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10 cool things about Houston in the 1980s


marmer

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Some of these have been mentioned in other threads, but I've been waxing nostalgic lately.

10. The Astrodome

9. Astroworld

8. Neal's Ice Cream

7. Cactus Music, the big store

6. Full-scale opera and ballet performances at Miller Theatre. (and not ridiculously crowded)

5. Easy, cheap parking everywhere

4. World Toy and Gift

3. San Jacinto Inn

2. Gilley's

1. River Oaks Theatre repertory movies

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Some of these have been mentioned in other threads, but I've been waxing nostalgic lately.

6. Full-scale opera and ballet performances at Miller Theatre. (and not ridiculously crowded)

Performances are no longer "full-scale?" What's the difference?

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10) Confetti

9) Galveston Mardi Gras

8) Power Tools

7) Rendezvous Houston

6) The Carabana Club

5) US Olympic Festival

4) 1986 NL Championship

3) Hurricane Alicia party

2) The Twin Towers Hakeem and Ralph

1) Challenger Explosion ( not 'cool' at all, but rather the pulling together of the citizens of the city in its aftermath)

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Lockmat, what I meant in #6 was very traditional works, costumes and staging, such as Madame Butterfly or Swan Lake. I remember seeing both of those at Miller. Since then, I think both HGO and Houston Ballet have dropped their Miller offerings due to budget cuts. The last few were very reduced in scale, with premieres of unfamiliar new works, projection-heavy staging, etc.

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Late night House of Pies or One's A Meal runs should make at least honorable mention.

Though I would not put them in the 'cool' category, the 1980 Heat Wave and the also 1980 Hurricane Allen evacuation were certainly memorable. Of course, the Allen evacuation was far eclipsed by Hurricane Rita, which set a standard for evacuation misery that will likely never be topped.

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Late night House of Pies or One's A Meal runs should make at least honorable mention.

Though I would not put them in the 'cool' category, the 1980 Heat Wave and the also 1980 Hurricane Allen evacuation were certainly memorable. Of course, the Allen evacuation was far eclipsed by Hurricane Rita, which set a standard for evacuation misery that will likely never be topped.

I very nearly put One's A Meal in my list. I thought about House of Pies, but it's still here and mostly unchanged. Jamail's Grocery next to House of Pies would have been a good one, but I had only ten.

By the way, I like your list. Rendezvous Houston was really cool, for one.

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Oh Yes - Houston in the 80's

1. Oil bust 1982-1986

2. Unemployment of 9.3% in 1983

3. Dozens of Banks and S&Ls go bust

4. Shamrock Hotel torn down

5. Nolan Ryan traded to the Rangers

6. Much of Market Square destroyed

7. The Katy Prairie begins to be destroyed

8. Houston Gamblers formed (what a joke)

9. Sheila Jackson Lee first elected to office

10. West U tear down phase begins

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Oh Yes - Houston in the 80's

1. Oil bust 1982-1986

2. Unemployment of 9.3% in 1983

3. Dozens of Banks and S&Ls go bust

4. Shamrock Hotel torn down

5. Nolan Ryan traded to the Rangers

6. Much of Market Square destroyed

7. The Katy Prairie begins to be destroyed

8. Houston Gamblers formed (what a joke)

9. Sheila Jackson Lee first elected to office

10. West U tear down phase begins

Someone needs their diaper changed?

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Someone needs their diaper changed?

Nah, the diaper is ok. I just don't have any nostalgia for Houston in the 80's.

Do you remember trying to drive to IAH before the Hardy or Beltway Toll roads?

What about Westheimer after they restriped it to add lanes. Buses didn't even fit within the new lanes.

The whole city was a mess in the 80's. And then there were the Oilers, Jeeze.

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10) Confetti

9) Galveston Mardi Gras

8) Power Tools

7) Rendezvous Houston

6) The Carabana Club

5) US Olympic Festival

4) 1986 NL Championship

3) Hurricane Alicia party

2) The Twin Towers Hakeem and Ralph

1) Challenger Explosion ( not 'cool' at all, but rather the pulling together of the citizens of the city in its aftermath)

I see your Confetti and Power Tools and raise you a Cardi's and Island!

Ah, someone else with fond memorires of the Caribana. I remember 3 for 1 drinks there, and

'New Wave' nights on Tues or Wed--can't remember which.

