A mere 15 years ago, the site of Discovery Green, on the east side of downtown Houston, consisted of two barren parking lots adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center, plus a small strip of greenery known as the Houston Center Gardens. Today, Discovery Green is one of the most innovative city parks in the United States, embracing a mission
to provide an uncommonly beautiful, urban green space in the heart of Houston that serves as a village green for our city, a source of health and happiness for our citizens, and a window into the incredible diversity of talents and traditions that enrich life in Houston.
Discovery Green fulfills that mission by offering continuous programming within its scenic, 12-acre setting, thereby attracting a diverse crowd of Houstonians, Gulf Coast residents, and out-of-town visitors. The park’s welcoming atmosphere encourages all who visit to engage their senses-by seeing, touching, hearing, tasting, and exploring.
Launched in the early 2000s through a public-private partnership, Discovery Green was created with the support of a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Brown Foundation, the Kinder Foundation, the Wortham Foundation, and Houston Endowment Inc., under the leadership of then-mayor Bill White. Since it opened, in April 2008, Discovery Green has enticed more than 1.2 million people annually to its lush environs. Most come to enjoy the park’s 600-plus free events, such as concerts, fitness classes, and movies; splash in its fountains in the summer; or skate on its frozen Kinder Lake in the winter.
Discovery Green, says Diane Summers, executive director of University Relations at University of Houston–Downtown, “. . . has a safe, community feeling, and is a comfortable setting for families, couples, schoolchildren, professionals, or anyone else who wants to find a relaxing green space without having to leave downtown.”
In addition, this urban jewel has become the city’s go-to venue for large cultural festivals, such as the Houston Korean Festival, and major events, such as the many Super Bowl activities it will host in 2017. A variety of other park events, such as Recycling Saturday, the FUNomenal Family Festival, and Signature Events, are held throughout the year, and these provide numerous volunteer opportunities. For information about volunteering, go tohttp://www.discoverygreen.com/volunteer.
One of the major forces in the transformation of downtown Houston’s east side over the past decade, Discovery Green has truly helped change people’s impression of our central city. Formerly seen as a place strictly for work, downtown is now viewed as a destination offering unbounded opportunities for play as well. For more information about Discovery Green, contact Barry Mandell, president and park director, at [email protected] or 713-800-4708.