Discovery Green is a beautiful, vibrant 12-acre park in the heart of downtown Houston that opened to the public in April 2008. Several committed Houston philanthropists envisioned the park. They saw the space as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an urban park that would redefine the landscape of downtown. The location which became Discovery Green was transformed from an undeveloped, concrete eyesore into a beautiful and vibrant destination adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The current site where Discovery Green is located was initially a high-end residential neighborhood during the late 19th century. However, during the late 20th century, the location was turned into two large parking lots next to George R. Brown Convention Center. These parking lots have a small strip of green space named the Houston Center Gardens.
In 2002, the City of Houston decided to purchase a piece of the land. When the rest of the property went up for sale, a group of donors led by Maconda Brown O’Connor of the Brown and Nancy G. Kinder decided to come up to then-Mayor Bill White and pitched their idea of turning the dull parking space into a lively urban park. The Mayor found the design excellent and agreed to the plan. He also became a strong advocate of this public-private partnership. As the news about the project spread, several other foundations such as the Houston Endowment, Inc., and Wortham Foundation, decided to join the effort.
In 2004, the City of Houston decided to purchase the remaining land. After that, the City of Houston started to create the outline of the park’s operations and construction, which included the role of the new organization, which is the Discovery Green Conservancy. The Houston City Council was the one who approved the contracts that will provide support and funding to the park. Aside from that, the agreement also authorized the “public at large” to be involved in the park’s development and design.
The Discovery Green Conservancy was the one who worked with the community and the local media in creating a contest to name the park. About 6,200 people submitted their entries. The name “Discovery Green” was chosen because it fits the park’s personality, as it is intended to invite discovery, education, delight, and surprise to everyone.
In 2008, the park was opened to the public, and since then, it helped the city increase its convention activity. Several projects, such as residential towers, hotels, and restaurants, were opened near the proximity of Discovery Green.
What to See in Discovery Green
- McNair Foundation Jogging Trail – You can go for a walk or a jog on the tree-shaded promenades that takes you to the lake and the children’s area.
- The John P. McGovern Playground – If you want to take your kids to a safe and fun playground while you’re in Downtown Houston, you should head on down to Discovery Green and play their hearts out at the John P. McGovern Playground.
- Two dog runs – If you are a dog owner, then Discovery Green is the perfect place where you can enjoy quality time with them. They offer two unique areas, one for large dogs and another for smaller dogs, where you can let them run. You do not have to worry because they have seating areas to wait on while your dog plays.
- The Anheuser-Busch Stage – This is where you can watch several musical and theatrical performances while you sit on the grass and have some picnic.
- The Jones Lawn – This is a 2-acre grass lawn where you can lounge while enjoying the Downton Houston skyline’s views.
- The Brown Foundation Promenade – This is a shaded walkway that is lined with several 100-year-old live oak trees
- Wortham Foundation Gardens – This is a 1-acre land that is filled with flowering plants and trees. Besides that, you can also enjoy watching fountains and appreciating several works of art while you stroll.
- Kinder Lake – This is a 1-acre vast lake that is surrounded by several native wetland plants.
- The Natural Gardens – The Natural Gardens features wetland and upland gardens extending the park’s length.
- The Landforms – This part of the park is filled with several sculpted grassy knolls where you can sit and enjoy downtown Houston’s views.
- On some occasions, Discovery Green has an ice skating rink.