What's going on?
Well, we've been through this before. With a city that is growing and changing as fast as Houston, it's no surprise that we're losing some longtime business residents.
Here is my list of places I was sad to see close down in Houston throughout my lifetime.
Circus Restaurant didn't pretend to be anything else than what it was, a circus themed restaurant. It was open from the late 70s to the mid 80s and located on Westheimer near Fountain View if memory serves me. I couldn't tell you what the food was like because as a kid, all I cared about was the circus atmosphere. Trust me, as a six year old, it was fun.
Like most Houstonians, I miss Astroworld and was sad to see it close. Heck, one local guy even made a movie about it closing. I had so many memories there and always figured that I would send my kids there one day. Sure the park had its troubles at the end, but it could have always come back.
Another place I remember going to as a kid was Peppermint Park on 59 right outside of the Beltway. This was a candy striped red and white tin looking building that contained kid's rides on the inside. An entry on Wikipedia says the park was open from the 1960s through the early 90s. I doubt there is much documentation on this place available at this point so I am going with that.
I have to tip my hat to Nathan's Physical Whimiscal at Sharpstown Mall and Fame City on Beechnut from the mid 80s to the 90s. Does anyone remember that kid park that was located at 59 and the West Loop during the 80s? It eventually became a short lived concert venue too.
Sure, I like Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center as much as the next Houstonian, but I was sad to attend my last Astros game at the Astrodome and my last Rockets game at The Summit/Compaq Center. There really was nothing like the Astrodome. Heck, it took two places to replace it! The sheer size and loud colors were enough to excite any youngster. And remember the scoreboard? How could you forget it? It was so ahead of its time they still reference it at Minute Maid. In 2005 when the Katrina refugees temporarily moved into the Eighth Wonder of the World, I went to cover the event and the place still looked like it did at the last baseball game. Time seemed to have stood still in there. Now they say it is too dangerous to go into.
I grew up close to Westwood Mall, so I spent a lot of time there. The mall on Bissonnet went through a lot of changes over the years and eventually had an indoor carousel. My friends and I used the mall as a back drop for many of our homemade movies. Thanks to security for not kicking us out. The mall closed down in the late 90s and became a technology center. The only store that remains is Sears.
Not too far away was Westbury Square. It was an upscale, outdoor mall built in the 1960s that had a European town appeal. It was similar to the new outdoor malls you might find in The Woodlands or Sugar Land except now there is a Home Depot located over most of it. There has been talk of a revival for the small part left standing but we'll have to wait and see if that ever becomes reality.
This time of year people from all over Houston used to make the pilgrimage to Gessner and the Southwest Freeway to shop at the Original Christmas Store. Based on the name, you might figure out that it was only open in the latter part of the year. It was in a huge space that now holds a dollar store and was totally decked out with Christmas decorations.
Even though my family took the other newspaper, I was sad to hear the Houston Post was shutting down in 1995. My grandmother had always subscribed to the Post which was the morning newspaper for a long time. If you were ever a teenager in this town, then you were also sad to see the Public News shut down too. That was an alternative free paper that told you where all of the bands were playing in town. This was pre-Internet times after all. Many Houstonians also gasped when 95.7 KIKK (see original TV report above) and Rock 101 KLOL (see original TV report above) flipped formats. Both stations were the sounds of many folk's adolescent years.
Sure these were some of my favorite things about Houston that are no longer with us, but I'm sure you have your favorites too. Let everyone know about them in the comments section below!
Check out the video in the player above. I am locating the original Eyewitness News stories about these places closing.