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Everything posted by squatterkid

  1. Excellent, thank you. I tried searching but could come up with nothing. Again, much appreciated.
  2. Hi. I have a request to make. I was wondering if one of you talented (or not) photographers could do me a favor. I'd like a picture looking down Bayland St if possible. I used to ride down that street on my bike everyday when I lived in the Heights. I haven't been back to H-town in a few years (for shame) and I miss that view. We don't have that sort of thing even here in OAKland California. Should be looking nice this time of year. Thanks, sean
  3. From the upper floors of the Savoy, I used to look over at that foul temptress, the Days Inn. If I'm not mistaken, there is a RV parked on the top floor of the parking garage.
  4. Hey y'all. I'm back, sort of. I live in California again. I just ran across these pictures I took a awhile ago and thought I might share them, as I recall someone expressing a like for the Central Square sign. Well, here they are. Second one is from the roof of the Central Square, looking north. With my neighbor and enemy, the 22 story inpenetrable fortress that is the Days Inn. I can not believe they put that head on the lawn of the Savoy. The first words out of my mouth "Only in Houston." -sean
  5. Yeah, the people who "secure" buildings aren't always that great at what they do. Look at the two new murals on the Wast side of the building for proof. Spoke and whoever didn't have a tough time getting in. Luckily (or unluckily, depending upon how you look at it) for the owners, there isn't a scrap piece of metal left in the building worth salvaging. Scrappers got every bit of copper plumbing, wire and aluminum that was possible. Crackheads, among other things, are efficient. I'm really still curious about the Days Inn. A couple years ago, some friends and I went in to have a look, despite the signs outside saying that tresspassing was a felony. (What, is it a government historical site or something? Ha.) We we're greeted by a fellow who was the "caretaker" and said that he had the day shift and another fellow had the night shift, and if we came back at night he would give us a tour. This intrigues me because I would love to have a position like that. I do miss living in a 17 story building with a few friends. We used to slide down the laundry chute at the Savoy. We filled one room with mattresses and had a bouncy wall room. At any rate. I'd be perfect for the job. I've vowed to never again pay rent. And being the type of person that gets into buildings, I'm perfect for keeping other people out. Not to be exclusive and proprietary, but I don't agree with gutting a building of all of it's usuable copper plumbing and electrical wiring, rendering the building almost beyond repair. That's dumb. Unless the owner of said building is a rich jerk... Well, I'm only around for a few days, headed up to NYC. No abandoned skyscrapers there...
  6. Hi folks. I'm back. In Houston, and on this forum. Didn't know there was still so much interest in this stuff. Let's see... My girlfriend got an apartment so I don't have to live in empty buildings anymore, at least in Houston anyways. The Central Square seems to have changed ownership again. Watercolor drawing of what they hope to have happen in the area. I'll believe it when I see it. That area just seems destined to forever fail. That donut shop changes hands every so often, the Thai place is never open, the 50's Diner that looks like an Airstream trailer (who's idea was that?) just down the street speaks for itself. More and more people have gotten into the building. Just smash a window on the ground floor and go for it. Never my style. But the owners are silly, instead of boarding the whole bottom floor up, they just board up whichever window got smashed. I spent some time in Detroit last month. Possibly the only place with more empty actual skyscrapers than houston. I got into one, the Fort Shelby Hotel. Completely wrecked but still interesting. I dunno, pretty boring town..... kid
  7. Oh, and I forgot something. If you happen to know one of these philanthropists, have them throw some money the Public Library's way. They could certainly use it. I saw a rendition of their upcoming (hopeful) remodel, and it included a Library Cafe. Never a good sign when a Public Library has to turn to selling coffee to fund itself. I judge cities by their libraries.
  8. It's true, Houston does lead the country in philanthropy, hands down. With all the fortune 500 compaines and oil money, how can it not? Unfortunately just because you have all the money in the world doesn't mean you know a good painting from a piece of garbage. It's partly what I was trying to touch on before, you can't buy class. Or taste for that matter. For a good explanation of this (and a rather interesting view on Texas in general) read John Steinbeck's "Travel's with Charley, In Search of America".
