With its sloping hills and deep ravines, Eleanor Tinsley Park is one of Houston’s most popular outdoor spaces for recreation and gathering. Named in honor of the late City Councilmember and civic activist, Eleanor Tinsley, the park is home to the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration and other large-scale festivals and events. In 2014, the large, low open area extending toward downtown was transformed into the park’s signature lawn and named the Bud Light Amphitheater. Additionally, the park received upgraded landscaping, redesigned parking spaces, an improved garden area and a trail with a direct connection to Sabine Promenade. Other points of interest are: Nau Family Pavilion, volleyball court, Hines Meadow and Jane Gregory Garden.
Transformation of Buffalo Bayou Park is well underway. Scheduled for completion in mid-2015, keep up-to-date with construction news by visiting www.buffalobayoupark.org.
Texas artist Jesús Bautista Moroles’ Police Memorial commemorates more than 80 policeman whose lives were lost in the line of duty. Shaped like a pyramid, the sculpture symbolizes a royal tomb. The Police Memorial and surrounding grounds are guarded 24 hours a day. Each year, this is the site of an annual procession and wreath-laying ceremony.
The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is a 30,000-square-foot in-ground facility overlooking Buffalo Bayou. View skaters of all levels work on their kickflip, ollie, fakie big spin or simply learn to stay balanced! The park is free and open to the public. Helmets are required.
Houston landscape architect Charles Tapley designed this inspirational site in the late 1970s to feature a bayou tributary, riparian plantings, granite steps and seating areas. Recent improvements include a wetland, native Texas prairie and a footbridge. Besides being a place to picnic and to view the downtown skyline, Tapley and other nearby tributaries have become wonderful outdoor learning centers.
Every evening at sunset, more than 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from crevices found in the Waugh Drive Bridge. These creatures are non-migratory and call the bayou home year-round. You can learn more about the bats through interpretive signage found at the site. Stop by any night and view this amazing sight!
Perhaps one of Buffalo Bayou Park’s most active destinations will be the Johnny Steele Dog Park, a two acre site located near Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard/Studemont Street. Features include large and small dog ponds, shade structures, water play features, a dog washing station, benches and drinking fountains (complete with spigots for dogs).
Limited parking will be available along the frontage road of Allen Parkway.
**NOTE: The dog park will close temporarily in April 2015 to reseed and prepare the grass for the warmer summer months. Signage will be posted and reminders sent through social media.
Near Allen Parkway and Dunlavy Street, Lost Lake will feature lush wetland gardens surrounding a restored pond that is situated near a visitor center housing restrooms and paddle craft rentals.
This is also the location of The Dunlavy, the multi-purpose private event space under the development of Clark Cooper Concepts scheduled to open in Fall 2015. Clark Cooper Concepts will also provide park users Grab and Go counter service for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.
Approximately 81 new parking spaces will be available at Lost Lake.
Near The Water Works and the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, a nature play area will be one of the park’s most popular destinations. Designed to inspire a love of nature within children, features of the play area include: a boulder rock scramble, a rolling lawn, a stream and waterfall, climbing logs and stones, and 33-foot slide. The most compelling component will be a tri-level tree house/boat deck with climbing net.
Parents will have easy access to parking, restrooms, park staff and the option of renting the play area’s picnic pavilion for special events and birthday parties.
Thanks to the Ray C. Fish Foundation for its generous $1 million grant for this play area.
The Water Works at Sabine Street will be a new major destination and park entry point made possible by reclaiming a four-acre abandoned City of Houston water system site. Atop a partially buried water reservoir will be The Brown Foundation Lawn, a grassy plateau framed by trees. With the open-air Hobby Family Pavilion, this elevated site will be popular for performances and events. Visitors can also expect restrooms and a bike rental facility at The Wortham Insurance Visitor Center, food trucks in an entry court and parking.
With the reconstruction of the Sandy Reed Memorial Trail by the City of Houston and Texas Department of Transportation, bicycling along the bayou has become even more popular. To accommodate residents and visitors who want to enjoy a walk or jog, asphalt footpaths are located closer to the waterway.
- Always keep to the right on trails to avoid faster moving traffic.
- Do your best to anticipate the actions of other users and know the limits of your own abilities.
- Keep pets on a short leash.
- Announce “passing on left” when trying to get around someone in front of you.
- Look ahead and behind you before turning around on the trail.
- Pull over to the right or completely off the trail when stopping for any reason.
- ALWAYS wear a helmet.
- Watch speeds on bicycles and keep at least a three-foot distance from pedestrians at all times.
- Use of headphones/ear buds is discouraged, but if you do, consider removing the device from one side so you are aware of the sounds around you.
- Watch children carefully – don’t allow young children on trails without supervision.
- When in a group, stay in a single file line.
- Obey all traffic signals when crossing major intersections. Never cross at an area without a designated pedestrian traffic signal.
- Look both ways before crossing or merging with another trail.
Tolerance SculpturesJaume Plensa, 2011
At the base of the Rosemont Bridge on Allen Parkway and Montrose are Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s Tolerance sculptures. The seven human figures representing the world’s seven continents are composed of stainless steel alphabet letters from many world languages. Resting on large boulders, the figures glow at night, creating a constellation of beacons.
Gus S. Wortham Memorial FountainWilliam Cannady, 1978
Affectionately known as the “Dandelion,” the fountain’s brass starburst of pipes spray joggers, cyclists and dog walkers offering a cool respite from Houston’s heat. The fountain is also a favorite meeting spot for many park users.
It Wasn’t a Dream, It was a FloodJohn Runnels, 2014
Serving as a major entry point to the bayou at Crosby Outfall, this 20-foot stainless steel canoe sculpture by John Runnels is supported by two stainless steel trees. It resembles 10 other canoe sculptures located at various eastward bayou access points.
Spindle SculptureHenry Moore, 1979
Located on a prominent knoll in Eleanor Tinsley Park is British sculptor Henry Moore’s Spindle piece. The cast bronze abstract sculpture was originally part of the artist’s Spindle series placed in London’s Hyde Park.
Passage Inachevé—House SculptureLinnea Glatt and Francis Thompson, 1990
This 28’ x 28’ art piece is constructed of galvanized steel set in a concrete slab. It takes the form of a house but is completely open to the elements and viewing from all sides. The seating and visual images highlight issues of human rights, freedom of expression, and historic and contemporary concerns.
Open Channel FlowMatthew Geller, 2009
Open Channel Flow, a sculpture by New York-based artist Matthew Geller, features a public outdoor shower activated by a hand pump. The nearby Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark ensures that a steady flow of skaters and passersby will indulge in a refreshing spritz on Houston’s infamously humid afternoons.
Pedestrian bridges have been constructed throughout the park, providing improved safety and important connectivity to nearby neighborhoods and park amenities.
A project of Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Houston, this pedestrian connection was installed below the existing Shepherd Drive Bridge.
You can cross this unique pedestrian bridge at two levels. Be sure to pause and enjoy the dramatic view of the bayou and downtown skyline. The bridge provides a valuable pedestrian connection to trails and neighborhoods to the north at Studemont Street, as well as to Spotts and Cleveland Parks to the west.
Jackson Hill Bridge
Soaring a dramatic 40 feet above the bayou, this 345-foot-long pedestrian bridge near Jackson Hill Street connects with the existing bridge over Memorial Drive, providing access to Allen Parkway.
The Carruth Bridge allows park users to access the Houston Police Officers’ Memorial from other areas of the park.