Volume 2

Nine writers take on Houston in this collection. The topics range from the hip life in Montrose to ship channel refineries to smokey barbecue joints to an inside look at the Chinese and Vietnamese enclave on Bellaire.

This publication builds on Houston Unmapped, Issue 1. Eight University of Houston graduate students in architecture and one in creative writing met weekly for a semester to help each other focus their own lenses on this unreconcilable city. The episodes, journeys, and discoveries represent a conversation — the closest and next best thing to a total understanding of the urban fabric.

We leave you to draw your own conclusions…and write your own take.

Two Tales, One City: Houston Inside and Outside the Loop

Chudi Abajue

Two Tales one City address the two different environments Chudi encounters as he moves back and forth between work and home. The essay addresses the mindset of people of both worlds as revealed in their lifestyles and politics.

A World Apart: University of Houston Meet the Third Ward

Simone Ashby

This essay explores the dichotomy between the University of Houston and the neighborhood it adjoins, the Third Ward. The two seem to have nothing in common except for their location and that residents of each community dare not venture into the other. But once you step across that line it is like eating deep fried ice cream.

Great Expectations

Katie Honeycutt

When you only look at the naked facts and figures it is easy to miss the heart and soul of a city. Looking at the way it is experienced and lived in, even the most reluctant fan can find truly unique and enchanting characteristics.

Eight Years in the Making: A Wedding Checklist Through Houston

Nicole Hubbard

Aside from friends at school, the majority of the people I have met in Houston I met through the wedding industry. Exploring this industry has led me to places in this city I would otherwise have never visited.

Exodus From Chaos to Tranquility: The Demise of the Original Vietnamese Enclave in Southwest Houston

Mai Phan

Southwest Houston’s Vietnamese-Chinese Community is vibrant like the colors of the Dragon, and it is festive like fire. But, to live in the area is to risk perishing in the Dragon’s flames.

From Goats to Gaskets: Learning to Live

Aatique Shaikh

As reluctantly as a herd of goats making its home in a big city, I came to Houston. The transition from alienation to unexpected acceptance involved unexpected encounters and surprising juxtapositions of culture and personal experience.

Urban Smoke Ring: Barbecue and the Search for Authenticity

Kurt Vrbas

When my wife goes out of town, I go to barbecue joints. I don’t think she understands that I’m having an affair with smoked meat.

You are Here: A Journey on the Metro

Allyn West

Houston’s light rail whispers along Main and Fannin Streets, from the city’s fringes near the 610 Loop to its core downtown. So far, the city’s single light rail line has been about as successful as a single rail line can be. But it moves daily only a small percentage of Houstonians. What does this mean for those us who must wait our turn to ride? If we cannot use the rail, can we learn something from it about our city—and ourselves?

Moving into Houston

Yan Zhang

This essay documents one Chinese student’s first impressions of Houston.  It describes the changing expectations and lifestyles of new students from China and their pursuit of commodity and community.


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