Since CultureMap launched in late 2009, we've published more than 21,000 stories on a wide variety of subjects. Some topics we thought would be hits with readers weren't, while others skyrocketed. Here are the 10 most popular stories in our last five years, as measured by Google analytics.
1. The new AstroWorld sets an opening date: Houston's next theme park to blast off in 2015 (published November 7, 2013)
CultureMap readers love theme parks and gobbled up details about the hotly-anticipated Grand Texas Theme Park, capturing the imaginations of those longing for a worthy successor to the long-shuttered Six Flags AstroWorld. The story was shared nearly 45,000 times on Facebook.
2. Michelle Obama dazzles in New York, wearing diamond bangles by H-Town's Katie Decker (published September 21, 2011)
Shelby Hodge's story about the fancy diamond cuffs made by the 23-year-old jewelry designer Katie Decker took off after it was posted on the Drudge Report and conservatives howled that the first lady wore such expensive jewelry. (Fox News omitted the line in our story that the jewels were loaned to the first lady for the evening in its report.) Response was so intense that it nearly crashed the CultureMap site.
3. After move to $10.5 million River Oaks mansion, Joel Osteen offers Tanglewood land for $1.1 million (published July 9, 2010)
The Houston minister's 17,000-square-foot stone mansion, with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators and five wood-burning fireplaces, a one-bedroom guest house and pool, continues to draw heated comments from supporters and critics of Osteen's lavish lifestyle.
4. Sorry, Johnny Manziel is not humiliated: Smug, taunt-happy Alabama hasn't "solved" Texas A&M wonder (published September, 4, 2013)
After Texas A&M nearly knocked off No. 1 Alabama in one of the season's first games in 2013, Chris Baldwin's column about how "the Most Interesting Man In College Football once again refused to play by anyone else's script" was a must-read for sports fans.
News that investors, headed up by developer Monty Galland, officially closed on 600 acres in New Caney for a new theme park thrilled CultureMap readers.
6. Jeremy Lin unfairly crucified as McHale throws him under bus, while Beverley given free pass for turnover (published April 28, 2014)
Chris Baldwin stirred the pot again with a defense of Rockets guard Jeremy Lin in a tough playoff loss against Portland that had the star's fans and detractors rushing to the comments section.
7. The 10 best Bruce Springsteen songs of all time: Bowing out as an HBO documentary beckons (published August 8, 2010)
The Boss's fans love to debate his best songs; contributor Jim Beviglia picked three from one Springsteen album in his final 10, which provoked endless discussion.
8. The 10 Best Crawfish Restaurants in Houston: Honor thy mudbugs by eating them right (published March 4, 2014)
If there were every any doubt that Houstonians love mudbugs, it was dispelled by the popularity of food writer Eric Sandler's column picking the best crawfish restaurants in Houston.
9. Look out! The Real Housewives of Houston are coming! Producers quietly casting now (published May 25, 2010)
With producers scouring Houston for a potential Real Housewives edition set in the Bayou City, we came up with a list of local stars and their odds of being selected. Alas, the Houston setting never materialized, but the list remains a fun read.
10. Houston hip-hop DJ lands in the middle of LeBron James girlfriend love triangle rumors hip-hop (published June 12, 2011)
Houston DJ Qui West was labeled the "Woodward & Bernstein of Baby Mama Drama" after Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis called him on air to talk about the LeBron James' baby mama rumors and their effect on the NBA Finals. The interview demonstrated changes in the media world "where a hip-hop radio station is much more likely to have unfiltered access to the athletes than an old staid, traditional newspaper," Chris Baldwin wrote.
CultureMap is celebrating its fifth birthday with a big party on Oct. 10 from 7 - 10 p.m. at the new JW Marriott Houston Downtown, with a portion of proceeds going to Casa de Esperanza. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.