A short illustrated walk around Houston’s Eastwood neighborhood

Eastwood is a neighborhood in Houston just outside of downtown and home to yours truly. My home is 3 minutes from my office, has a skyline view (you can just see the former Enron tower) and there’s a joint a block-and-half away that sells the best Italian po’ boy I’ve ever had.

I was out the other day and realized I need to take my camera out with me a little more often. There’s always something that I stumble across that I find interesting.

When today turned a very comfortable mid-60 degrees, I grabbed the camera and popped out for a quick walk.

Just a few blocks away are the cross streets of Dallas and Eastwood, where the most striking landmark is a stone church with a gothic feel to it. I don’t know much about it other than what it says on the church web site. In addition to the churchy stuff that obviously goes on there, I have seen it used for community activities. There was a recent arts and crafts show there, for example.

The church was dedicated to Archbishop John Sloan in 1954, according to this engraving on the side of the church. I don’t know who he was and some basic digging on Google didn’t reveal much. I’ll need to go knock on the church door and ask at some point.

Now, just to show how diverse Houston is, on Stiles Street — a 10 minute walk from from the Episcopalians  — is a Spanish-language synagogue.

Who knew?

I didn’t until the other day when I bumped into it.

Anyhow, speaking of diversity, these two signs in my neighborhood are within two blocks of each other:

Forget census-form diversity. Brother, in my neighborhood we got real diversity.

A short walk past the synagogue you run into Harrisburg, one of the main roads that passes through Eastwood. And right there is a dollar store that has everything in the frigging planet in it. It’s pretty astonishing how much crap they can stuff in there. You name it, they got it. And it’s packed from floor to ceiling.

That’s not why I like it, though. I like it because in a world of corporate greed and powerful institutions taking advantage of the regular Joe with their slick-talkin’ ways, the owners of this store are downright honest. “Yea, we’re a dollar store. But what you buy might be less. Or more.” Refreshing.

The last stop of the day was  Eastwood Park — also on Harrisburg — where we just missed the mayor (or designated flunky, we’ll have to watch the news tonight) dedicating the just-opened “Boundless Playground.” (And careful, pal, that’s trademarked.)

According to the news release and the sign, the charitable foundation connected with drug store CVS is footing the bill for a big chunk of the building of these kinds of playgrounds, which are designed to accommodate “children of all abilities.”

Good to know. I don’t think I would have guessed CVS’ involvement otherwise.

Seriously, you couldn’t have fit another CVS logo in this park today it was so packed with CVS logos. I mean, you could undergo a CVS version of the Ludovico technique and not had more images of CVS pounded into your skull that you would have at Eastwood Park today.

Oh, what’s that? What’s that other little logo on the sign?

Oh, hey! I helped pay for the playground, too! Who knew?

Actually, I happy I helped pay for the thing, because I now have the right to complain about something tangentially related to it.

I’m all for playgrounds. And I’m all for having playgrounds for “children of all abilities.” (Although I think that’s code for “playground for Johnny with cerebral palsy” rather than “playground for Johnny who keeps getting picked last for kickball,” which would have helped me when I was a kid.)

My complaint centers on the swing set. Just look at it. What’s different about it?

Look at the ground under that swing set. It’s grass. And I felt it. It’s the most luscious, groomed, soft grass you’ve ever seen. River Oaks Country Club doesn’t have grass like this.

I understand the concept of this playground and its mission, and I’m for it. But is this a direction that all playgrounds will soon go? Will meadow-like grass under swing sets and monkey bars soon be standard or mandated on all playgrounds?

If so, we are doomed as a nation.

When I was a boy, our park swing sets were set atop dirt — if we were lucky. Sometimes it was gravel. Other times, black top. And it was a bonus if the swing set legs were actually secured in the ground. And by Jove, that’s what made our nation what it is today: generations of youth falling from a swing or jungle gym onto cement, like it was meant to be.

Sigh.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll try to venture out again soon.

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3 responses to “A short illustrated walk around Houston’s Eastwood neighborhood

  1. That luscious, groomed grass you felt of is synthetic. It’s a product called Playground Grass (yes, it’s also trademarked): http://www.playgroundgrass.com/. The blades are polyethylene, the same stuff that’s used to make those darn plastic shopping bags you get at places like CVS.

    As someone who had more than their fair share of scrapes and bruises on the playground, a safe-to-fall-on surface under the swingset sounds like real progress to me.

  2. I have gone through many posts that are about the safety surfaces underneath playground equipments. Some of them recommend wood chips, sand and recycled rubber mulch. But the grass here really freshes my eyes, it is really good appearance appeal if the swing sets are made in wood, isn’t it.

    http://www.lifespanswingsets.com.au

  3. Thank you for sharing! I’m going to be moving to that neighborhood next September (I’m originally from Bellingham, WA). Your pictures gave a wonderful glimpse of the diversity and flavor of the neighborhood. I hope you take your camera walking again soon 🙂

    Also, this probably is not terribly important… but the sign for the spanish “synogogue” actually says that it’s an israeli (or messianic) church.

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