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Houston in the 1990s


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With my new Houston Library Card and my ability to remotely access Houston Chronicle archives, I've found out all sorts of neat things that don't exist anymore in Houston, such as that two-level McDonald's in Uptown, Fiesta, the life and death of AppleTree...well, those are mostly stores and stuff because that's what I've tended to look up, and the fact that most of my 1990s Houston nostalgia is only from freeways (sad, ain't it?)

I made this thread for discussion of Houston in the 1990s, although photos/ads would be great.

A number of things from the 1990s in Houston have all been but forgotten...remember Wolfe Nursery? No?

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Talking 90's, what about the club scene, I.e. Club 6400, Blue Planet, Kaboom!, Bahama Mama's, and such? I've got a heck of a story from the 90's. Rockets game 7, 1994. They beat the Knicks for their

Luke's Hamburgers, I think

We moved to Houston in Sept 1999...here's a few things that I can remember that existed at the very end of the decade but are no longer with us or were brand new when we arrived.   First to mind is

We moved to Houston in Sept 1999...here's a few things that I can remember that existed at the very end of the decade but are no longer with us or were brand new when we arrived.

 

First to mind is the Hong Kong Supermarket Mall.  Opened November or December of '99.  They put up Christmas decorations for the grand openning.  Took them about 10 years to finally take the decorations down.

 

Sushi Miyagi at the corner of Richmond and Sage.  Good and cheap sushi.  Closed in the early '00's. 

 

The Westpark tollway was still a rail line.  I recall seeing short trains a couple of times before they started construction.

 

Viet Hoa Supermarket on the Beltway at Beechnut was still a Kmart.  As was the Burlington Coat Factory at Hwy 6 and Westheimer.  The Builder's Square next to it was already shuttered at that point.  In the parking lot there was a Service Merchandise.

 

West Oaks Mall was still a real mall then, with the typical department stores and chain retailers. Early 00's remodel didn't work out so well.  Now it's got one foot in the grave and the other foot is attempting to reform into outdoor oriented retail.  We'll see how long that lasts.

 

City Centre, Sugarland Town Center, The Woodlands Town Center and the like were still in the future.  Town & Country Mall was still kicking, though it was well on the way to a deadmalls.com listing.  Sadly, it reminds me somewhat of how West Oaks has been fairing recently.  Maybe they'll demolish the rest of WO and do something new.

 

Andrau Airpark had just started to be redeveloped into Royal Oaks.  There were woods still at the corner of Kirkwood and Westheimer (now an HEB, Walmar, and Lowes).  For quite a while you could see the remains of a road going back into what used to be the airfield.  I think there was a little church there too, but am not quite sure.  West of that on Westheimer, but before Dairy Ashford, I recall seeing a few cows grazing on fenced in plots.

 

There were two dollar theaters on Westheimer.  One, across the parking lot from Phoenicia, had movies for 50 cents on Tuesdays.  That is closed now but the other at Synott and Westheimer is still going strong.  I'm not even sure where the next nearest dollar theater would be.

 

The Astrodome was still in use and Reliant hadn't been started yet.

 

I-10 was it's pre-reconstruction self.  There used to be a place on or near one of the overpasses where the road shifted and if you were going too fast and not paying attention you could suddenly end up in the next lane over.  Glad they straightened that out.

 

The Bellaire chinatown was big, but not nearly as big as it is today.  Downtown still had a semblance of a chinatown as did midtown, though both were already in decline.  I miss Fu Kim restaurant and it's dim sum.

 

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I remember Wolfe Nursery on Beechnut.  Just west of the nursery was Builder's Square, which was briefly redeveloped into a store called Pace; after that it was torn down to make way for Lowe's.  Next door to Builder's Square was a Toy Store called Children's Palace, which was later redeveloped into a music store.  I think a bike store is there now?

 

A few more memories:

  • Sharpstown Mall was still respectable in the early part of the decade, but we stopped shopping there around 1995 because of the increased crime in the parking lot.
  • A redeveloped Meyerland Plaza opened ~1996
  • Video Central rented VHS tapes and video games.
  • The Rockets and the Houston Aeros played their games in the Summit, which later became Compaq Center, which later became Lakewood Church.
  • There were large street parties held on the Richmond strip after the Rockets won the Championship two years in a row.
  • There was a lot of vacant land along the south side of 59 between S. Shepherd and 610 that was redeveloped towards the end of the decade.
  • An outdoor concert venue called "Lone Star Amphitheater" was located on Westpark, just outside of 610.  It was later converted into a church called "Prayer Mountain".  I think it was demolished in the late '90s to make room for the Westpark Tollway.
  • Many of the high-rise condo towers around the Galleria were built in the later part of the decade.
  • The Houston Chronicle bought the Houston Post in the early part of the decade.
  • The Bel-Air Theater on Bellaire Blvd closed, and was converted to an indoor playland for kids called "Discovery Zone".
  • "Celebration Station" on 59 and "Fame City" on Beechnut were popular places for kids.
  • The Village Arcade shopping center opened in Rice Village (~1994?).  A few years later, The Village Arcade II opened on the next block.
  • The Hard Rock Cafe was still on Kirby, and it had a '60s-era Thunderbird mounted on a pole.
  • There was a car dealership (Buick or Cadillac?) on the SE corner of S Shepherd and Westheimer in the early part of the decade.  Across the street was an Academy Sporting Goods Store and an Oak Farms Dairy facility.
  • Dietrich Coffee House on Westheimer was a great place to hang out and people watch.
  • Bookstop on S. Shepherd was an awesome book store.
  • There was a movie theater on West Gray (Cineplex Odeon?).
  • The Jeff Davis hospital sat abandoned on Allen Parkway as a giant creepy Art Deco monument.
  • A blighted Allen Parkway Village sat next door, adding to the creepiness.
  • The rice mills were still standing on Studemont in the early part of the decade.
  • Washington Avenue and the surrounding area was in pretty rough shape.
  • We would roll up the car windows and lock the doors when we drove through the Heights area.
  • The long-vacant Rice Hotel downtown was renovated and re-opened as the "Rice Lofts."  "Enron Field" opened about the same time.  There was a lot of hope that these developments would revitialize downtown.  They eventually did, but I think it took much longer than everyone anticipated.
  • It snowed in the early part of the decade (~1992 or 1993?)
  • There were some big floods around 1995 or 1996 that caused many businesses and schools to close.  I seem to remember there being a lot of damage in the Kingwood area.
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An outdoor concert venue called "Lone Star Amphitheater" was located on Westpark, just outside of 610. It was later converted into a church called "Prayer Mountain". I think it was demolished in the late '90s to make room for the Westpark Tollway.

It briefly became a Houston Garden Centers location, which was the last use of the property. I read somewhere that it was created from leftover dirt from 1970s constructions projects.

We would roll up the car windows and lock the doors when we drove through the Heights area.

Whoa. I knew The Heights was not a great place prior to gentrification, but that's really telling. Might have to do with the MKT railroad. My dad spent a few years in The Heights when my grandfather moved there sometime in the 1960s, and at that point, The Heights would've been still affordable to live in on a blue collar salary.

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Tremendous list, 9075. The one memory on my 90's list, would be the closure of the last drive-in theater in Houston, the I-45, in 1992. I grew up in several of the drive-ins here, specifically the Airline & Shepherd, and then the I-45 when it opened in 82.

Oh, IronTiger, I could tell you some stories about the Heights. I grew up there in the 70s and early 80s. What the Heights is now, isn't even close. I went through there the other day and saw they tore down most of Baptist Temple. Made my heart sink, as there will never be chimings bells coming from the tower anymore at noon on 20th and Yale. It just isn't home anymore. It just isn't the Heights anymore.

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 Heh, I'm just going to go all over the place with this topic. I'll come at this as someone who was a kid for the decade and lived on the southwest side of the metro.

 

A number of things from the 1990s in Houston have all been but forgotten...remember Wolfe Nursery? No?

 

I do. My grandparents and my mom went to one that was located on Murphy Road near 90-A in Stafford a bunch back in the early and mid 90s. Always thought it was a pretty neat place. Not sure when it was demolished though. That particular intersection had a few other businesses no longer there including Furrow, across the road and Toddle House which was on the other side of the tracks.

 

Then again, this was back when there wasn't nearly as much going on at the intersection, yet there would be a pretty nice bottleneck if there were a train passing through at almost any time of day.

 

I was really just growing up then - had (and still have) a big interest in weather, so here are some of those thoughts.

 

I do remember a bit about the 1992 Tornadoes that went across town. It was the first time I really paid attention to severe weather. Was fascinated since it was the first time I'd ever seen the sky become green. The storms themselves went around our town, but I'm pretty sure our school did some fundraisers for the families in Channelview. Astounding that the event wasn't the media fiasco it would be today.

