Ed. Note: Reproduction of any of the images below for any purpose is illegal.
“The true astonishment of Houston, the allure that draws the migrants and fuels the imagination of the nations, is not what it is, still less what it looks like, but what it does.”
“It was [the Malaysians] especially, he reported, who seemed most to love Houston. They were singularly articulate about the limits of where they came from. The stifling rigidity. The paternalism. Yes, Houston is nuts. But it’s so much fun. There is such individualism. You have so much freedom.”
“The milieu to which I mainly belong—the intelligentsia or “art crowd”—is another hardy scene that nevertheless eludes the world’s image of Houston, maybe because intellectuals are less easily packaged into mythology than cowboy boots.”
“The one thing that impressed me about Houston when I came here 12 years ago was the basic friendliness. That ‘howdy’ attitude they had. That they still do…. What are you wanting, eventually? A pretty structure? Or a pretty society?”
“Houston, filled with graft and greed and ambition and crime and vice and poverty and Aladdin wealth and Old South aristocracy and Middle West materialism and New York capital.”
“Houston has never been conventionally pretty; but, hot, shady, and overgrown, it’s always been alluring to those who saw, or more likely sensed, opportunity in its overwhelming, almost overweening, fecundity.”
The flotsam rained down on east Texas and Louisiana, and one of the things that washed down from the sky was a mission patch from STS-107….It would certainly be useless in helping to determine the cause of Columbia’s destruction, but I could not look at this patch without feeling that stitched deep into the fabric was some sort of discernible clue to understanding the men and women who had dreamed of flying to the heavens, and who had died trying to come home to earth.”
“Our enemies have given us the chance to prove that there will be another USS Houston, and yet another USS Houston if that becomes necessary, and still another USS Houston as long as American ideals are in jeopardy.”
“The public believed that a woman had to have, over and above and beyond other aspirations, a home and family….I thought it unfortunate that the public perceived such a neat little box for us, and that in most cases we felt that the box was right. I thought: The question you have to decide, Barbara Jordan, is whether you’re going to fly in the face of what everybody expects out there because you’ve got your eye someplace else, or whether you can bring the public along to understand that there are some women for whom other expectations are possible.”
“One might say of Houston that one never gets there. It feels as if one is always on the way, always arriving, always looking for the place where everything comes together.”
We are indebted to several Houstonians for their contributions to this photo essay. Our cover image and many others were taken from the collection of Story Sloane, whose gallery (1570 S. Dairy Ashford, sloanegallery.com) has many unique photographs of Houston available for purchase. All of the quotations were taken from an essay collection, Literary Houston (TCU Press), edited by David Theis, to our mind the best book about this city in several years. Finally, we are grateful for the work of two Houston Public Library photo archivists, Joel Draut and Tim Ronk, whose help in selecting images from among the library’s vast collection was invaluable.