Admin

SOHOPEDIA: Our Favorite Places to Meet


AMUSEMENT PARKS


ASTROWORLD, south of Loop 610 between Kirby and Fannin
Opened on June 1, 1968, part of Judge Roy Hofheinz' Astrodomain fettish. Idea was to being the Six Flags Over Texas theme in Arlington to Houston. Six Flags bought the park in 1975. Brutal heat often spoiled the fun, even with outdoor air conditioning. Still, an exclusive place to land a summer job for high school and college students. A pedestrian bridge spanned 610, linking the entrance to parking space on the Astrodome side of the freeway. The Astroneedle was dismantled in 2000. The park closed on Oct. 30, 2005, and was quickly demolished. The site is now a grassland, used for overflow Houston Rodeo parking. The bridge is all that remains.


astroworld 2


PLAYLAND PARK, 9200 South Main, Houston
Located opposite Gaido's restaurant, on the east side of South Main between Murworth and Westridge. Built in the mid-1940's and was the first amusement park in Texas. Serpentine roller coaster dominated the landscape along South Main. Adjoining race track was also a popular spot. Closed in the mid-1960's.  

playland 2


SEA-ARAMA MARINEWORLD, Seawall Blvd. at 91st Street

Opened in 1965. Closed Jan. 14, 1990. One of the first ocean theme parks in the nation. Featured a four-acre ski lake and a 200,000-gallon aquarium. Many kids and parents enjoyed the dolphins, sea-lions, killer whales, bird shows, ski shows, sharks,  big cats, snakes, fish aquariums, turtles, sea otters and pelicans. In 1988 it was the No.1 tourist attraction in Galveston, until the larger and more flashy Sea World Park opened in San Antonio.
se-arama


 

CLUBS

THE CATACOMBS, 3003 S. Post Oak, Houston
A transformative Houston music venue from the moment it opened in 1966. Many major names -- and soon-to-be major names -- played there. Lineup of bands forms a timeline of the movement away from Top 40 radio to album rock and FM. Many groups made the club an obligatory stop while in town to appear on The Larry Kane Show or bigger Houston venues. Bands appearing there included Jethro Tull, Canned Heat, the Outsiders, Shadows of Knight, Country Joe and the Fish, the Mothers of Invention and the Music Explosion. Garage bands from Houston and around the state -- including Neal Ford and the Fanatics, the 13th Floor Elevators and the Moving Sidewalks -- developed huge followings with the help of appearances at the Catacombs. Club started as an alcohol-free teen venue. Owners never sought a liquor license, but the environment changed with the changing Sixties. A second Catacombs opened on Kirby in 1969. Both were gone by the early 1970s.


cata

DOME SHADOWS, 9218 Buffalo Speedway, Houston
Hot spot for young adults in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Massive ballroom/dance floor with cheap beer and top flight local bands. Usually a long line outside the door waiting to get in. Part of a strip shopping center, the club used the entire parking lot at night. Parties often carried over into the parking lot. Opened on Dec. 18, 1963, but exploded in popularity with the arrival of psychedelic rock in the late Sixties. New dance floor installed in 1969. Club was leased to popular radio DJ Paul Berlin in 1970.
dome


GILLEY'S, 4500 Spencer Hwy., Pasadena
Giant honky tonk founded in 1971 by country singer Mickey Gilley in Pasadena, Texas. Central location in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. Club occupied a huge building with a corrugated steel roof that housed multiple bars and mechanical bulls. Connected to the club was a small rodeo arena that would also host both bicycle and motorcycle motocross races on Friday and Saturday nights. Ceased operations after a falling-out between Gilley and owner Sherwood Cryer. In 1990, a fire, attributed to arson, gutted the interior
.
gilleys


JIMMY MENUTIS CLUB, Telephone Rd. at Wayside, Houston
Where the famed "Telephone Road" scene started in the 1950s. Menutis was considered the Deep South's king of rock 'n' roll, a kind of Dixie Dick Clark and a connoisseur of the kind of black rhythm and blues that was hard to find, at the time, on Houston radio. In 1958, he converted the Wayside Theatre into a rollicking music venue where crowds could dance to live performances by such artists as Chuck Berry, the Platters, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke and Little Richard. Menutis closed the club in the mid-1960s.
menutis

LIBERTY HALL, 1610 Chenevert, Houston, 713-659-1082

Opened in 1971 in a former American Legion hall near the site of what is today the Toyota Center. Closed in 1978. Hosted many top recording artists and groups, including ZZ Top, the Ramones, Kinky Friedman, Jerry Jeff Walker and Lightning Hopkins.
liberty


LOVE STREET LIGHT CIRCUS, Allen's Landing, Main at Commerce
A popular, although short-lived, club in the late Sixties. Capacity of less than 200. Great psychedelic music with mostly local bands, such as the 13th Floor Elevators and Moving Sidewalks.


love


TAYLOR HALL TEEN CANTEEN, 2131 S. Richey, Pasadena
Opened July 25, 1959, as part of the Campbell Youth Center, with approved funding by San Jacinto State Bank. Facility was 10,000 square feet. One of Pasadena's favorite Sixties teen hot spots. Many well known local bands and recording artists appeared there.


taylor

MOVIE THEATERS

BROADWAY THEATRE, 1325 Broadway, Houston
Opened on May 25, 1947, as part of a trend toward more suburban theaters in Houston. First movie was Disney's "Sopng of the South." In the early days, an organist (Norma Ballard) greeted patrons with lobby music. The Broadway closed in 1972 after the property was condemned for a highway right-of-way project.


broad

THE CAPITAN, 1045 East Shaw, Pasadena
A 1,600-seat movie house built in the Corrigan Center. Opened on Nov. 19, 1949 with the movie "Impact" and a "Tom and Jerry" cartoon. Western stars Chill Wills and Monte Hale were also on hand. The theatre was originally owned by Phil Isley, who opened the Capitan's sister theatre, the Granada (on Jensen Drive) at the same time. Isley was also the father of film beauty Jennifer Jones. The week after the theatre opened, the Capitan began a six-day run of "Portrait of Jenny," starringhis daughter. The Capitan switched to an X-rated format in 1970, which raise the ire of local citizens. The theatre closed in 1976 and later reopened as a church. Later, it became a movie venue for Spanish-language films. The City of Pasadena bought the property in the late 1990s with hopes of obtaining private donations and federal grant funds to restore it. On June 20, 2000, a relighting ceremony was held for the theatre's exterior. Nearly 300 people attended. The interior remains in disrepair. The city continues to seek funds for its restoration.


capitan


THE DELMAN THEATRE4412 Main, Houston
One of the first suburban theatres. Opened on Nov. 28, 1934 with a Shirley Temple feature, "Baby Take a Bow." Hosted the Texas premier of "Spartacus" in 1960. Closed in 1978 and demolished in 2002.
delman

GULFGATE CINEMA I & II, Loop 610 at Gulfgate Mall, Houston

General Cinema set a new course for movie houses in Houston with multiple-screen theaters, starting with the opening of the Cinema theatres at Gulfgate, Meyerland and Northline in 1965. The Gulfgate Cinema was accessible to Gulgate shoppers via a footbridge across the 610 feeder link to the Gulf Freeway south.


gulfgate2
THE MAJESTIC, 904-908 Rusk, Houston

Considered Houston's finest movie palace. Opened in 1923 and closed in 1971, seated 3,000.


majestic

PARKVIEW THEATRE, 3901 Spencer, Pasadena

Built in 1966 to serve the population boomlet around Sam Rayburn High. Although a modern step forward for area movie houses -- it featured a spacious lobby, opera-style chairs and stereo sound -- the Parkview was doomed by bad timing. Multi-screen theaters became the rage around the same time and customers were soon flocking to movie complexes at local malls. A fun stop for kids and entire families, especially on Saturdays. Seated 868. Stayed in business for nearly 25 years before it was taken over by Hancock Fabrics. A portion of it is still in use as a Pre-K school.


parkview

THE SANTA ROSA, 5607 Telephone Rd., Houston
Opened Dec. 20, 1946 with the feature "Canyon Passage." Later became an X-rated video store. Folded in the late 1990s.

santa


SOUTH HOUSTON THEATRE, 13 Spencer Hwy., South Houston
Favorite neighborhood theatre for Trojan baby boomers. An easy bike ride for some and favorite Saturday drop-off spot for nearly everyone. Opening date unknown, although probably the early 1950's. Fondly remembered for showing Beatles flicks in the mid-1960's. Fell into disrepair and closed in the 1970's. Local bands would frequently appear as an after-movie treat. Building still stands (as shown in photos) and has been used by a series of small businesses.
soho