 

The really big weather event I remember was the flooding in October 1994. They actually cancelled school for several days straight since the Brazos was starting to not just rise, but back into several areas it hadn't been known to in the past. We, of course, never saw more than the regular puddles and maybe a bit of flash flooding that drained off within an hour. More than that, I remember when the San Jacinto River caught fire. That was a trip watching it on TV, seeing the flames move toward the slicks of oil and chemicals and then a big flare up! Blew my young mind back then.

 

It did snow in the early 90s. I think it was 1993, since I was in second grade and they all had us get construction paper and run outside to catch the snowflakes. Didn't last too long, of course. I think it may have snowed later in the decade elsewhere around town, but not where I grew up. We had a couple of pretty good ice storms as well - one in maybe early 1994 and another in early 97. Guessing those dates, but all I remember was being able to stay home from school and going outside and seeing the icicles on EVERYTHING. more so with the former.

 

West Oaks was THE mall for the first half of the decade, for where I lived, and my parents would take me there on Saturdays and we'd go to a bunch of places there. We only went to Westwood a few times before we decided it had really gone down the crapper. As for West Oaks - always liked the clock in the middle as well as the Birraporretti's where we'd have lunch sometimes. At times we'd go to the General Cinema 3 Theater in the strip center across 6 for a movie. I remember taking a few of their directories back in the 90s and held onto them for a while. Not sure if I still have them in storage.

 

Then First Colony Mall opened. The mall that my mom said had been planned since the ancient 70's was a reality. From there the intersection of 6 and 59 became the retail heart of Fort Bend County and the retail and residential gaps between Williams Way on the east side of Richmond to that intersection began to fill in... quickly. Mervyn's California even sent out promotional videos in the mail announcing their grand opening. May still have it around.

 

Everyone was into the Rockets, of course, after the championships. I grew up watching them on TV & listening to Gene Peterson on the radio with my brothers so I even knew what bandwagon fans were back then. What was funny was how fast the tents hawking anything that had to do with the Rockets popped up, especially after the second title. Actually got my shirt (the one that was everywhere) from one of those guys. Not overpriced, surprisingly enough, even though you know that dude just blew a wad on 'em from Academy or Oshman's or wherever trying to turn a profit. Still have it tucked away in my drawer of now 'vintage' clothing.

 

My parents subscribed to the Chronicle & one of my aunts that we saw regularly took the Post. On weekends we'd pick up their papers and add them to the collection we'd recycle for the school I was attending. Always liked reading the Post more than the Chronicle. Better writing, features and inserts on the whole. Didn't say I was a normal kid. On one of my old VHS tapes, I recall seeing Channel 2 did a whole special about the final day of the Post's operations the day it closed down in April 1995 - this was after the sale to Post-Newsweek from the Hobby's H&C Communications. Never understood why it was the big deal it was until later.

 

Was extremely fortunate though that the Fort Bend County library I went to regularly had, and still does have hardbound index archives and microfilm of each edition of The Houston Post from 1980 until the early 90s, if not the end. I've used them for a fair amount of my research into previous posts on 80's & early 90's era projects and can conclude that most of today's local business writers who focus on real estate (let us name no one) don't hold a candle to Carl Hooper, IMHO.

 

The Power of Houston - especially the first one. Definitely remember Project Bandaloop performing maneuvers vertically up the side of One Shell Plaza and led up to the huge fireworks & laser show that outdid Rendez-vous Houston. Seriously, a playlist that (from what I remember) had The Rolling Stones, Brooks & DunnKirk FranklinSelena, Earth Wind & Fire and Capella amongst others. Eclectic, and still one of the best things I've ever seen anywhere.

 

I know I'm missing a lot. I also know that I'm rambling... Oh well. I can try and fill in some blanks.

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Was extremely fortunate though that the Fort Bend County library I went to regularly had, and still does have hardbound index archives and microfilm of each edition of The Houston Post from 1980 until the early 90s, if not the end. I've used them for a fair amount of my research into previous posts on 80's & early 90's era projects and can conclude that most of today's local business writers who focus on real estate (let us name no one) don't hold a candle to Carl Hooper, IMHO.

I'm pretty sure that the local university library has Post microfilms as well, though they're not very well indexed. It's a shame that's it not available on the Internet anymore. I think I read somewhere on this forum that the 1990s is when Astroworld really started to deteriorate, and by the time they tended to correct the problem in the early 2000s, it was too late.

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I don't know that I'd say Astroworld really deteriorated. The 90's saw the installation of a couple of new coasters like the Taz's Texas Twister and Serial Thriller. Of course, I think it was in the early 90's that the horribly ridiculous Mayan Mind Bender debuted. We stood in line for 2 1/2 hours for that thing, and it was the first and last time I ever rode it.

The park had its ups and down like any business. Some people consider the takeover by Six Flags as the turning point in Astroworld's ultimate demise. Some say it was Reliant Stadium's fault by wanting to take the parking area away for use by the Complex. Regardless of opinion, the park was never going to be anything more than what it was. It couldn't expand the park, due to the roads that surrounded it, and kept tearing down rides and replacing them with modern steel roller coasters.

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I don't know that I'd say Astroworld really deteriorated. The 90's saw the installation of a couple of new coasters like the Taz's Texas Twister and Serial Thriller. Of course, I think it was in the early 90's that the horribly ridiculous Mayan Mind Bender debuted. We stood in line for 2 1/2 hours for that thing, and it was the first and last time I ever rode it.

The park had its ups and down like any business. Some people consider the takeover by Six Flags as the turning point in Astroworld's ultimate demise. Some say it was Reliant Stadium's fault by wanting to take the parking area away for use by the Complex. Regardless of opinion, the park was never going to be anything more than what it was. It couldn't expand the park, due to the roads that surrounded it, and kept tearing down rides and replacing them with modern steel roller coasters.

What I read was that Astroworld's affordable admission basically gave parents with unruly kids a "babysitter" and thugs would hang out there. I mean, this happened just three months before closing.

Another thing I remember is that in the Houston Museum of Nat. Science, the McDonald's was still there, but they offered an expanded menu including themed meal sets (I remember some sort of planet-themed combos, and they also had "shaved ice", which were just snowcones)

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Lol, HTX! I know what you mean. Lord, I graduated in 84 so this is certainly not ancient history that we're talking about.

As far as thugs, I guess it depends on through whose eyes your looking I guess. I remember walking through Astroworld and getting those "get a job" looks from the older patrons. Funny thing was, I actually had a good job that just doesn't mind an employee with long hair and a few tattoos. I don't remember any visits to Astroworld being overrun by thugs and misfits. Felt safe enough to take my then 10 year old for the last two weekends of operation.

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It briefly became a Houston Garden Centers location, which was the last use of the property. I read somewhere that it was created from leftover dirt from 1970s constructions projects.

Whoa. I knew The Heights was not a great place prior to gentrification, but that's really telling. Might have to do with the MKT railroad. My dad spent a few years in The Heights when my grandfather moved there sometime in the 1960s, and at that point, The Heights would've been still affordable to live in on a blue collar salary.

 

This is from a Houston Press article last month about the Heights....

 

 

It's a far different place from when I bought there back in 1996. At that time, there was still regular gunfire nearby. I saw a car chase right on my block complete with one car blowing out the back window of the other with a shotgun in a drug deal gone bad. About 2 a.m. one New Year's Eve, I heard the familiar sound of a machine gun -- yes, fully auto and everything -- being fired off just down the street.

 

 

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/12/5_reasons_it_might_be_time_to.php

 

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Some more memories:

  • There was a local cell service provider named "Houston Cellular".
  • Stør Furniture opened on I-10 and later became Ikea.
  • There was a restaurant called Danna's on North Post Oak that was demolished to reconfigure the 610/I-10 interchange.
  • River Oaks Body Shop on Kirby was a restaurant called Frankie Mandola's.
  • Katy Mills Mall opened at the end of the decade.
  • Pin Oak Stables was demolished to make way for Apartments, a store called Incredible Universe, and a Home Depot.  Incredible Universe went under and the building became a satellite campus for HCC.
  • Pharx-More stores.
  • Albertson's entered the local grocery market.
  • There were problems with gangs and the ways they initiated new members.  One gang rented a room in the hotel at BW8 & I-10 and had new members shoot out car windows on the freeway.
  • Marshall Field's left the Houston market.
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A few things I remember from the 90s.

 

Weiner's clothing store.

 

Gulfgate Mall was still alive, but on life support

 

Going to Marshall's and Target on Kleckley across from Almeda Mall

 

Going to Foley's at Almeda Mall

 

Going to Phar-Mor on S. Post Oak at W. Bellfort

 

Feeding the ducks at Meyer Park and at Hermann Park

 

Eating at Piccadilly in Gulfgate after church and going to Hobby Airport afterward and parking at the cul-de-sac on Convair and Lockheed to watch the planes for a few minutes before going home

 

HEB entering the Houston market

 

Downtown streets being torn up due to all the rebuilding projects

 

The expanse of old railroad tracks before Enron Field was built

 

President Clinton's visit to Houston in 1996 for Barbara Jordan's funeral. His motorcade passed our house. My dad took me to EFD to get a glimpse of Air Force 1, and I remember that some shuttle astronauts were arriving back from FL at the same time. I think President Clinton said a few words to congratulate them.

 

My parents used to ride down to Pearland to check out this sleepy new development called Silverlake. It seemed so pastoral before development really kicked into high gear.

 

Pacing the freight train on the MKT while riding on I-10 on the way to San Antonio.

 

I remember we'd pass a go-kart track on US59 at the Westpark curve. I never visited it, but my dad told me that some murders happened there.

 

Malibu Grand Prix on 610 between I-10 and 290.

 

Passing through downtown on a weekend and it looked like a ghost town.

 

The concern over Houston adding a new area code (281).

 

The controversy concerning disturbed graves somewhere along Allen Parkway.

 

More controversy over the proposal of adding TSU to the UH system.

 

A case of meningitis at my elementary school (Red El.) made the local news.

 

In the late 90s, the first lofts opened downtown. I remember hearing adults state things like "who'd want to live downtown?"

 

The mumblings about the proposed light rail line, and adults calling it a trolley.

 

Watching the local news and seeing newscasters and weathermen like Ron Stone, Neil Frank, Marlene McClinton, Steve Smith, Sylvan Rodriguez, Jan Carson, Lloyd Gite, Linda Lorelle, and me being afraid of Alvin Van Black for some reason.

 

The opening of the shiny, brand new Fred Hartman bridge. For a little kid like me, it was cool to go over such a high bridge.

 

The Goodyear blimp base in Spring.

 

Hobby Airport before the new terminal was built seemed so podunk inside.

 

Visiting the observation deck of the Transco Tower

 

Watching Jason's Lyric and recognizing Third Ward and a family friend playing the role of the bus driver.

 

Orbit being the Astros' mascot before their move to Enron Field.

 

Meeting Mattress Mac at Gallery Furniture one night.

 

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Yeah, there were lots of grocery turnovers during the 1990s. H-E-B entered with the seemingly-innocuous Pantry Foods concept, AppleTree spun off from Safeway in '89 but imploded a few years later, the life and death of Food Lion, and the relatively short time of Albertsons.

 

Houston Cellular became Cingular around 2001, which became the "new" AT&T.

 

Wasn't another thing in the 1990s involved the annexation of Kingwood?

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I remember we'd pass a go-kart track on US59 at the Westpark curve. I never visited it, but my dad told me that some murders happened there.

 

Malibu Grand Prix on 610 between I-10 and 290.

 

The track on 59 was a Malibu Grand Prix too. They had three locations in Houston. 

 

http://blog.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2012/02/fast-times-at-malibu-grand-prix/#3203101=0

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I distinctly recall a huge warehouse fire near downtown, or at least within the Loop... maybe early 1995 or 96? I think it took a few days to get completely out. I definitely remember that one of the stations (I think it was 2) kept cutting into whatever sports were on during the weekend to show the aerial shots.

 

I also remember a Two Pesos opened in my hometown and closed not too long after the whole court case involving Taco Cabana came to an end. Still waiting for a replacement TC.

 

Also, RABDARGAB

 

 

 

 

 

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I remember there being a rice mill in the shadows of downtown back in the 90s. I think it was on Allen Parkway?

Earlier poster said it was Studemont. I believe the only rice mill left in Houston proper is the Gulf Pacific Co. one on 290, which will almost certainly be torn down for the highway redevelopment. Sigh...no3.gif

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Aren't the big grain silos still on I-10 west, behind the community college? Those and the ones at Hempstead Hwy and Long Point are the only two I can think of that are left standing.

The silos on Studemont were the entire stretch of land from Walgreens to where that street is (don't know the name) where you enter the complex of condos off of Studemont. Used to be a big paper company right there too. In its place is that tall building next to Memorial / Allen Pkwy on Studemont.

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Aren't the big grain silos still on I-10 west, behind the community college? Those and the ones at Hempstead Hwy and Long Point are the only two I can think of that are left standing.

The silos on Studemont were the entire stretch of land from Walgreens to where that street is (don't know the name) where you enter the complex of condos off of Studemont. Used to be a big paper company right there too. In its place is that tall building next to Memorial / Allen Pkwy on Studemont.

 

That silo burned in the 80's - biggest fire I've ever seen in my life.

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One thing for sure is that in addition to rails still downtown, there were all sorts of crazy railroad crossings: MKT running through the Heights, crossing roads straight through intersections and directly parallel to the road (with not much ROW), Westpark and Edloe, Memorial Heights and Washington Avenue. That last one serviced a number of businesses demolished in the not so terribly distant past: Sacks Waste Paper, the Sears warehouse, etc.

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I remember Wolfe Nursery on Beechnut.  Just west of the nursery was Builder's Square, which was briefly redeveloped into a store called Pace; after that it was torn down to make way for Lowe's.  Next door to Builder's Square was a Toy Store called Children's Palace, which was later redeveloped into a music store.  I think a bike store is there now?

 

A few more memories:

  • Sharpstown Mall was still respectable in the early part of the decade, but we stopped shopping there around 1995 because of the increased crime in the parking lot.
  • A redeveloped Meyerland Plaza opened ~1996
  • Video Central rented VHS tapes and video games.
  • The Rockets and the Houston Aeros played their games in the Summit, which later became Compaq Center, which later became Lakewood Church.
  • There were large street parties held on the Richmond strip after the Rockets won the Championship two years in a row.
  • There was a lot of vacant land along the south side of 59 between S. Shepherd and 610 that was redeveloped towards the end of the decade.
  • An outdoor concert venue called "Lone Star Amphitheater" was located on Westpark, just outside of 610.  It was later converted into a church called "Prayer Mountain".  I think it was demolished in the late '90s to make room for the Westpark Tollway.
  • Many of the high-rise condo towers around the Galleria were built in the later part of the decade.
  • The Houston Chronicle bought the Houston Post in the early part of the decade.
  • The Bel-Air Theater on Bellaire Blvd closed, and was converted to an indoor playland for kids called "Discovery Zone".
  • "Celebration Station" on 59 and "Fame City" on Beechnut were popular places for kids.
  • The Village Arcade shopping center opened in Rice Village (~1994?).  A few years later, The Village Arcade II opened on the next block.
  • The Hard Rock Cafe was still on Kirby, and it had a '60s-era Thunderbird mounted on a pole.
  • There was a car dealership (Buick or Cadillac?) on the SE corner of S Shepherd and Westheimer in the early part of the decade.  Across the street was an Academy Sporting Goods Store and an Oak Farms Dairy facility.
  • Dietrich Coffee House on Westheimer was a great place to hang out and people watch.
  • Bookstop on S. Shepherd was an awesome book store.
  • There was a movie theater on West Gray (Cineplex Odeon?).
  • The Jeff Davis hospital sat abandoned on Allen Parkway as a giant creepy Art Deco monument.
  • A blighted Allen Parkway Village sat next door, adding to the creepiness.
  • The rice mills were still standing on Studemont in the early part of the decade.
  • Washington Avenue and the surrounding area was in pretty rough shape.
  • We would roll up the car windows and lock the doors when we drove through the Heights area.
  • The long-vacant Rice Hotel downtown was renovated and re-opened as the "Rice Lofts."  "Enron Field" opened about the same time.  There was a lot of hope that these developments would revitialize downtown.  They eventually did, but I think it took much longer than everyone anticipated.
  • It snowed in the early part of the decade (~1992 or 1993?)
  • There were some big floods around 1995 or 1996 that caused many businesses and schools to close.  I seem to remember there being a lot of damage in the Kingwood area.

 

 

Good list.  

 

I remember the popular movie theaters were the Cineplex on Fountainview, River Oaks, and Meyer Park 16.  All gone now, but that the time they were all considered plush and state-of-the-art.  

 

The 1990s were a major turnaround story for Houston.  At the beginning of the decade we were still deep within the bust of the 1980s, but ten years later the city had started a huge amount of redevelopment.  This was especially noticeable downtown, with the opening of the Rice, the streets improvement projects, the construction of Enron Field, the opening of numerous bars around Main Street, and the beginning of construction of the Reliant building, the first new downtown office building in more than a decade.  Houston was proud to be the home of two of the most important and fastest-growing  companies of the time:  Compaq and Enron.  

