Monday, March 7, 2016

Houston Skyline Appreciation from Eleanor Tinsley Park

Eleanor Tinsley Park is a wide open space on the banks of Buffalo Bayou that serves as an occasional flood-mitigation reservoir and as a recreation area all year round. The overlook adjoining the small parking lot accessible from the West-bound lane of Allen Parkway affords a grand view of the Houston Skyline, superior to others because the foreground is dominated by the greens of the grass and the trees on the lower bank of the bayou.

Special event at Eleanor Tinsley Park: Rodeo Run 2016 
The skyscrapers in the distance tower over the verdant riparian treeline, rather than over roofs of low-slung structures. There will likely be joggers, cyclists, and dogs and kids frolicking on the grass, or groups of young people playing volleyball on the sand field. The area is large and popular. It is also suitable for picnics, but there are no restrooms, which is shocking for an urban park that regularly draws so many visitors.

The natural palette of colors depends on the time of the day and the time of the year. Sunsets make for good illumination of the skyline because the sun sets on the upstream side of the bayou and the rays come in low and golden late in the afternoon. (The Rosemont foot bridge is another great spot from which to behold the skyline, albeit farther to the West, with commensurate diminution of the Downtown skyscrapers from that vantage point).

During the cold season, the grass is not always green and the hue of the sky obviously also varies. But the vista is always scenic except right after a major flooding event, which brings down loads of trash from the ditches and storm sewers upstream, some of which will be deposited on trees, shrubs, and bayou-side grassland, such as the Eleanor Tinsley basin, that comes under water only temporarily.
Rodeo Run Finish at Tinsley Park 
The park is named to honor a long-time City of Houston council member. A number of event also take place in Eleanor Tinsley Park, most famously the Free Press Summer Fest. Unlike events at Miller Outdoor Theater and Discovery Green, the music festival is not free, notwithstanding the appearance of that word in the name.

FPH (Free Press Houston) Poster at dripped nail shop
near its office on Lower Westheimer 
Free Press is an artsy newspaper with its headquarters on Lower Westheimer in Montrose. It is probably fair to say that the annual Free Press music event constitutes a much richer contribution to the cultural scene than the paper itself. Houston's leading alternative newspaper is the weekly Houston Press, which is distributed through numerous metal boxes on sidewalks (can't call them vending boxes, for the paper is free) and through racks at innumerable restaurants and other venues.

Buffalo Bayou Park has seen much construction activity
over the past few years (pic of project sign from March 2014)