Tranquillity Park in Downtown Houston
This two block long city park located in downtown Houston is just one more indication of why Houston has the nickname of Space City. Tranquillity Park specifically commemorates the unforgettable moon landing back in 1969.
Most people are well aware of the part Houston plays in the aerospace industry.
I will never forget watching television with friends in Florida when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon followed by Buzz Aldrin. Armstrong’s first words when setting foot on the moon are written on a plaque within the park in 15 different languages.
Also inscribed onto that plaque is an image of a helmeted astronaut walking on the moon.
The following words are directly taken from the same plaque and written here for those who may never get to read them in person.
Two hundred years ago there was born on this continent a concept of freedom that mankind before had only dreamed of…a concept that would lead America safely through the turbulence of a great civil war dominating the decade of the sixties of our first century.
That this government has survived is a tribute to the soundness of man’s greatest excursion into previously unexplored areas of personal liberty.
It was this system of “government by and for the people” that brought together the capital, initiative, talent, determination and faith for realization of man’s oldest dream.
The moon has long been humanity’s treasure trove…so close it could only beckon…so far that it could only dare! It remained for 20th century America to accept that challenge and to close the distance.
From its surface, on July 20, 1969, came the message, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
The world watched, electrified by the success of history’s most noble experiment in individual freedom. America possessed the only system of government ever known with the capacity to succeed in fulfilling mankind’s quest for the secrets of the moon.
May we renew our faith in freedom and rededicate ourselves to the proposition that, “One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind,” is only a first step toward man’s eternal destiny: the heavens themselves!
LOUIE WELCH, July 4, 1976
Louie Welch was the Mayor of Houston at the time of the park dedication.
My husband and I visited Tranquillity Park one weekend in May almost a year ago. The falling water sounds mingled with the rustling of leaves on the trees. Some people were sitting on benches seemingly enjoying the ambiance while reading books. Some were bicycling through the park and others walking such as we were doing.
I can well imagine that nearby office workers during the week would enjoy going for a stroll or eating lunch in such a pretty spot.
Tranquillity Park is a location in which various festivals are held. This pretty site is undoubtedly also chosen for the taking of memorable photos such as engagement or wedding. It is situated near City Hall, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and a U.S. Federal Court building.
Charles Tapley was a well known architect as well as landscape architect in Houston. Tranquillity Park as well as renovations and improvements all along Buffalo Bayou near downtown Houston bears the imprint of his landscape plans. He was also a professor at two of our universities…Rice University and University of Houston. Charles Tapley will be long remembered by many people. Many of us will enjoy what he designed long into the future.
Mr. Tapley’s idea in designing this downtown park was to have features similar to those found on the moon. Thus there are varying heights supposed to remind us of hills and craters on the moon.
Those distinctive stainless steel cylinders with water cascading down the sides are supposed to remind us of the rocket boosters on the Apollo spacecraft. Named the Wortham Fountains they are one of several parks and/or water features in Houston bearing the name of those well known philanthropists.
There is also a replicated footprint of Neil Armstrong in this park. It is designed to make us think of his footprints in the dust of our silvery moon.
There is free street parking on weekends in downtown Houston. During the week there is some metered parking and plenty of available parking garages in the area.