Every Monday in “My Top 5,” we showcase an enterprising Houstonian who helps shape the culture and character of the city. In turn, each shares his or her five favorite things to do in Houston. This week we check in with James Glasssman, local preservationist, founder of Houstorian and creator of the popular and iconographic Wear Houston t-shirts (including the out-of-town, secret handshake t-shirt).
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by James Glassman
- The Texas Room at the Houston Public Library’s Houston Metropolitan Research Center – I love digging through all the old maps of Houston in their flat files. I’m happy (sort of) that they haven’t scanned them for online viewing because visiting the Julia Ideson Building itself is such a treat.
- Pontoon Boat tour led by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership – It shows a Houston that few get to see. Floating along Buffalo Bayou, the tour reveals the city’s industrial past and the recent improvements to Allen Parkway. The views are compelling and at dusk it’s surprisingly romantic.
- Drinking an Old Fashioned on the balcony of Bad News Bar – I can see old and new Houston in an amazing view down Main Street to UH Downtown, up Main Street to see modern skyscrapers, or east to see the lovingly-restored 1910 Courthouse. I also enjoy the sound of the light rail zipping by down below. Plus, it’s never crowded.
- Wandering around the Menil Collection – First, checking out whatever new show is up, then over to the permanent collection. Not only is this the best museum in town, it’s the best building in town.
- Niels Esperson Building rooftop tempietto – I love looking up at the Art Deco landmark from any angle or time of day, but it’s especially beautiful at night when the orange limestone and terra cotta façade are lit up. Preservation Houston once hosted a tour that included climbing the winding stairs and looking out from the iconic columns. I felt like I could reach out and touch the Pennzoil Building two blocks over.
About James Glassman
A fifth-generation Houstonian, James Glassman received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Kenyon College and Master of Architecture from the University of Houston, Gerald Hines College of Architecture. Professionally, Glassman focuses on historic preservation and adaptive reuse. In late 2006, he founded the group Houstorian, which is committed to telling the story of Houston, preserving its cultural and architectural history, and supporting the landmarks that make Houston fun and unique. He tweets “Today in Houston history” from @Houstorian and has designed a popular line of Houston-themed t-shirts and prints. You can follow Houstorian on Facebook and Twitter.