In the Eighties, downtown Houston was so deserted at night that, as someone who lived there at the time puts it, "You could lie down in the middle of the street and go to sleep." If you tried that stunt this evening, you'd be covered with tire marks from Lexuses and BMWs. About three years ago, Houston discovered its downtown, and it has become the site of the city's most fashionable night-life scene. All over the country, in fact, downtowns are on the rebound after decades of suburban flight, scarring freeway construction, mindless demolition and other forms of city killing. Local governments, atoning for past sins, have poured money into new sports stadiums and museums. Endangered landmark buildings have been saved and turned into nightclubs, loft apartments, hotels, galleries and restaurants. As a result, neighborhoods that used to be empty after dark are now the busiest spots in town. What follows are back-from-the-dead tales from three of the fastest-growing downtowns in America.
Downtown growth rate First in the United States.
The dark ages Long after the rest of America had discovered historic preservation, Houston could still look at a majestic turn-of-the-century building and see a vacant lot waiting to happen. Dynamite and wrecking balls were applied liberally to the three-story brownstones in and around the old Market Square district until the city was almost completely hollow at its core.