Houston Matters

How Many Houston Skyscrapers Can You Name?

Houston Matters takes a tour of downtown to learn the stories behind the city’s skyline.

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Skyscrapers are a common feature in just about any large city around the world, and Houston is no exception. Looking toward downtown, you can see a variety of different buildings making up the skyline — all with their own distinct shapes.

Most of the city's tallest buildings were finished in the 1980s, so what did the city look like before then? What came before the 1,002-foot JPMorgan Chase Tower or the three-tiered Bank of America Center? How many of Houston's historic skyscrapers can you name?

Well, Houston Matters producer Joshua Zinn can now name at least six after going on an excursion downtown with architecture professor Stephen Fox, who lectures at both the University of Houston and Rice University.

In the audio above, you can learn about some of the groundbreaking skyscrapers erected in Houston from the start of the 20th century all the way to the 1970s.

  • The JPMorgan Chase Building, formerly the Gulf Building, designed by Alfred C. Finn, Kenneth Franzheim, and J.E.R. Carpenter and completed in 1929. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
    The JPMorgan Chase Building, formerly the Gulf Building, designed by Alfred C. Finn, Kenneth Franzheim, and J.E.R. Carpenter and completed in 1929. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
  • The Niels Esperson Building, designed by John Eberson and completed in 1927. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
    The Niels Esperson Building, designed by John Eberson and completed in 1927. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
  • One Shell Plaza, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and completed in 1971. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
    One Shell Plaza, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and completed in 1971. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
  • Pennzoil Place, designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee and completed in 1975. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
    Pennzoil Place, designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee and completed in 1975. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
  • The Scanlan Building, designed by D.H. Burnham & Company and completed in 1909. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
    The Scanlan Building, designed by D.H. Burnham & Company and completed in 1909. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
  • The Kinder Morgan Building, formerly the Tenneco Building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and completed in 1963. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)
    The Kinder Morgan Building, formerly the Tenneco Building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and completed in 1963. (Photo Credit: Joshua Zinn)

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Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on HPM Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews for Houston...

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