  9. I meant more along the lines of rip the whole damn street up and put in a decent light rail system. Seriously, do we expect the super rich to have to cross Westheimer to get to Neiman Marcus from the Derek? Pshaw. I know we disagreed on car traffic being prohibitive of a decent downtown area before, but if you don't see how four lanes or more of Westheimer through the center of an upscale area like the Galleria is just ruining it, then well, look harder or something.
  10. I think anything that gets/keeps people talking is good. And to be talking about culture and class seems perfectly relevant to the health of a city. I'm not trying to rag on you for saying this is off-topic, but if you have a problem with it, then start something on-topic that people will talk about. The Galleria/Uptown is a major benchmark of the city in terms of the upper upper class. I could care less about those people or their money but I do want Houston to have a good image. And I want it to have a super good image for the super rich. (Most of whom are just "stopping by", staying at the Derek) Unfortunately in order to perfect the image, the city is going to have to do something about the four lane traffic nightmare that is Westheimer through the center of it all.
  11. Culture and class can't be bought. Houston/The Galleria needs to learn that lesson desperately. Buying all your clothing at Neiman Marcus makes you no more of a sophisticate than sleeping in your garage makes you a car. I live very near to San Jose, where those pictures were taken. The development is rather cookie-cutter, but the area still has a nice "feel" to it.
  12. y'all are complaining about a new park? Like it or not, homeless people exist. It must be hard to see with your nose that high in the air.
  13. I've always wonderd about this as well. When was the tunnel system built? (or opened or completed or whatever) Anyone have any old maps?
  14. I'm not even from Houston or Texas for that matter, (boo hiss!) but I've spent enough time living in the CBD and Midtown to understand what y'all are talking about. I agree that, right now, the city is pretty lousy. Nowhere near the three cities more populated than it, in terms of desireablity to live there. But it was worse 1 year ago. What's that mean? Things are changing, and you can feel it. There's definitely a sense of improvement and people really taking a pride in their city, and creating something to be proud of. Not only when the relatives come over for a wedding, but when you're walking (or taking Metrorail) to your place of employment, or when you're going out to eat. Being an outsider, I think I feel it a little bit more than most. The city has SOOOOO much potential to be cooler than LA or maybe even Chicago. And I want in on the ground level. One thing Houston is not though, is green. Seriously folks, if I see another pro-Houston piece of propaganda touting it's endless open spaces and hundreds of parks, I think I'll vomit from the sheer ridiculousness. Memorial Park. Big freakin whoopty doo. An inaccessible open land set FAR away from downtown accesible mainly by car and of no real use to anyone living within the confines of the city. I know that being below the flood plain requires that you cover everything in cement, but at the very least, put a few benches in it. Oh yeah, and the Bayou. I don't think much needs to be said about that. And don't even start blaming it on homeless people. They have absolutely nothing to do with it. Go look at Market street in bustling, beautiful, thriving, world renowned San Francisco if you don't believe me.
  15. My point being that stupid people and politics put MetroRail at grade instead of elevated or below ground. And I have been on more than a few standing room only MetroRail rides. Just wait till they add an extension.
  16. Living in Central Square, the Midtown Randall's used to be my main grocery store. The place does a brisk business, even though it is overpriced. I guess if you can afford to live in Camden, you can afford the convenience. Main Street Food Store is anything but. It's one of the shadiest businesses I've ever seen in operation. Not only will you never pay the same price twice, if you're not paying attention, you'll pay double. The liqour is unbelievably underpriced but they make that up by overcharging you after you've had a few. (too many) With a scary Russian accent Colombian looking guard sitting in a booth in front armed to the teeth, it wouldn't surprise me if half the items being sold on the shelf are stolen off the back of a truck. Scary place run by scary people frequented by even scarier people. Sorry if I'm offending anybodies cousin or uncles here, but it's the truth.
