Houstonians know about traffic. It determines how early you need to wake up and how late you may be for that dinner in the Galleria area. It is also known to raise tempers and blood pressure.
Although our traffic problems seem very contemporary, effective transportation is a dilemma that has afflicted Houston since its founding. Just ask Jim Parsons, director of special projects for Preservation Houston, “In the old days, people worried about sinking into muddy streets, and now we're dealing with overcrowded freeways.”
This fall at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies Jim Parsons will present three lectures that describe the development of Houston’s transportation: “Getting There: How Transportation Shaped Houston’s Development” reveals that, “We are still trying to figure out the most effective way to connect different parts of the city together.”
Houston’s characteristic sprawl is, in part, caused by transportation. “Looking back through history, it seems like Houston has always spread out as far as transportation would allow, which I imagine is due in large part to easily available land and a lack of geographical barriers. If there's nothing in your way, why not keep building?... Sprawl isn't anything new in Houston, but the scale to which we sprawl has really increased.” Over the course of three lectures, Jim Parsons will discuss what formed Houston’s layout, the impact of railroad lines and then finally the impact of freeways and where transportation is going in the future. Parsons hopes that mass transit and neighborhoods structured on a walkable scale will play a role.
Join us this October to learn more about the factors that shaped Houston’s growth and see how your commute fits into the “incredible transportation network, built in many cases on really interesting history, that helps connect it all.” Something to consider the next time you’re stuck on 59.