When I think of Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia - the images that immediately flash to mind are splashing waves, aged bricks, stately architecture. There's something about the way a skyline nestles into the landscape around it that gives a city an immediate, inherent sense of character unique to that city and that city alone.
Houston is a much newer city than those mentioned above, and I think that newness is a tangible part of the city's character. Houston's a concrete jungle. As a whole, the city seems to do things with a modern, professional, and purposeful execution, rather than with the quirky flair for style that you might find on the West Coast.
But what makes Houston truly beautiful to me has always been about what's contained within those concrete walls. What it lacks in historic architecture, mountains, and cool weather, it makes up for through a rich vibrancy of people, opportunity, and pure hustle that no other city I've been to has matched. An adventure is never far away.
Some friends and I recently took a few hours to explore Houston's Louisiana St. area, including the underground tunnel system. We were met with lots of places to stop for a quick bite to eat (where we ended up stopping for tapioca), lofty ceilings, and towering architecture.
One of the biggest highlights was an unexpected drop into Houston's first and oldest Methodist church, First United Methodist Church, where security obligingly showed us rooms behind locked doors. We quietly sat in the back row of pews and listened to an organist's ethereal hum echo off the cathedral walls as he practiced, our presence unknown, and then quietly slipped out.
Like I said -- Houston is about what's between those concrete walls. So next time you're exploring Houston, take those stairs down that lead to the tunnels; open that giant, old wooden door to see what's inside. I promise you won't be disappointed.