“Descending into the Cistern the first time was like discovering some ancient ruin,” said Larry Page, the principal architect of the redesign, per Houstonia.
We all need parks because they allow us to unwind, have fun, and lessen the stress of everyday life.
This brief respite is presented in a novel way in Buffalo Bayou Park, which contains a massive subterranean concrete cistern that once held 15 million gallons of Houston's drinking water.
One of Houston's first underground drinking water reservoirs, this 87,500 square foot (8,129 square meter) area was constructed in 1926. The eight-inch-thick concrete roof is supported by 221 concrete pillars that reach 25 feet in height and march in rows into the darkness.
It served as one of the city's first underground reservoirs, assisting the municipal water system's goals of fire suppression (water pressure) and drinking water storage.
After serving as a public works facility for decades, an irreparable leak was discovered in the structure's walls, and it was decommissioned in 2007.
The city was about to demolish it. However, while working on their multi-million dollar Buffalo Bayou Park project, Buffalo Bayou Partnership rediscovered the site in 2011. Recognizing the historical and architectural significance of the out-of-the-ordinary space, the organization collaborated with the City of Houston to take over management of the site, resulting in The Cistern we know today.
It is now open for a 30-minute tour with numerous photo opportunities.
The Visitor Center features an outdoor pavilion.
You would not have even imagined that there could be a vast chamber beneath Buffalo Bayou Park. The Cistern generates a 17-second echo from any clap or exclamation made inside the reverberant space.
The wheels that regulate the water flow through the cistern can be seen above ground. These historical artifacts are fantastic because they have surprisingly remained unchanged over the years.
This amazing artificial wonder is best appreciated on the quarter-mile walking tour.
Rotating temporary art installations scheduled by artists who personalize the space with light and sound pieces are also available throughout the year.
The Cistern is located next to the Water Works on Sabine Street, on the eastern edge of Buffalo Bayou Park.
105 Sabine Street
Houston, TX 77007
Have you ever toured the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern? Let us know in the comments.