THE WINDSOR THEATRE, 5078 Richmond, Houston

Famous for wide-screen Cinerama movies. "2001: A Space Odyssey" premiered here nationwide on April 10, 1968.


windsor


 MOVIE THEATERS (Drive-Ins)

GULF-WAY DRIVE-IN THEATER, 9025 Wald Road, Houston
Opened in 1960 at a cost of $450,000. Grand opening on June 29 featured "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" and "Never So Few." Most popular of the SoHo drive-ins. Genoa residents could often watch the movies from their front yards. Later went to multiple screens, three in all. Demise came in the mid-Eighties, hastened by a reported tornado. Marquee, which was on Shaver, announced the farewell in spray paint, reading "Gone With the Wind." Site is now a subdivision.


gulfway

PASADENA DRIVE-IN THEATRE, 2221 South Shaver, Pasadena
Opened on Dec. 9, 1949 with the feature, "Father Was a Fullback." Closed down in the early 1980s. The site of the theatre is now bordered by Shaver on the west, Sam Street on the north, Robert Street on the east and Jack Street on the south.
pasa

RED BLUFF DRIVE-IN THEATRE, Hwy. 225 at Red Bluff, Pasadena
Opened Aug. 5, 1953 with two films: "Shane" and "Navy Bound." Went to an X-rated format in 1970. A major legal battle ensued with the City of Pasadena, leading to arrests and lawsuits. The city forced the operator to erect a high fence to prevent the shows from being seen from nearby streets and neighborhoods. The theatre was closed down in the 1990s and demolished.
red bluff

TELEPHONE ROAD DRIVE-IN THEATRE, 11020 Telephone Rd., Houston
Opened on June 29, 1967 with "The War Wagon" and one screen and "For a Few Dollars More" on the other. Two rock bands, Fever Tree and the Moving Sidewalks, also performed that night. It survived into the 1980s.

tele 2


WINKLER DRIVE-IN THEATRE, 205 Winkler, Houston
Opened in 1947 just to the north of an area that would be developed as Gulfgate Mall (Winkler and Woodridge) on what would be the Gulf Freeway. First movie: "Three Little Girls in Blue."
wink

RACE TRACKS

HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, Gulf Freeway in Dickinson

Built in the mid-1950s and considered one the nations premier drag strips during its time. Known to regulars at the “Freeway Dragstrip,” it was considered a powerhouse of the early Modified Production racing during the 1970s and 80s. It was said that if you could win at Houston International in the category, you could win anywhere. Many of the biggest hitters in the sport visited Houston International during its prime for match races, Winston World Championship Series races and other events, including “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Warren Johnson, Lee Shepard, Marvin Graham and Gary Beck.
don gay

PLAYLAND PARK TRACK, 9200 South Main, Houston
Part of the Playland Park amusement complex. A popular spot for midget racers and various jalopy events. A.J. Foyt is said to have gotten his start there. Tragedy struck in September of 1959 when a runaway racer plowed into the crowd, killing three. Among the dead was the co-owner of the park. His partners lost interest in maintaining the park and closed it in the mid-1960s, just as the nearby Astrodomain complex was blossoming.
track


 RECREATION

ELK'S LODGE, 302 Richey, Pasadena
Favorite soakdown spot in old Pasadena for members and their guests, mostly kids. Also a popular live music venue for teens. The lodge has since relocated and the pool filled in.
elks

GALVESTON

It was freedom. And it was free. With that in mind, it wasn't hard to overlook the downside: poor surf, often nasty beaches and killer sunburns. Once the South's most important Gulf port, Galveston bounced back from a devastating hurricane in 1900, built a muscular seawall and headed in new directions. Amusement parks and gambling hideaways dominated the boulevard in the early 20th Century, but soon gave way to muscle cars, blaring radios and the fiberglass flavoring of the Texas surf generation. Surfers roamed the island in a happy search for the imperfect wave with the Flagship Hotel and its daunting pier pilings serving as ground zero. Battered by Hurricane Ike in 2008, the Flagship was demolished three years later and replaced by an amusement pier.
gal

