In Honor of Independence Day: Houston Building Implosions, Mistakes and All (With Video)

M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State U., Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC and Mark Matney, NASA-JSCEXPAND
M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State U., Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC and Mark Matney, NASA-JSC

We think it's an honor that Houston was on the short list of major cities obliterated by aliens in 1996's Independence Day. That means we're on par with world-class power centers like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Paris, London and Moscow. The futuristic technology might have been a bit off – rocket scientists and physicists issued white papers about plot holes and impossibilities – but there's no denying the entertainment value in this film that snagged an Oscar for Best Effects/Visual Effects.

With the recent release of Independence Day: Resurgence, it seems that incredulity is still in place, with writers (Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich and James Vanderbilt) playing a little loosey-goosey with the physics (though the cold fusion bombs are a nice touch). So let's celebrate the fact that Houston is still standing with actual explosions, implosions and demolitions in the Bayou City.

This video from the Upper Kirby area was part of a planned demolition of 3910 Kirby, 3930 Kirby and 2600 Southwest Freeway, also known as Corporate Plaza I, II and III. We still have fond memories of dining at Miyako and Madras Pavilion.

Implosion subcontractor Controlled Demolition, Inc. took down this circa-1952 main building of MD Anderson Cancer Center – a 500,000-square-foot, 22-story, structural steel structure – in just 17 seconds on Sunday, January 8, 2012. Leading up to the big day, contractors worked for about four months to strip the interior and remove the windows. Main demolition contractor was Sabre Demolition Corporation.

In Houston we have a soft spot for great department stores like Battelstein's, Joske's, Sakowitz and Everitt-Buelow. This ten-story structure at 1110 Main, the former site of Foley's, became part of Macy’s Inc. in 2006. The implosion brought an end to 65 years of commerce on September 22, 2013.

Yes, our beloved Astrodome is still in place, but remember the 100-foot-tall ramp towers that were added on in 1988, giving us access to the upper decks? While the Astrodome's eventual fate is still a topic for discussion, the implosion of three towers on December 8, 2013, was part of an $8 million deal to prepare the landmark for either demolition or preservation.

This one takes a little patience, and the shaky camera work makes for a nice touch, but hang in there. The implosion of the old Montagu Hotel at Fannin and Rusk on January 20, 2008, signaled the end of an era. It was formerly known as the Hotel Cotton and, when it was built in 1913, it was one of the first high-rises in Houston to be made from concrete and steel. 

No waiting for this one; if you blink, you'll miss it. Constructed in 1973, the Crowne Plaza Medical Center was demolished as part of the expansion for Texas Children’s Hospital. Swamplot had fun with this one, rounding up the conspiracy theories about a sliding door, an elusive shadow and a person trapped inside. 

This implosion video has all the bells and whistles of a blockbuster feature film, with its premonitory lighting and visual effects. The Houston Club, established in 1894, is the oldest social club in Houston, moving to the Jesse Jones-designed 18-story building at 811 Rusk in 1954. The Houston Club partnered up with ClubCorp in 2013 and moved over to One Shell Plaza. The structure at Rusk and Capitol had to make way for the development of Capitol Tower, and was imploded on October 19, 2014, by D.H. Griffin of Texas, Inc.

This image offers a panoramic view of Houston circa 1910.
This image offers a panoramic view of Houston circa 1910.

We can count on death and taxes, and the only constant is change. With our ever-present construction, and cranes constantly in motion, our skyline keeps evolving. Here's a historic glimpse from 1910, and a recent shot, from 2013. 

Our skyline keeps changing, and it seems as if cranes are always in motion. This photo was taken on July 28, 2013.EXPAND
Our skyline keeps changing, and it seems as if cranes are always in motion. This photo was taken on July 28, 2013.

Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >