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Houston Lost & Unbuilt


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I got the book "Houston: Lost & Unbuilt" for Christmas this year, and I gotta admit, it's a great book, filled with high-resolution pictures of the lost treasures of architectural history. Besides being somewhat out of date (2010) and unable to account for more lost treasures (the Foley's Building, Houston Main), it did seem a bit uneven on what was considered "lost". The Tower Theater in Montrose (at the time a Hollywood Video) and the Sakowitz Building were both considered to be "lost" (even though they structurally remain) and no word was given (at least on my first run through) of the 1939 Sears building (even though it technically still stands and operates as such to this day), nor to others (like Gulfgate, which has an abundance of information out there, including a map of stores). The author also takes a rather hard-line stance against urban sprawl (politics have no place in a coffee table book), even bringing up Whitmire's mass transit plan and Lanier's fight against it (for the record, it was never decided if it was to be a monorail, and it was definitely controversial for everyone), so that's another strike against it. Otherwise, it was a great book and definitely worth reading again (though it did seem a bit pricey)

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It's a strike against the book for explaining why and how urban sprawl boomed, because of an issue with mass transit vs Lanier? Or is it a strike for even going into the explanation of how such things were "lost"?


Sort of both, really. The original test monorail was "lost" but Whitmire's project wasn't officially monorail (just rumored as such, there was even discussion on avoiding the term "people mover"), nor was it right to claim Lanier was anti-mass transit and had it killed for political reasons. I didn't expect them to go into the full story, which is far more complicated, but it was annoying taking the simple, heavy-handed route, especially for something that is fact focused.


As for other "lost and unbuilt" stories, urban sprawl came up several times, but blaming urban sprawl on many of the projects seems unnecessary, considering that most of the "unbuilt" projects had to do with the economy more than anything else. A particularly cringe-worthy line regarding one of the "people mover systems":




"...the city once again rejected a rational transportation system in favor of more cars, freeways, and urban sprawl."


Riiiight...because people mover systems totally are worth the cost and aid in the fight in congestion and urban sprawl. (Sorry, guys, this is the type of stuff that makes mass transit look pathetic)

Edited by IronTiger
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