Buffalo Bayou Gets Some National Love

Who knew we in Houston were sitting on such a gold mine of urban planning?

A lot of us, actually, especially the ones who take time out to enjoy Buffalo Bayou.

Now that strip leading to downtown is getting some more of the recognition it deserves, as the American Planning Association has named it one of the great "public spaces" in the country.

The APA's newest listing of notable U.S. spaces came out yesterday, and Houston founds itself in fine company.

It joins Union Station in Chicago, Jackson Square in New Orleans and such lesser-known but still enticing gems as McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon and Washington Park in Denver.

The APA's take on Buffalo Bayou:

Called "Houston's Central Park" by Mayor Annise Parker, Buffalo Bayou has shaped the city's development since the Allen Brothers laid Houston's street grid along the bayou's course in 1836. From influences by renowned architect George Kessler to works by premier local artists and sculptors, Buffalo Bayou provides the finest landscaping and design features Houston has to offer.

Mayor Annise Parker looked to the future, and oft-discussed development plans for the land, as she accepted the praise.

"Buffalo Bayou has been central to our history and development. Yesterday it was used for commerce and trade," she said. "Today it provides recreation for increasing numbers of bikers, hikers, joggers, skateboarders, dog walkers and art lovers. Tomorrow, it will serve as the spine for a continuous system of public parks and trails, or greenways, linking every major bayou segment of the city."

The downtown sector of the bayou is scheduled to undergo a $55 million renovation if enough private funds can be scared up. The Kinder Foundation has jumpstarted things, so maybe the waterway will be making the APAs list sometime again in the future.

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