FIELD TRIP! Explore Houston history firsthand with your kids at these downtown destinations

Houston City Hall (Jill Jarvis)

This article first appeared on jillbjarvis.com. Click here to view the article in its original format.

In this Houston Field Trip series, find places to go and get the resources to study before your trip!

In this trip, learn about Houston History as you visit Allen’s Landing, Houston’s First City Hall, Houston’s First Library and Houston’s First Park.  Look below for a map of the walking route.


(I would usually provide links to books… but I’ve come up empty. If you have good Houston history books, tell us!)


Allen's Landing (Jill Jarvis)

1. Allen’s Landing – 1005 Commerce St, Houston, TX 77002

Allen’s Landing is where, in 1836, August C. and John K. Allen stepped ashore.  It was Houston’s first port and was a thriving commercial hub.

Right across the street is the Main & Co mural and the spot of Houston’s first farmer’s market.

You can access the Buffalo Bayou Trail from the park (and take it to Sam Houston Park)… or go through downtown.

Market Square Park (Jill Jarvis)

2. Market Square Park – 301 Milam Houston, Texas 77002

Market Square Park is in Downtown’s Historic District and is the original town center.

The land was donated to the City by Houston’s founder, the Allen brothers. Market Square “burned through” 3 City Hall buildings and finally became a parking lot… and then a park!

The Houston Is mural is right across the street.

Houston City Hall (Jill Jarvis)

3.  City Hall – 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002

While you are in downtown Houston, go see City Hall. Construction was started in 1938 and there was a lot of controversy over the style of the building. (Read all about it HERE.)

A fun fact is that a time capsule was placed in the cornerstone, containing a Bible, copies of the City charter, Houston’s three daily newspapers and the City Auditor’s report for 1937.

Julia Ideson Library (Jill Jarvis)

4.  Julia Ideson Library – 500 McKinney Street, Houston, Texas 77002

Right next to the big modern Central Library is the Spanish revival style Julia Ideson Library.  It opened in 1926 as the Houston Central Library and it was to be the centerpiece of a 5 building civic center.  Due to the Great Depression, this vision was not realized and the other buildings were built in the modern style of the 1930s.

The Julia Ideson building was the central library until it was replaced by the larger library next door in 1976. Now it is home of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and the most beautiful children’s reading room that includes the original furniture, and many of the original books, from 1926.

(Oh, and it’s rumored that this building is haunted by a friendly violin playing ghost.)

Sam Houston Park (Jill Jarvis)

5.  Sam Houston Park – 1000 Bagby St, Houston, Texas 77002

Located right behind City Hall and the libraries is Sam Houston Park… Houston’s oldest park. It is a huge piece of green space in the middle of skyscrapers.  It has many historic houses and buildings, a pond, ducks, a bridge, swings and lots of room to run.

Take the audio tour of the historic houses by following the signs, using your mobile phone.

Sam Houston Park (Jill Jarvis)

6.  Heritage Society – 1100 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002

Right across from the Sam Houston Park is the main Heritage Society building. Go inside for even more Houston history. (Admission is required and hours are limited.)

Park or Ride:

Find metered parking all around Downtown Houston (which is free on Sunday).

You can also take METRORail to the Main Street Square Station (for City Hall) or Preston Street (for Market Square Park and Allen’s Landing). This whole route is very walk-able, but if it’s boiling hot, you might want to drive between the buildings.


Find more Houston area field trips: