party at the park

Downtown Houston's historic urban park celebrates grand reopening

Downtown Houston's historic urban park celebrates grand reopening

market square park houston downtown
Downtown's historic Market Square Park is reopening.  Photo by Morris Malakoff

As Houston history buffs are well aware, downtown’s Market Square Park has been a thriving urban hub since the city’s founding by the Allen brothers in 1836. The site was originally dubbed Congress Square and renamed Market Square in 1839, and was also home to four different City Hall buildings over the years.

Now, the once-neglected center, which was reimagined in 2010, is celebrating a reopening and tenth anniversary on Friday, September 4. The public is invited to the event (301 Milam St.) from 11 am to 2 pm with free cupcakes from Frosted Betty Truck (while supplies last) and live music by Houston-native singer-songwriter, Madeline Edwards. Visitors can snap a selfie at the oversized cupcake installation. (Be sure to mask up and social distance.)

Market Square Park is known as a bustling, destination for live entertainment, public art, cultural programming and outdoor dining. The park has been host to hundreds of events such as Houston’s 175th Birthday celebration, kooky wrestling by Doomsday Wrestling, local and regional musicians, and the beloved Puppies for Breakfast, an annual dog-centric festival.

The park is widely recognized as inspiring the revitalization of Historic Market Square and the nearby Main Street corridor as a neighborhood for living, culture, food, drink, and nightlife. The area has now seen new adjacent residential properties Aris Market Square, Market Square Tower, and The Preston (which will be completed in 2022, according to a press release).

Those who flock to the park now may find it hard to imagine the park as a parking lot in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the Junior League of Houston helped transform it into a green space, and in the 1980s, arts nonprofit DiverseWorks coordinated a renovation of the park that incorporated works by local artists throughout the space.

Sitting in neglect and decline, the park was largely forgotten until the Downtown District, Downtown Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ #3, City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and community stakeholders redeveloped and reopened it in its current form in August 2010.