Civic Center and Theater District Architecture Walk

  • Smith at McKinney Houston TX 77002

When landscape architects Hare & Hare drew up plans for Houston's civic center in the late 1920s, they envisioned a group of stylistically similar Spanish-influenced buildings arranged around a public square. But those plans were derailed by the Depression, and the city's governmental and cultural center ended up developing over the next 50 years in a variety of styles with few efforts at overall planning.

Today, structures in the Civic Center and the adjacent Theater District reflect not only the evolution of Houston's municipal and cultural institutions, but also changing architectural tastes. Our 90-minute docent-guided walking tour will explore the history and development of this area of downtown, visiting landmarks that include Ralph Adams Cram's Julia Ideson library building; Joseph Finger's Art Deco City Hall; Tranquillity Park, designed by Charles Tapley to commemorate the 1969 moon landing; and the recently renovated Alley Theatre, a 1968 design by Ulrich Franzen.

Please note that this is an exterior tour only. The tour will not go inside any buildings.

Tickets will go on sale at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 10, 2016, at the northwest corner of Smith Street and McKinney Avenue. Admission is $10 for the general public ($7 for Preservation Houston members and students with valid ID). Those who walk, ride a bike or use public transit to get to the tour will receive a $2 discount. Children 11 years old and under are admitted free. Tickets may be charged to Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. The last tour group will leave just after 2 p.m. Advance reservations are not required for this tour.

Street parking is free downtown Sundays, but be sure to observe posted parking regulations. The tour start point is also a short walk from the Main Street Square Station on MetroRail's Red Line.