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For more than a century and a half, Houstonians have fought steadily escalating battles against nature -- just to be able to live here. In the course of battle, we have learned from our mistakes, developing and appropriating successively more complex techniques with which to isolate ourselves not simply from the particular hazards of this soggy land, but from hazards that might exist in any environment.


Houston Wet is a documentary that attempts to link the history of this city to some of the immense transformations that have rearranged the American landscape over the last thirty years: the seeming homogenization of urban, suburban, and exurban areas in this country, the increasing isolation of people and buildings from their natural surroundings, the rise of generic approaches to specific problems. Houston, specifically, is how most American cities are growing today.


This website is a browsable mythology: a set of ideas, and a small collection of illustrated stories, about a place. The stories portray this city at its extremes: how Brownwood subdivision, a once-elite neighborhood just outside city limits, slowly sunk into the surrounding bay, was abandoned, and turned into a marsh preserve; and how engineers altered and repackaged the American flag so that it could be planted on the moon. A short series of exhibits intersects with the stories and allows you to trace your own paths between idea and narrative.

Larry Albert
July 22, 2000


Photos above, left to right: Flag at Rice Stadium, 1962. Courtesy Aubrey Calvin. Brownwood subdivision, 1994. Photo by Eric R. Shamp. Used with permission. Detail of farm machinery maintenance exhibit , Livestock Show, 1948. Courtesy Sterling Municipal Library, Baytown.


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