OurAstrodome.org is a project of Houston Arts and Media in keeping with our work to preserve the stories of Houston and Texas, and no story is bigger for Houston and Harris County than the Astrodome. When the Dome opened in 1965, it came in the middle of the brightest decade of the United States Manned Space Program, a series of breathlessly-watched events that inspired people around the globe. The Houston-based space program and the engineering marvel that is the Astrodome gave our city a permanent spot on the world stage for the very first time. The image that Houston put forth was one of innovation, strength and can-do energy. For the first time, outsiders thought of Texas as a place beyond giant cattle herds and oil-spattered roughnecks. To be sure, those important things are a vital part of our economic past and future, but it was the Space Age vision of the Astrodome that told the world that Houston and Texas was also a place for tomorrow. In the years after its opening, the Dome was the top tourist attraction in the state, and today the Alamo and the Astrodome remain the two most recognizable buildings the Lone Star holds.
Saving and repurposing the Astrodome is not about preserving the memories of aging Houstonians, though that, too, is vitally important because every person is a product of what has come before them. We must be able to tangibly touch our past in order to maintain our uniqueness and find guidance for our path ahead. Most importantly, however, repurposing the Dome is about breathing new life and usefulness into a potentially billion dollar asset that is paid for and owned by the citizens of Harris County. This is certainly not the type of asset that thinking people with even a sliver of imagination would discard. It is the same spirit of innovation and forward thinking that gave Houston the Manned Space Program and the Astrodome in the first place that must be applied to revitalize the city’s very icon, to bring people back inside and to once again gain from and enjoy the Eighth Wonder of the World.