Looking Back: Main Street in the 20th Century

Last week, a friend of mine from New York once commented that Houston, with its magnificent sprawl, was "one giant suburb." Though it blew her mind, those of us that grew up here are used to a decentralized city plan and the idea of a central downtown area is pretty much a foreign concept.

It's that intrigue that lures folks--sometimes 50 or 60 in the summer--to the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance's downtown walking tours, says GHPA spokesman Jim Parsons.

"I think it holds a lot of nostalgia for people of a certain age, for people remember coming downtown to shop and go to the theater," Parsons says. "And for another group of people who grew up in Houston with everything decentralized, it's a totally foreign concept to go to one place for everything."


The GHPA's next tour on July 10 follows the path of Main Street, tracing Houston's architectural development in the 20th century. "You can see buildings getting bigger in the '10s and '20s, when the oil boom was going on, then the leap to banks, department stores and hotels," says Parsons.

Parsons was good enough to send us some images from buildings folks will see on the Main Street walking tour. Page through to have a gander.

July 10 at 6 p.m. Tickets go on sale at 5:30. The tour meets at 712 Main Street. $10 for non-members, $7 for members and students. There is a $2 discount if you walk, bike or ride the Metro to the tour. For information, call 713-216-5000 or visit

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.