 

Another important change was the beginning of redevelopment in Midtown and Fourth Ward.  In 1990 Midtown was mostly vacant or home to sketchy "modeling studios".  

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DZ Discovery Zone on FM 1960. It blew Chuck-E-Cheeses out of the water (I think it's a candle store now). Marco's on Kuykendahl in the strip center where Klein Bank was. Was my favorite tex-mex place as a kid.

 

Also the tall hospital that use to be on Allen Parkway. I remember every time we would drive to see my dad we would pass it. I can also recall there being some kind of tall crops on FM 2920 @ Kuykendahl. Maybe corn? Oh and how could I forget Charlie's Hamburgers? Man those were SO GOOD. We use to eat there after seeing a movie at the theater which is now a fitness place on West Grey.

 

Edit: Enron Field... I remember my first game there. I got some nachos and tripped down the stairs and got a 3rd degree burn on my arm. The scar is still visible under my left arm. 

Edited by Montrose1100
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Aren't the big grain silos still on I-10 west, behind the community college? Those and the ones at Hempstead Hwy and Long Point are the only two I can think of that are left standing.

 

 

Those silos are still there along with the outbuildings.  It's Shadowdale RV & Boat Storage now.

 

http://www.shadowdalestorage.com/boat-rv-storage

 

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  • 3 months later...

I know this is a bit late, but I've just found this thread, and got 90's Houston on the brain and wanted to share or maybe even trigger some nostalgia.

 

Music Venues:

Millenium: It was a metal club on 1960 near the Hardy Toll Road. I was in a drum competition there in about 1994 (I lost in the first round to the eventual winner). There were always interesting people in there.

The Abyss: "Alternative" club on Washington by Westcott, that was shut down by about 1996. It was inside an old movie theater, and had a sloped floor going to the stage and a balcony. Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and other big acts of that day played there before they got big, and they happily plastered their logos on the walls. It was a good place to see a show.

The Engine Room: "Indie" club Downtown that, I guess, finally closed in '08. This was kind of a dump but they had some great bands come through. They charged for parking in their lot, but I would usually risk the street. I saw Man or Astroman, Built to Spill, and even Godspeed You! Black Emperor played there on their last tour.

Mary Jane's: Indie club on Washington. People will call this place "Mary Jane's Fat Cat," but that was a name change that occurred in about 2000, and I always hated the new name. My band at the time, in probably our biggest show, opened for The Gloria Record and Antarctica in, I believe, 1999. 

Hands Up Houston: Not a club, but a web site that existed in the mid- to late 90's where show listings were posted. At the time, that was the most reliable place to find out about these shows. A couple of years ago even, the site was still up, with concert calendars from 2000.

 

East Downtown:

El Sol Market: I don't know if there are already threads about this, but I'm sure there's info available online because of the pains Houston had with this place. It was in today's "EaDo" back when it was the epitome of urban wasteland. By the 90's, it was long-abandoned, but I know the big, white sign on the building's side was up well into the early 90's.

Francisco's: I don't know if this still exists, but it is/was a band rehearsal space on McKinney, just east of 59. I was there a lot in the early 2000's, but it was opened in the mid- or late 90's. It was just about the only place where you could practice at that time, so it was kind of a microcosm of Houston bands. They also had LAN parties some nights.

 

Southwest:

The South Main Motels: Does anyone remember any names? These were in their last days, and some had already been torn down. They rebuilt the road in the early 2000's, and that took care of some, but the Astrodome's demise seemed to closely coincide with theirs. In about 2000, I delivered a pizza to a crackhead in a room at one of them (she tipped me about $0.25), then refused to go down there again when they called back for more pizza because I was worried about them robbing me.

The Summit: My first NBA basketball game.

The Religious Tower: This was abandoned before the late 90's, I know, but I don't know its history because I cannot recall its name and it's, of course, been redeveloped into condos. It was at the southeast corner of Almeda & MacGregor. There was a church-looking building at the front, but then a 10- to 15-story brick tower behind it. The sign was still out, and it belonged to some church. Any ideas on this?

Alief: We almost moved to Alief when we first came to Houston, but it had already started its unfortunate decline by that time, in the early 90's, and it showed.

 

Southeast:

Gulfgate Bennigan's: It's my strongest memory of this area because it seemed so random, and we would go there quite a bit.