Add to the list:

Phi Slama Jama

The Old Kemah drawbridge

Ale House

shows at Rockefeller's

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I see your Confetti and Power Tools and raise you a Cardi's and Island!

Ah, someone else with fond memorires of the Caribana. I remember 3 for 1 drinks there, and

'New Wave' nights on Tues or Wed--can't remember which.

3 for 1's rocked! I used to tend bar at Dan & Nick's Sportsmarket a block away at Rice and Kirby. We would walk down to the 'Bana, hit the 3 for 1, and go back to work. Great buzz for a couple of bucks! Sadly, when the owners of Rice Village decided to renovate, they deemed a club that catered to Reggae lovers to be incompatible with their plans and refused to renew the lease. Caribana moved into Earl Campbell's old country bar on Bellaire or Bissonnet(?) off of the Southwest Freeway. I went once with a couple of my cooks. Nearly got myself killed. While the Rice Village location attracted many immigrants from Africa and the islands, the new location was quickly taken over by drug dealers who figured that I was a cop. My friends overheard them talking and quickly hustled me out. Last time I ever went to the 'Bana. :(

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Nah, the diaper is ok. I just don't have any nostalgia for Houston in the 80's.

Do you remember trying to drive to IAH before the Hardy or Beltway Toll roads?

What about Westheimer after they restriped it to add lanes. Buses didn't even fit within the new lanes.

The whole city was a mess in the 80's. And then there were the Oilers, Jeeze.

A person who did not love the frenetic roller coaster ride of 1980s Houston must either be addicted to Master Planned Communities and a member of the HOA board, or a former S&L president. The city saw the population explosion in the early 80s, followed by the bust in the middle, and the climb out of the rubble in the end. It was a great place to spend your 20-something years, when you owned no real estate and no business, and spent most of the decade in school. I am sure it was rough for some, but the 80s was the last decade of unbridled hell raising on a budget, and combined with the Boomtown atmosphere, it was a free-for-all.

Sorry you missed out on the fun. ;)

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I am sure it was rough for some, but the 80s was the last decade of unbridled hell raising on a budget, and combined with the Boomtown atmosphere, it was a free-for-all.

Sorry you missed out on the fun. ;)

Yes. Exactly.

Houston was cheap, fun, and safe. Within reason, of course. And there were way more quirky clubs/bars/restaurants/shops than there are in today's over-developed mass market national brand sprawl.

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It was a great place to spend your 20-something years, when you owned no real estate and no business, and spent most of the decade in school. I am sure it was rough for some, but the 80s was the last decade of unbridled hell raising on a budget, and combined with the Boomtown atmosphere, it was a free-or-all.

Here, here!

Don't forget the corporately-sancitoned hell-raising. As the 80s came to a close, I was just out of school, working, and vivdly remember the last of the big law firms' Christmas parties in 1988 and 89--V&E, Fullright, Baker Botts laywers, doing coke in the bathrooms and groping each other in empty rooms after pillaging the open bar.

I've heard similar stories about the 'hospitality suites' at the Offshore Technology Conference before the bust.

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...and many times there was an associated stop at #'s and/or house of pies. ok i just had a judy's flashback too.

Now musicman, I know you know the "unofficial" name for House of Pies is House of Guys. I mean, if we are gonna talk "Houston Nostalgia" here. ;):lol:

My 10:

10) Ocean Club

9) Xcess (next to Cooter's)

8) Cooter's

7) Windsor Theater

6) Games People Play

5) Astroworld

4) The Railhead

3) NRG's

2) #'s

1) Cruising Westheimer

Edited by TJones
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Yes. Exactly.

Houston was cheap, fun, and safe. Within reason, of course. And there were way more quirky clubs/bars/restaurants/shops than there are in today's over-developed mass market national brand sprawl.

Safe in the 80's? - Houston's murder rate in the late 70's through 1985 was four time higher than it is now. No, Houston in the 80's was much more dangerous than it is now.

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Safe in the 80's? - Houston's murder rate in the late 70's through 1985 was four time higher than it is now. No, Houston in the 80's was much more dangerous than it is now.

Agreed, but we weren't crybabies about it then. To hear people screaming today, you'd think it was escape from New York in real time. I'm telling ya, it was a much better time back then. The narcissism was innocent, not the evil brand that we're selling today.

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I was just a little kid in the 80's but I remember going on a road trip in my dad's blue Oldsmobile. One of my earliest memories was driving through downtown and looking through the backseat window up in awe at the First Interstate Plaza (now the Wells Fargo Tower).

