Houston gets a lot of negative publicity for things like sprawl, pollution and other problems common to urban areas short on zoning and long on business interests. Notable, however, is the downtown skyline, which, for all the issues our city faces, is one of the more distinctive features Houston has.
Unfortunately, there are a few things that stand in the way of our collective view. These blights on the skyline, some easily solved, others not so much, stain an otherwise attractive portion of our not-always-that-attractive city.
Here are our top five blights on the Houston skyline.
5. Abandoned Buildings
Most cities suffer from the scourge of developers who walk away from buildings only to leave them rotting. Many cannot be renovated and the exorbitant cost to have them demolished makes clearing room for another building or even a parking lot difficult. Two of the worst offenders are the former Central Square Apartments (2100 Travis) and the Savoy Hotel (1616 Main), the latter of the two an addition to the original hotel that was demolished in 2009. 4. Billboards
Houston's 1980 billboard ordinance has helped clean up sight lines in a city once littered with the giant signage, but the job isn't quite done. There are still a handful of billboards, a couple near the I-45 and 59 interchange and a few along the Pierce Elevated, that bombard people stuck in traffic with Hurricane Ike lawsuit deadlines and encourage everyone to partake in energy drinks. 3. George R. Brown Convention Center
Whenever we drive past this monumental catastrophe of architecture, the dulcet tones of Jack Jones singing the theme to The Love Boat immediately come to mind. Who thought it was a good idea to park a cruise liner along an elevated freeway? We're surprised staff aren't required to dress in white sailor uniforms and jokingly tell visitors to visit Julie on the Lido Deck. 2. The Downtown Aquarium Ferris Wheel
Nothing adds class to your theater district more than a giant blue neon amusement park ride. At least that's what Tilman Fertitta thought when he built the Aquarium Restaurant complete with the monstrous ferris wheel that sits so close to the elevated freeway. Drivers could easily see women flashing their boobs during their evening commute, if such a thing ever happened and we're not saying it did. 1. St. Joseph Professional Building's Neon Crosses
It's not the religious overtones of the massive neon crosses on both the south and north sides of the adjunct hospital building that bother us as much as the enormity of them. If they had put a giant Star of David or a huge pentagram or even a big ass hand flashing the devil horns, we would still object. On second thought, that devil horns thing sounds kinda cool.