Best Tree - 2010
The Old Hanging Oak
Said to be more than 400 years old, the massive live oak at Bagby and Capitol (behind the Bayou Place entertainment complex) was no doubt a mite smaller back in the Republic of Texas days, when it would have been only about a youthful 225. Even so, it's hard to believe the tree could have grown a whole lot since then, considering how much the ground beneath it has been watered with blood and tears. As the legend goes, about a dozen people were hung from its trunk-like branches when Texas was still its own independent nation. When a nearby courthouse was built in the late 19th century, the oak became a prime viewing spot for families of both the condemned and their victims to watch the grim proceedings. In other words, one of the shadiest spots in downtown Houston has an appropriately shady past.