Retro Shopping Facade

Market Street – The Woodlands


Dana and I went up to The Woodlands the other day, mostly to walk around the outdoor shops and to chill and not so much to actually shop. On a couple of past occasions, we had been to the outdoor market section of the Woodlands Mall that features a pretty nice Barnes & Noble bookstore. We did walk by here, but decided that a trip to the other outdoor shopping area that we knew of was more what we wanted.

So we got back in the car and cruised over to Market Street. It’s an outdoor shopping / park / public area with sidewalks aplenty and streets going right through the center. We were already familiar with this style of shopping plaza from our time in Maryland at The Avenue at White Marsh.

Market Street is somewhat interesting in that it is modeled after old-timey downtown streets (like older East Coast towns) with stores and restaurants each with distinct architecture and separate entry doors, ample sidewalks to get from store to store, streets right through the middle of it all, and and limited street parking right in front of many stores. Architects and designers who drew up these new retro style shopping plazas obviously looked at some of the small downtowns of the past (and a few still around today) and captured what made them appealing. I, for one, am tired of the enclosed mega malls. And I’m also tired of the huge oceans of parking lots in front of a row of big boxes that all look identical – and we have way too many of these around Houston.

It’s too bad that this retro feel has to be created and designed. At first, being in Market Street reminds me of being in an area like The Strand in Galveston, but then I quickly notice that it’s all a facade – all the brick and cement is new, all of it was designed and built together from a master plan rather than evolving over time. It’s all fake, in a way.

I guess it’s much like Camden Yards in Baltimore, the baseball stadium the Orioles play in. Elements of ballparks in the past were brought into a modern, cutting edge design. I, as a fan, like those tips of the cap to the past. But, I also like the modern amenities they also included like the good seating position, wide aisles, decent restrooms, ample concessions. So, I guess I can’t have it both ways.

Appreciate the past and remember what was good about it. Build something new and appreciate it, too, especially if it pays tribute to the past.

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