SOHOPEDIA: Our Favorite Places to Meet


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.

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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.  

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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.



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.


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.

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

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.

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.

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.


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.



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.


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 ob