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I was just a little kid in the 80's but I remember going on a road trip in my dad's blue Oldsmobile. One of my earliest memories was driving through downtown and looking through the backseat window up in awe at the First Interstate Plaza (now the Wells Fargo Tower).

Me too. And yelling excitedly to my mom that that's where I wanted to live when I grew up.

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Agreed, but we weren't crybabies about it then. To hear people screaming today, you'd think it was escape from New York in real time. I'm telling ya, it was a much better time back then. The narcissism was innocent, not the evil brand that we're selling today.

Again, yes. You had to be careful but pretty much everywhere I went felt perfectly safe. I was worried about break-ins in my Montrose duplex, but we never had one. I do remember the statistics about murder rates but that didn't seem to be what we worried about then.

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Me too. And yelling excitedly to my mom that that's where I wanted to live when I grew up.

Of course the buildings are all still there and still very cool, but driving down Louisiana Street to show off the new cool skyscrapers was one of my favorite things to do with out-of-town visitors in the 80s.

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While there's no harm in the old folks sitting in their rocking chairs, spitting at the stove and engaging in nostalgia for the halcyon days of youth ("You young-uns don't know how to have fun like we did in my day!"), it might bear pointing out that the 1980s as a whole were an awful decade for Houston. A LOT of people lost their jobs and left town, and the terms "foreclosure belt" and "see-through skyscraper" were taken to refer to Houston. Dozens of banks failed, and years were lost in terms of population and growth. All that said, the city was wise enough to take advantage of the bust to work on improving infrastructure.

Just about the low point was reached when local businesses decided that they could fight the slump and improve morale by answering the phone "Houston proud!"

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Subdude, you old fuddy-duddy. There are numerous threads about the housing and oil collapses. In fact, if you search for them, you'll find that most of us old folk are well represented in the replies. However, the title of THIS thread is to note that even in the darkest hours, humanity still manages to survive and even occasionally enjoy themselves. I don't need to be reminded how bad the 80s were. I still remember the 60 job rejections in the summer of 82. I still remember the 18% interest rate on my first car loan and the identical 18% mortgage rate that kept me from buying my first home. But, since this thread is about the COOL things in Houston during the 80s, I commented on them.

I guess what I am trying to say is....

....you're off topic! Now, either point out something cool, or get off our cloud (not an 80s reference). ;)

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As for downtown in the 80's. Forget it. You left downtown after work quickly. Nobody wanted to be there after dark. Comparing downtown now to the way it was in 80's? Jeeze give me break. I think that everyone, no matter the age, thinks that things were better wherever they were at the time they were a kid. Kids typically remember the good things and see the world through rose colored glasses. When we get older we begin to see things how they really are.

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As for downtown in the 80's. Forget it. You left downtown after work quickly. Nobody wanted to be there after dark. Comparing downtown now to the way it was in 80's? Jeeze give me break. I think that everyone, no matter the age, thinks that things were better wherever they were at the time they were a kid. Kids typically remember the good things and see the world through rose colored glasses. When we get older we begin to see things how they really are.

GTO, I have agreed with every one of your posts. In fact, since I was a frequent Theatre District-goer then, I rather enjoyed how un-crowded downtown was. It made event parking and getting into the few Theatre District restaurants very easy. If you stayed with the crowds, it was perfectly safe. The only thing you didn't do is go out to dinner after a show and leave your car in the garage after most people left. I did it twice and had my car broken into both times. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too surprised to have that happen now.

So why don't you post some things that you remember that were cool about the 80s?

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Lizzard's on Fountainview

Comedy Workshop and the Comics Annex

Rosco's Jazz Bar (tended bar there)

Remington's Jazz (cocktailed there)

Birdwatchers

Kawliga's

Caribana (PJ)

Rivoli

Houlihan's (tended bar there)

Sam's (when it was still good)

Cooter's

Randy's

Judge's

Eddie's Pizza

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Late night House of Pies or One's A Meal runs should make at least honorable mention.

Though I would not put them in the 'cool' category, the 1980 Heat Wave and the also 1980 Hurricane Allen evacuation were certainly memorable. Of course, the Allen evacuation was far eclipsed by Hurricane Rita, which set a standard for evacuation misery that will likely never be topped.

Marini's Empanade House, the original Harlow's (pre Landry's), Spud-u-Like..they sold a baked potato the size of a damned football!