Mall of the Mainland: I remember going there in about 1996 to buy shoes, and I drove there a couple of times in 1999. The first time, the mall was pretty busy. I believe we even ate lunch there.

Gulf Greyhound Park opened in the early 90's.

 

North:

Greenspoint: It was still a really, really bad area in the early 90's, but we would go to the mall quite a bit before The Woodlands Mall opened in the mid-90's. We would not go there at night, as this was about the time they had the string of robberies/rapes where the assailants would hide under the cars and wait for you to return. The shopping center across I-45, then called "The Commons at Greenspoint," featured some sort of massive CD/computer/electronics store that I cannot recall the name of, but it only opened around 1994.

I-45 North: It was a parking lot until they finally rebuilt it, which I believe was in the mid-90's. It was two lanes in each direction north of 1960, and was in terrible shape south of there with these old overpasses for most of the intersections.

Hardy Toll Road: A virtual ghost freeway at that time. They filmed "The Chase" here and repainted the northern toll booth to look like a Mexican border crossing. It was like that for a few weeks.

Goodyear Blimp Station: People would always talk about how Phil Collins had used it at one point.

IAH: Rankin Road was the west entrance to the airport. Terminal B was the old Eastern Airlines terminal, and it was kind of creepily empty when they went under. The weird people mover in the basement (I was told that it still exists, but it's now only open to employees) was a fairly efficient way to get between the terminals, and there was even a stop at the hotel (always a Marriott). Terminal D was "IAB". As of my last flight into IAH, just a few months ago, Terminal A still looks exactly the same as it did in the early 90's. I may be mistaken on some of this stuff.

Sam Houston Race Park opened in the early 90's.

There was an antique car museum along I-45 South, just north of the Hardy Toll Road. It was part of a larger truck stop.

 

West:

The Igloo Factory/Plant: I was always so intrigued by this, I think because the logo made it look so fun. It was basically underneath the I-10/SHT interchange. I believe it closed with the Katy Freeway expansion.

 

East:

The Baytown Tunnel closed. I remember seeing it on the news. The Grand Parkway was supposed to be built within the next few years, though it would only exist near Katy until somewhat recently. I have a 1994 Key Map that prominently shows the proposed route in a red line.

 

That's all I can think of right now. I have a bunch of digital pictures of central Houston in 1999 that I have somewhere. Sorry if this is dull or well-tread.

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The South Main Motels: Does anyone remember any names? 

 

I remember an old neon sign for "The White House" that was visible from the Astrodome parking lot.  I am sure that the place was not nearly as classy as the name implied, but I thought the sign was neat.

 

I also remember a motel named "Sun Valley" right next to Target on South Main.  I think it had already closed by the 1990s, but it had some neat mid-century design features and graphics on the sign.

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Just wanted to update that I found the abandoned marketplace, and I was slightly off on the name: El Mercado del Sol. Photos and architectural renderings from 1985, and you can find a number of articles on its several sales and eventual loft conversion in the early 2000's through Google. According to IMDB, it was a filming location for RoboCop 2.

Still curious about the church compound on Almeda. That was not even that long ago...

 

One more: the flophouses Downtown on Chenevert. I think a couple of them even made it into the Enron Field days.

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Yeah, Mercado del Sol is now lofts. It was saddled with many problems, closing in 1987 after being in foreclosure since 1986. The problems were many: they tried to make it a touristy destination, but the location was hard to find, it wasn't in a good part of town, the center had lost about half of its tenants since it opened (and that probably wasn't even 100%) and by 1986 they were already finding alternative uses like an inhalant abuse center. 

 

It joined the ranks of many, many festival marketplaces opened in downtown areas in the 1980s that have since failed and closed (remember Catfish Town in Baton Rouge? No?)

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Greenspoint: It was still a really, really bad area in the early 90's, but we would go to the mall quite a bit before The Woodlands Mall opened in the mid-90's. We would not go there at night, as this was about the time they had the string of robberies/rapes where the assailants would hide under the cars and wait for you to return. The shopping center across I-45, then called "The Commons at Greenspoint," featured some sort of massive CD/computer/electronics store that I cannot recall the name of, but it only opened around 1994.

Were the "hiding under the cars" actually a real thing? That sounds more like an urban legend to me (look at your own car and try to crawl under it, and then crawl out of it. If you can do the former, can you get out quickly?)

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