Underground Cistern opens to public in Buffalo Bayou Park on May 13

HOUSTON – Buffalo Bayou Park is about to open a treasure chest near downtown. It's a giant, underground water storage tank near Sabine Street and Memorial Drive. It was built 90 years ago and was used as a water reservoir for Houston until it started leaking and was decommissioned about 10 years ago.

"The capacity is 15 million gallons. It's 87,500 square feet, which is just under two acres or 1.5 football fields in size,” said Stephanie Kiouses, the visitor services coordinator for the park.

The cistern is giant. The architect called the reservoir a cistern because it reminded him of the ancient Roman cisterns in Turkey. The city considered its demolition.

Kiouses said, “I think that really is a testament to our park team who came out here looking for ways not only for Houstonians to recreate but also this beauty that we have that comes from the natural beauty along the bayou."

Workers cut through walls as thick as 18 inches and added an entry as well as a walkway around the sides.

There’s even a piece of art called “Down Periscope.” It allows viewers above the Cistern or around the world on the internet to look inside at its 221 support columns.

Geraldina Interiano Wise, of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, said, "As an urban archeological relic, the cistern was the underground drinking reservoir for the people of Houston. It is such an exciting and grand sight! Its inherent beauty in the rawness of the materials and in the sheer size of it."

The cistern opens Friday. Click here for more information on $2 tickets as well as reservations.