I know it says ten, but the late 70's and early 80's were kinda hazy for me....I vaguely remember all the clubs switching from disco or fern bars to pseudo cowboy joints....and I think I had a motorcycle then .....

Edited by Native Son
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GTO, I have agreed with every one of your posts. In fact, since I was a frequent Theatre District-goer then, I rather enjoyed how un-crowded downtown was. It made event parking and getting into the few Theatre District restaurants very easy. If you stayed with the crowds, it was perfectly safe. The only thing you didn't do is go out to dinner after a show and leave your car in the garage after most people left. I did it twice and had my car broken into both times. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too surprised to have that happen now.

So why don't you post some things that you remember that were cool about the 80s?

I can't think of anything in Houston that was "cool" in the 80's. I think that it pretty much sucked during that time.

Well, there was that All-you-can-eat Steak place out by Sharpstown Mall. What the hell was it called?

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GTO, I have agreed with every one of your posts. In fact, since I was a frequent Theatre District-goer then, I rather enjoyed how un-crowded downtown was. It made event parking and getting into the few Theatre District restaurants very easy. If you stayed with the crowds, it was perfectly safe. The only thing you didn't do is go out to dinner after a show and leave your car in the garage after most people left. I did it twice and had my car broken into both times. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too surprised to have that happen now.

So why don't you post some things that you remember that were cool about the 80s?

All right, you are twisting my arm. Here is another thing that was cool about Houston in the 80's.

You could take a helicopter from the Westchase Hilton or the Galleria to IAH. It was the only way to beat the horrendous traffic on 59 and 45 at that time.

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I can't think of anything in Houston that was "cool" in the 80's. I think that it pretty much sucked during that time.

Well, there was that All-you-can-eat Steak place out by Sharpstown Mall. What the hell was it called?

the nursing home didn't take yall out?

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I loved the 80's. I got my first apartment in 1981 and we all just had a total blast for the entire (decadent) decade.

Speaking of all-you-can-eat. Remember Boston Sea Party's buffet?

Oh yeah. We also got MTV, Nightline, Dallas, Dynasty, etc. during these times.

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I loved the 80's. I got my first apartment in 1981 and we all just had a total blast for the entire (decadent) decade.

Me too. I am a total product of the era. In 1980 I was a 16-year-old, disaffected suburban youth who had discovered garage bands, Montrose and scuzzy downtown bars (mmm...old Warrens), and by the end of the decade was a fully formed, adult citizen who had spent the decade generally living life to as much excess as I could manage whilst staying out of jail (anybody remember it being called the Whitmire Hilton?)

Which in retrospect sounds funny and a little pathetic, as I sit here in my beige corporate office slinging presentations about life insurance and market indices. But, I made it through intact. A lot of people crashed and burned back then.

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I can't think of anything in Houston that was "cool" in the 80's. I think that it pretty much sucked during that time.

Well, there was that All-you-can-eat Steak place out by Sharpstown Mall. What the hell was it called?

One thing I did a lot if in the 80s was go visit friends in other large cities. I went to Boston and New York and had a very serious job offer from an institution in LA. I was always very glad to get back to Houston. In terms of traffic, cost of living, commute, all that "grownup" stuff, I can promise you that Houston did not suck when compared to the larger East and West Coast cities.

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Me too. I am a total product of the era. In 1980 I was a 16-year-old, disaffected suburban youth who had discovered garage bands, Montrose and scuzzy downtown bars (mmm...old Warrens), and by the end of the decade was a fully formed, adult citizen who had spent the decade generally living life to as much excess as I could manage whilst staying out of jail (anybody remember it being called the Whitmire Hilton?)

Which in retrospect sounds funny and a little pathetic, as I sit here in my beige corporate office slinging presentations about life insurance and market indices. But, I made it through intact. A lot of people crashed and burned back then.

Yup, I turned 20 a few days before the decade started, and turned 30 a few days before it ended. I suppose I could cry about all the things that were not perfect during the decade, but what would that help? Frankly, one of the most impressive things about that decade (other than the cheap booze and chicks) was the way the city pulled together during the many blows we took. Call it sappy, but there was a "We're all in this together" attitude during that time that cemented my love for this city. I still love Houston, but the Me first attitude of the last 10 years is a decidedly less attractive quality.

I guess we should start a 'What sucked about the 80s' thread for the downers.

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