Historic Walking Tour Of Houston

June 9, 2014 7:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

With a history that stretches back more than two centuries, Houston is a city with a long and storied history. Once the capital of the state, Houston was named after Texas’ military leader and founding father Sam Houston and much of the city’s history revolves around this visionary who helped establish the Texas republic in 1836. But there are many other individuals who are responsible for shaping Houston’s past besides those who helped found the Texas republic. Here are some historic places to visit as you take a walking tour and get to know more about the people and places that helped make Houston the city it is today.
Sam Houston Park
1000 Bagby St.
Houston, TX 77002
(832) 395-7022

No historic walking tour of Houston would be complete without a visit to Sam Houston Park. Operated by the Heritage Society, Sam Houston Park contains historic homes and buildings signifying the city’s past and honoring those who helped influence its culture. Visit the Old Place, the oldest structure in Harris County. Walk past the Jack Yates house, a tribute to a former slave who helped advance civil rights. Marvel at the Victorian architecture of the Pilot House while stopping for a picture of the Kellum-Noble House, a plantation-style structure built in 1847. These structures and others make Sam Houston Park a must-visit destination for an historic walking tour.

Old Cotton Exchange Building
202 Travis St.
Houston, TX 77002

A small building by modern standards, the Old Cotton Exchange Building was once one of the focal points of downtown Houston. It was a place where traders convened to get the best deals on merchandise back in the 1800s, and today it is home to several offices and a bar. The four-story building was designed by Eugene Heiner and construction was completed in 1884. Its classical architecture makes it a favorite stopping point on an historic walking tour of the city.

Niels Esperson Building
808 Travis St.
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 224-1663

Niels Esperson Building is unique in Houston. It features Italian Renaissance architecture and is the only complete example of this style of architecture in downtown Houston. The building was completed in 1927 and, at 410 feet in height, it was the tallest building in the city at the time. The grand columns and tempietto at the top of the tower are reminiscent of Roman architecture and are something you don’t see much anymore, adding greatly to their historic significance. The building was constructed for oil tycoon Niels Esperson by his wife Mellie and his and her names can be seen carved into the building in different places.

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Tranquility Park
400 Rusk St.
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 394-8805

Houston is widely known for its role in space exploration and Tranquility Park helps commemorate the city’s link to the heavens above. The park was named after the Sea of Tranquility, the place where Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969. Visitors to the park can view the now famous quotes from Neil Armstrong following the safe landing on the moon’s surface and read commemorative plaques that recall historic moments from Apollo 11 and other outer space missions. Mounds located throughout the park are meant to represent the cratered surface of the moon, providing guests with a feeling of being there. Tranquility Park is all about Houston’s role in space missions and it’s a great place to relive the past in downtown Houston.

JPMorgan Chase Tower
600 Travis St.
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 223-0441

A good stopping point for an historic walking tour of Houston, the JPMorgan Chase Tower is the tallest building in the city and the tallest in the state of Texas. Measuring just over 1,000 feet in total height, it was built in 1982 and was originally known as the Texas Commerce Tower. A sky lobby on the 60th floor offers some of the best views of the downtown area and is open to the public during working hours, Monday through Friday. It is the world’s tallest pentagon-shaped building and is a testament to the city’s reputation as one of the nation’s most important business centers. The JPMorgan Chase Tower is a modern history showcase, making it the perfect way to wrap up your historic downtown Houston walking tour.

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Bryan Carey is a Houston, Texas resident with an avid interest in restaurants, dining, breweries, wineries, festivals, cultural events, museums, theatre, concerts, and other forms of entertainment. He has been writing about entertainment, travel, and related topics for more than fifteen years and has thousands of articles to his credit. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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