Back to All Events

Civic Center and Theater District Architecture Walk

  • Smith St at McKinney Ave Houston, TX, 77002 United States (map)

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 tour will visit architectural highlights of the neighborhood, including Ralph Adams Cram's Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library; Joseph Finger's Houston City Hall; Tranquillity Park, built to commemorate the 1969 moon landing; and Ulrich Franzen's 1968 Alley Theatre. Along the way, we'll discuss the changing architectural tastes and shifting civic priorities that helped shape this section of downtown Houston.

Please note that this is an exterior architecture tour. The tour will not visit the interiors of any buildings. Public restrooms are not available on the tour route.


Tickets will go on sale at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, February 11, on the northwest corner of Smith Street and McKinney Avenue downtown. 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.

Learn more about this tour