GATEWAY POOL, off South Main near the OST split

Huge, pendant-shaped water attraction and an almost mythical spot for those lucky enough to visit. A precursor to the modern water theme park. Later attractions (in the Sixties)  included the Aqua-Bobber and the mysterious Bubble. The Bobber was a crow's nest attached to a large round buoy chained to the bottom in about five feet of water. A thrill-seeker would climb a ladder to the top -- and rock back and forth until hitting the water and "bobbing" back up. The Bubble was a plexiglass canopy chained to the bottom of the deep end between diving boards, some 18 feet down. A vent would blow air into the canopy, creating an air pocket roomy enough for four people. Unless you were old enough and skilled enough to dive down that far, there was no visible proof it existed, except for the older kids who would dive down and not resurface for several minutes -- or longer. The story goes that the Bubble was removed after a drowning incident. Located in a skate/swim complex just to the west of where South Main and Old Spanish Trail intersect. Now filled in and grassed over.
gTE

SOUTH HOUSTON MUNICIPAL POOL, Ave. F and 7th, South Houston 

Popular neighborhood swimming hole, and a madhouse during the summer months. Built behind a baseball field in the late 1950s. Long home runs often landed among splashing kids. A perfect summer day included a couple of hours at the pool topped off by an ice cream cone at Tom's Treat on Spencer Hwy., just a two-block walk. Apparently abandoned around 1980 and now filled in.
sh pool


STRAWBERRY PARK, Pasadena
Opened in 1962 to serve the new population boom in south Pasadena. Bordered by Spencer Hwy., Lafferty and Strawberry. Huge public pool attracted kids from all over the area. Pavilion, tennis courts and ball fields brought a Hermann Park-type flavor to Pasadena.​
straw

SYLVAN BEACH PAVILION, 1 Sylvan Beach Drive, La Porte
Battered by innumerable hurricanes, the modern pavilion was built in 1954 to replace a venue where Benny Goodman and other big band greats once performance. The Pavilion's popularity soared again as rock 'n' roll prompted a new generation to get up and dance. The prom spot of choice for local high schools in the 1950s and most of the 1960s. The pavilion was closed again following Hurricane Ike in 2008, rebuilt and reopened again in 2013.
sylvan



SPORTS STADIUMS


THE ASTRODOME, Loop 610 South between Kirby and Fannin

Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World when opened in 1965. World's first indoor facility for baseball and football. Globally celebrated all-purposed venue for the rest of the 20th Century. Home to the Astros, Oilers and Cougars, among others. Astros moved out following the 1999 season for Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park). In a state of major disrepair, the stadium has been declared unfit for occupancy and awaits probable demolition.​


dome

BUFFALO (BUFF) STADIUM

Home to the Houston Buffs (Buffaloes), the town's minor-league baseball team from 1928 until 1961, when the franchise was disbanded to make way for the Houston Colt .45s (later Astros). Bounded by Leeland, St. Bernard (present-day Cullen Boulevard), Coyle and Milby Street in the East End, just across the freeway from the University of Houston. Demolished and replaced by Fingers Furniture, which became home to the Houston Baseball Museum. Home plate from the old stadium was retained, in its original spot, inside the museum. The railroad tracks leading to Union Station, site of the Houston Astros' current ballpark, ran behind the center field wall.​


buff

COLT STADIUM, Kirby Drive near Old Spanish Trail

The home of the National League Houston Colt .45s from their inception in 1962 until the opening of the Astrodome (built right next door) in 1965. Colts swept the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series to start their inaugural season. Stadium seated only 32,000 and was intended to be temporary. Remembered not so fondly for heat and mosquitoes. Dismantled in 1965 and moved to Gomez Palacio in Mexico where remains the home to a Mexican League baseball team.


colt

THE OLD PASADENA ISD STADIUM, corner of Southmore and Tatar

Wood bleacher facility used prior to the opening of Memorial Stadium (on Burke) in 1966. The first seven SoHo graduations were held here.


old


 

 
















don gay


PLAYLAND PARK TRACK, 9200 South Main, Houston
Part of the Playland Park amusement complex. A popular spot for midget racers and various jalopy events. A.J. Foyt is said to have gotten his start there. Tragedy struck in September of 1959 when a runaway racer plowed into the crowd, killing three. Among the dead was the co-owner of the park. His partners lost interest in maintaining the park and closed it in the mid-1960s, just as the nearby Astrodomain complex was blossoming.
track