11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Year Listed: 2013
Location: Houston, Texas
Photo from National Trust for Historic Preservation
Within hours of the National Trust's announcement of 2013's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation unveiled its bold proposal to preserve and reuse the iconic Astrodome. The plan, dubbed the "New Dome Experience," proposes to save the Dome by creating multi-purpose special event space, making the Dome accessible to current and future generations of Houstonians and visitors. The proposal is visionary and embodies the same innovation, energy, and "can do" spirit that created the engineering marvel that is the Astrodome when it was built in 1964.
Although the "New Dome Experience" proposal is encouraging, the threat to the Astrodome is far from resolved. As a county-owned facility, the proposal must gain the approval of the governing body AND public support in the form of a successful referendum in a public election. It is this uphill climb that prompted the National Trust to declare the Astrodome as its newest National Treasure in the Houston Chronicle op-ed letter this week.
The National Trust will work with local leaders and elected officials to bring preservation expertise and resources to the Astrodome table in Houston with this newest National Treasure.
As the world's first domed, indoor, air-conditioned stadium, the 18-story multi-purpose Houston Astrodome was deemed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when it opened in 1965. It is a marvel of modern engineering, and was designed to embody Houston’s innovative, entrepreneurial and space-age development as a major U.S. city. The Astrodome was home to Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros and the National Football League's Houston Oilers for many years, and also played host to numerous other notable events, from the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973, to the Republican National Convention in 1992. Without a viable reuse plan, the Astrodome will likely succumb to calls for demolition.