Monday, October 24, 2005

Houston's focal point?

Marginal Revolution has an interesting discussion of focal points, the classic of which is, "You are meeting someone in New York on a given day, but don't know a time or place. Where would you go and when?" The surprisingly common answer is "under the clock at Grand Central Station at noon." Interesting variants include the country (Washington Monument in DC?) or the world (the entrance to the United Nations in New York?).

So, of course, this got me thinking about Houston. What's our focal point? And I think I'd like to propose two variants:
  1. Where would two locals most likely meet?
  2. Where would two people from out-of-town most likely meet?
Assuming noon is the most common meeting time, I'd guess the Transco/Williams water wall for number 1 and the NASA rocket park for number 2. For #2, arguments could also be made for the steps of city hall or its visitor center, or maybe the Astrodome. Although it's certainly lost its centrality the last few years, it's one of the few landmarks in Houston known by many outside of Houston. If I'm unfamiliar with a city, the city hall (or visitor's center, if there is one) seems like an obvious choice, even though it's a little boring.

The harder question is the first one, with two locals, who are very unlikely to think of city hall, the visitor's center, the Astrodome, or NASA. I kind of think of both the Galleria and Transco/Williams tower as beacons (in their own way), and the water wall as an obvious specific meeting point by both of those beacons. I don't think it's as obvious as the clock at Grand Central Station, but it's the best I could come up with. There are several points downtown that could make arguments, as well as the main entrance and reflecting pool at Hermann Park. I'm curious to hear other proposals in the comments.


At 10:59 PM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it could be at one of Houston's great restaurants. I know that among my circle of friends, if I told them that I was coming into town they would ask, "What time should we meet at Chuy's?"

At 11:23 PM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Total agreement on Chuys also within my social circle, but in that case noon is a very bad idea unless you enjoy half-hour waits for a table...

At 1:14 AM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can get to grand central station by subway from either airport, so that is why its the center of NY.

Even Atlanta you would meet at Five Points or Downtown or Buckhead, all accessible by MARTA.

Unfortunately, we do not have easy rail transit to meet up with people who are coming out of town from the airport until a new line comes out connecting the airports to the current light rail.

Once that happens, I would be likely to say Galleria (a rail line should run there), or the downtown area near Main Street Square.

At 11:17 AM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

700 Louisiana is a great one.

How about by the Miro sculpture outside Chase Tower? Tallest building in Houston.

At 1:38 PM, October 25, 2005, Blogger Adam said...

Any takers for Star Pizza, the Mecom Fountain/ Sam Houston Statue, or the Village?

At 3:00 PM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there are any obvious common answers like in some other cities. Perhaps someday it will be Main Street Square. Perhaps.

At 10:11 PM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There really aren't any. Which makes this city great. A multitude of hidden gems but nothing truly outstanding.

Williams Tower fountains are good. Butterfly museum has worked well for me.

At 1:10 AM, October 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the best things about Houston are too far apart and inaccessibly by mass transit.

One day Main Street Square might become a focal point if light rail goes out to the Galleria and airports, until then, there probably is no focal point.

At 1:31 PM, October 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First thought was the Galleria. Second thought, Chuy's.


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