  17. Long answer: politics and stupid people. Short answer: So they don't block streets while making stops at stations.
  18. It can be very hard to figure out which buildings are empty and which ones aren't, especially in Houston. Reason being that oftentimes the street level retail shops are open, while the residential/office building upstairs has been closed for years. I do believe I know the building you're speaking of on San Jacinto at Walker. Haven't been in there yet, but it does intrigue me. A good case in point for my above interjection is the building that's directly across Louisianna from the Hyatt Regency. The northside of the building is a very busy parking garage, while the southside is (I'm guessing from the remnants of a sign) the old Houston Chronicle offices. See, I'm involved in this little informal contest to squat the tallest building possible. I'm still the winner with the Savoy at 17 stories, but I need to beat my own record.
  19. SubDude, I really like your idea of street side parking. I think you're right on all accounts there. Personally, I hate all automobiles and think the entire planet should be ridden of the scourge, but that's what compromise is for, eh? Cuz Houston definitely needs one, especially downtown. However, this would add to the ridiculous amount of street work taking place downtown. My girlfriend seriously thought that they were tearing up parts of the streets, then fixing them, then tearing them up again. It certainly seems so. They need to get that stuff done with before anything else can happen. Because as long as there's tractors in the road and detoured traffic and changed bus stops and dust in the air and pedestrian bridges, people won't come around. Lord knows it shooes me away. Downtown really is taking off though. Less than a year ago, main street was pretty dead, even on weekends. But nowadays it's a pretty happening place. I hope this trend continues and the city takes the right course of developement. The time is now.
  20. As a pedestrian in many cities and communities both large and small I personally vote Houston as the number one scariest place to walk or ride a bike. Period. They're called sidewalks folks, put some in, and keep people from driving on them.
  21. I meant that the streets are too wide in general. I can't remember the standard footage for street width, but I do know that four lanes through the heart of downtown ain't a good thing. You mentioned Chicago and New York City. Let's start with Chicago. That city is pretty parallel to our beloved H-Town as far as size, suburbs and downtown goes. And believe it or not, it is just as alienating and unwelcoming as Houston is. Due mainly to the traffic downtown. There really isn't a downtown happening spot, ya know, all of that is up and around Wicker Park and Lincoln, where there is more parks and less traffic. Hmmmmm.... And as far as New York City goes, have you ever driven there? I would think that only clueless tourists and taxi drivers would bother driving in that city. Cars do not have the right of way even when the light is green, the pedestrian is king of the road. As it is, as it should be, and look at the results. The most vibrant city in the world. Of course it's not all due to pedestrian friendly streets though, I'm not that dumb. But it plays a big part. Someone mentioned streetmalls. I have yet to see one that WASN'T thriving. Nicolette St. in Minneaopolis is doing so well, that the success has spilt over to Hennepin St, one block north. And the 16th Street Mall in Denver. The only cars allowed on that street are the shuttle busses that run up and down all day long. And I think even that is too much. But the place is bustling day in and day out. Light Rail BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) here in California was originally designed only to take shoppers from the wealthy East Bay suburbs into San Francisco to shop and dine and be entertained. It is now used almost solely as a commuter train. Point being, trends reverse, and things aren't always as clear cut as they seem. I can goddamned guarantee you that if MetroRail in Houston adds a (hopefully) sub or above grade line down Westheimer, at least as far as the Galleria, and several radiating lines into the expansive suburbs that make up the population of Houston proper, the city will explode. Start with trackage rights on the Union Pacific rails that parallel Hwy 290 into Little York, Jersey Village, and all of the Cy-burbs. The Metro park and Ride bus stations already in place are close enough to the tracks to serve as rail stations. Add a few feeder busses and voila! People living in "Houston" will actually come to Houston. Instant faux-density. Sorry for the rant. I'm just a dumb squatter kid with a grandiose plan for Houston. City's got so damned much potential I hate to see it squandered.
