As a native Houstonian, I have a role to play. When old friends come back to visit, it’s my job to showcase their now-unfamiliar hometown to them. I always have to suggest the restaurant, find the cool show, mention the latest study about why we’re great, screen my DVR’d Houston episode of Parts Unknown.
I don’t mind these responsibilities, of course. I want my pals to love this city as much as I do, maybe enough to move back someday. And really, it’s no different from what I do at Houstonia every day, which makes it easy.
But recently my role as tour-guide-to-the-expats has gotten a special boost, thanks to a spectacular new attraction—the most spectacular, I should say, that I expect to witness in my lifetime. That is the arrival of the new Buffalo Bayou Park.
I still remember my first visit a little over a year ago. I knew it was happening, of course. I knew about all the right decisions the Buffalo Bayou Partnership had made—the native plants, the flood-proof lighting, the public art, the kayaks and pontoon boats, the interesting bridges. But what I didn’t understand was how exciting it would feel to wander the previously uninhabited area along the bayou just west of downtown, and see it suddenly infused with a glorious burst of life. Bustling, like no area of town has ever bustled.
“This is our Central Park!” I told my husband breathlessly, as thrilled as our very enthusiastic dogs, if not more so, to take it all in.
So when I recently hosted two high school friends—now NYC-dwelling moms—for a weekend away from their kids, brunch, of course, took place at The Dunlavy, whose large windows overlook a portion of the park. There, after refusing to be annoyed by the surprise one of them expressed at finding a kale salad in Houston—some stereotypes persist, no matter what you do—I led them on a walk through the city’s new showstopper. The thick humidity left behind by a recent rainfall did nothing to dampen their wonder at the new Houston.
I couldn’t show them everything, of course. There’s simply too much to experience. And there’s more on the way, as the Partnership’s massive project will eventually span the area east of downtown. Which is why we at Houstonia have put together this month’s cover story on everything about Buffalo Bayou Park that thrills us: what’s already here, and what, amazingly, is yet to come.