Houston has landmarks? For a few minutes.





In Houston, money has always mattered more than history. So it came as a surprise last summer that the city showed a sudden interest in its past, and in the special places that show its imprint.

Too many of them are already gone. The Shamrock Hotel made mythic by Giant? Leveled to make way for a parking lot. The Fourth Ward that gave us Lightnin' Hopkins and Arnett Cobb? Buried under Midtown, with "historic district" signs denoting nothing much but irony. The 1930s Jeff Davis hospital? The Gulf Publishing building? Countless Victorian houses, entire blocks of bungalows? Gone, gone, gone.

But last summer Houston roused itself.

That's when the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance declared three buildings endangered...

Now the first domino is about to fall.

Never mind that Houstonians erupted when they heard the news. Never mind that City Hall strengthened Houston's preservation ordinance, once the weakest in the nation, so that now it's ... well, probably still the weakest in the nation, but stronger than it used to be...



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