  22. Public libraries have internet access. I'm now at my "home" of the Bay Area in California. No empty skyscrapers here. I can get in the Shamrock. That trailer out front with the stylized design isn't enough to fool me. The old Days Inn has people living in it, purportedly there on behalf of the owner, in order to keep other people out. (just the sort of position I'm looking for) So many empty buildings in just downtown alone, I can't keep track and remember which one's are worth getting into or not. What about that HUGE skyscraper right downtown (I want to say Louisiana and Clay, maybe not though) north half is parking garage the south is a 22 story or more office building. Anyone know anything about that? Hearne Lithograph in Midtown (across from Specs) had a horrible attack from copper salvaging crackheads. Seems the water was still on and the entire place flooded from the second story down. Ridiculous structural damage as a result. I did my best to turn the water off but the property manager stole my backpack anyways. I've gotta get on the right side of these things.
  23. Yeah, I know. Liberal car-hating scum like me are never taken seriously. But as an honorary Houstonian and a well travelled kid that likes his cities big AND exciting, I think Houston needs to seriously reconsider it's traffic patterns through the downtown area. The streets are FAR too wide and the cars FAR too numerous for downtown to ever be the thriving active money spending center we would all like it to be. Installing light rail was a step in the right direction. Denying it the money to be sub or above grade was idiotic. One needs only examine other cities with a bubbling downtown/nightlife to realize that cars and a welcoming downtown center are mutually eliminative. The Burnside district of Portland comes to mind. Not to mention the goddamned eyesore parking lots that plague this fair town. Nothing uglier than an open lot amidst beautiful buildings.
  24. My background is posted on the Central Square topic in case this doesn't make sense to anyone. I lived in the Savoy hotel for about 6 months starting last February. I discovered and had to explore the building the moment I saw a huge chandeller (sp?) hanging from behind a broken window in the lobby. It's hard to keep me out of any building and it wasn't long before I had discovered an entrance. The Savoy is actually two buildings, the older, shorter one on the north side and the addition on the south. The older building is absolutely rotten and decrepit. It has caved in from the top floor to the ground and actually looks pretty freakin cool. Toilets hanging by plumbing ten stories up and whatnot. Well anyways, that's where the fire escape was, though they had cut it off about two stories up. I had to climb up a support pole to reach it. And then go down an elevator shaft to get to the newer building. Once in it's always easy to find a way out. My first astonishing discovery was that the place was still completely furnished and obviously nobody had been in it for quite some time. I'm from California where land is worth more than gold so this was quite shocking. Also, the electricity was still on for some reason. There's a refrigerator downstairs in the kitchen that has the door ripped of and has been constantly on since 1988 and is probably still on. There was also a phone in the lobby that I used to get calls on. 713-something-1212. It's still listed and I used to get calls from people asking for room rates. The downstairs is actually really pretty. Tall ceilings and curved staircases, huge chandelliers and a beautiful solid marble statue in the entryway. Two libraries, (stocked completely with Texas law books) a patio area between the two buildings had a fountain and a jacuzzi, now smashed and covered in pigeon refuse. Anybody know why the hell they would leave the electricity on for so long? Makes no sense to me. The owner is obviously hoping for the "New Main Street" effect to take place that far south and have the building converted into lofts ala Rice. I don't see that happening anytime soon, but then again it's already been closed for 16 years. The upper floors are rather ugly and boring. Single hallways straight through with cookie cutter rooms on each side. The penthouse suites are kind of nice but still I don't think they could call this place urban lofts without gutting the whole building. There's no uniqueness to it. The older building was obviously a hell of a lot classier in it's day but when Best Western had control of it you could tell it was a bit cut rate. I have a pile of brochures for it from the 70's that I'll scan if I get the time. I think the hotel was mainly for visiting Shell employees across the street. They'll have to demolish the older building before they can do anything with the newer one, as they are both connected and the older one threatens to demolish itself any day now. I say smash it and start over, the building is too ugly to ever be profitable. But in the meantime, open it to the homeless sleeping on the sidewalks outside. (that's what I told the owner anyways, with a few expletives added in) They have the parking garage open now, mainly so the penny pinching millionaire can make 30 bucks a day and watch the building he's sitting on sit empty while people sleep outside. Sorry, I hate landlords, particularly that one. Any questions? Any other buildings worth getting into? I'll be back in Houston come January. Charles Grube beware.
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