Sep 24, 2020

Visit Houston's Hidden Secrets: Oddities in the Bayou City!

Jacob Tate 
The Rice Thresher 
September 8, 2020

"After I submitted my college applications as a senior in high school, an odd sensation overcame me. I felt glad and freed, of course, but I also felt a little pit in my stomach as I realized that the schoolwork I’d dedicated the last three and a half years of my life to no longer mattered. I grieved for what I had just lost. Starting this school year isolated in an off-campus apartment, I feel a similar void. My priorities are changing, my mind is reorienting. As R.O. Kwon explains in a phenomenal New York Times piece, the pandemic is a constant state of grieving, wishing for what could have, should have been. 

In my angsty high school grief in 2017, I explored the nooks and crannies of my city that embodied the state of limbo I felt in my soul. The eclectic spoke to me as I acted without regard for imaginary futures and instead felt grounded in the odd flux between a rich but ultimately irrelevant past and an electrifying present. As I find myself facing a similar sense of instability this semester, I return to the curiosities of Houston, Texas and share them with others currently bursting with wanderlust.

Heaven On Earth
1802 Travis Street

What once was the continental United States’ largest Holiday Innnow sits derelict and abandoned, towering over the southern edge of downtown. The formerly space-themed Days Inn got passed around between owners like a hot potato before finally settling into the hands of followers of the Beatles-aligned spiritual guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. They rechristened the building as “Heaven on Earth Inn,” planning to generate income and house members. Unfortunately for them, cults aren’t known for having great bookkeepers and they were promptly evicted. 

The hotel has remained mostly empty since then, eventually being completely gutted and left hollow, allowing you to see right through it. Graffiti lines the few walls that remain, changing with the seasons. Bold teens sometimes find various entrances — “doors” as they are colloquially called — and sneak inside to climb the thirty flights of stairs for a rooftop view of Houston.* Every two years, a new company buys the building and promises to renovate it. I’ll believe it when I see it." [...]

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