Almost exactly 47 years ago, the Houston Chronicle ran a story with the headline ‘City of Tomorrow Planned Here.’
The piece details a scheduled redevelopment of downtown, describing it as “the boldest, biggest and most imaginative downtown redevelopment project ever attempted.”
Originally named “Houston Center,” the proposal showed the construction would cost $1.5 billion, including plans for moving sidewalks and conveyors the article named “people movers,” as well as electric vehicles.
Developers of the proposal said they intended the people movers to be the primary means of getting from one building in Houston Center to the next, similar to airport conveyor belts or the current system of underground tunnels in Houston’s downtown.
Other aspects of proposal described a more conventional city, including high rise hotels, office space and restaurants.
At the time, records show One Shell Plaza Building stood as the tallest building in Houston at 50-stories, now second to the Well Fargos Plaza’s 71 aboveground floors.
Despite developers’ ambitions, Houston Center never grew into the Jetsons-esque future city envisioned by its builders; the closest it ever came to people movers is a pedestrian bridge connecting the developed area to the Four Seasons Hotel nearby.
Of course, with all the recent development in the city, especially in downtown, who knows? Maybe we could see some version of that City of Tomorrow in our not-so-distant future.