this one has over 60 gas pumps (the photo is only showing about 1/2 of them)!
The highlight though was the World’s Longest Car Wash (according to the Guiness World Records) – the 255′ long one at Buc-ee’s easily cleaned off 2,000 miles of dirt and grime. Now it is off for San Antonio!
Since the Houston Astros had a home game, and we were staying a couple of blocks away, we checked out the scene. As with most stadiums they have sold the naming rights, so they play at Minute Maid Park 🙂
The crowd was gathering outside before the gates opened.
Anytime I visit a new stadium I like to get there early and walk around to check out the sights.
The TV people were preparing for their broadcast.
As with all the stadiums built in the last 25 years, all have ‘quirky’ features. This stadium has a retractable dome (which was closed because it was 90 and humid), as well as a giant glass wall facing the downtown buildings.
The bullpens were empty.
Some basic instructions were occurring.
Marketing + Marketing = Excess.
The left field scoreboard and stands.
Finally it was time for the game and the obligatory national anthem. This group of young string instrument players were excellent.
The Phillips 66 Home Run Pump, brought to you by Phillips 66.
They have a large train along the glass wall. This train weights 60,000 pounds, and the driver actually drives (and stops) it. In researching this there is no apparent reason why there is a train there other than someone liked the idea.
The massive main scoreboard – everything you need to know about Jose Abreu.
If you can’t hit a real baseball virtual reality gives you the chance.
They have cheerleader at a baseball game…. The most excited the crowd got was for the free t shirts.
Almost forgot – there was a baseball game played.
Crowds going for, or dodging, foul balls always make good subjects.
When most people think of New Orleans they think of the French Quarter, or other major tourist spots. But New Orleans is more than that – it is a major city with large corporate and government buildings.
New Orleans refers to their downtown area as the CBD (Central Business District).
Below is the Supreme Court of Louisiana Building. While it is technically in the French Quarter it is unlike all the other structures in the area with it’s classical look.
Also nearby is the St Louis Cathedral.
Canal Street is the divider between the Quarter and the CBP. It is lined with commercial business, many of which are in 100 year old + buildings.
The Royal Crescent Hotel has an impressive amount of detail on the exterior.
This level of detail is found on many of the early 1900 buildings.
A mix of old and new New Orleans.
Completed in 1972 the Hancock Whitney Center has been the tallest building in the city (and state) since it’s completion. For most of it’s history it was known as One Shell Plaza.
The exterior is Italian travertine, which caused many to be concerned of it’s durability during a strong storm, however it stood up to Hurricane Katrina.
Now a Hilton Hotel, this ornate building was completed in 1927 as the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons of Louisiana.
When opened it had a 1000 person theater and three ballrooms.
The Whitney Bank clock is a New Orleans heirloom.
The Cotton Exchange Building was completed in 1920, replacing a previous, more ornate building of the same name.
The Energy Centre is the 4th tallest building in the city, at 530′ high. It is located across the street from the Superdome.
A view of the plaza in front of the Superdome.
The DXC Technologies building also is in the Superdome neighborhood. While not especially tall it has a clean lines look to it
But no matter the height of the skyscrapers nothing dominates the New Orleans skyline like the Superdome.
Despite what Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana say, Rickwood Field in Birmingham is America’s oldest baseball stadium.
Opened in 1910 it is in amazingly similar look and condition to the day it was opened.
While it is no longer used regularly for the minor league Birmingham Barons, it still sees some use with a tribute game by the Barons, as well as other use.
Most frequently it is used as a movie set for retro baseball movies, as well as local colleges.
As you enter the stadium you are greeted with old entry gates, not metal detectors.
The lineups are written on a chalkboard.
Going into the box seats you have a fence surrounding the home plate area for protection from foul balls.
The seats are still all wood, not plastic.
For most a large roof protects you from the hot Alabama summer sun.
Looking down the stands towards the press box. The original press box was a tiny 4 person booth on the roof, but this one was added for a period piece movie and it was left as it is more functional.
We were permitted to go onto the perfectly manicured field to check it out. The center field fence seems far away from here.
Also note how much foul ground there is behind home plate – many would be foul balls likely turn into outs here.
Looking down first base toward right field show the unusual cantilevered light towers.
Left field is similar, with a ‘batting barn’ built further off to the left.
A view from home plate back towards the stands again show the foul territory.
Despite it’s minimal use, they keep the field in perfect condition.
The view of the right field stands are far longer than those along left field. When this stadium was built in 1910 Forbes Field in Pittsburgh had just been completed as the standard in stadium design, and the architects here used essentially the same design – albeit with much less seating than the major league stadium.
As we make our way into the outfield you can see the advertising along the outfield fence. This was a common practice in the early 1900s, and the advertising that is there is either period advertising, or new companies with the ads made to look period correct.
The scoreboard has been restored to the early 1900s look, with the scorekeeping done manually.
The teams listed would be those from the 1930s – Atlanta is still in the Southern League, and Brooklyn still has the Dodgers.
Birmingham is happy to see you.
Even the Vulcan is present.
The ads are very cool.
Another sign of the history of the south – there were all white teams, and all black teams. Rickwood Field hosted both Birmingham teams.
This practice ended in the 1950s.
The right field stands.
Rickwood Field is easily one of the best baseball ‘park’s I have ever seen. While it has been made retro for Hollywood , it really works nicely.