The tunnel system under Downtown Houston provides shortcuts and relief for many. Did you know that there are more than six miles of tunnels and skywalks that connect more than a hundred blocks of downtown Houston? Today the tunnels connect to dozens of office towers, hotels, banks, corporate and government offices, restaurants, retail stores and the Theater District.
Entry to the tunnels is usually inside each of the buildings with signs guiding passengers to their point of destination. Along the way, there are retailers such as hair salons, spas, camera stores, eye doctors, clothing shops, health and fitness centers, cellular phone stores, photos and framing specialists, florists, gift shops, jewelers, copier stores and many sandwich shops and fast-food restaurants to satisfy every appetite. To locate specific types of services and companies by name, visit www.houstontunnels.com.
Here are additional facts from Discover Houston Tours (discoverhoustontours.com) about the Downtown Houston Tunnel System. Discover Houston tours offers guided tunnel walk and rail tours for individuals and groups on weekdays. Learn more by visiting the Web site.
Seventy-seven buildings are connected as part of the tunnel system.
The tunnel system was designed to provide shelter from the summer heat as well as rain showers throughout the year.
Wells Fargo Plaza building is the only one that offers direct access from the street to the tunnel, otherwise entry to the tunnels is only from inside the buildings via escalators or elevators.
Six blocks of the St. Joseph Medical Center are connected by skywalks at the southeast corner of downtown near the Pierce elevated.
Most of the tunnel is not owned by the city of Houston but by building owners who lease space in their buildings’ lower levels to retailers. Property owners are responsible for decorating their sections of the tunnel so it’s obvious when you’re leaving one building to another building.
The tunnel is open during business hours Monday through Friday, typically from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since the tunnel system is designed to support downtown businesses during the work week, it is not open on the weekend.
Property owners maintain security in their buildings and also have cameras that monitor pedestrian traffic.
The first tunnels were built in the 1930s and over the years, other buildings were added. The building boom during the 1970s and 1980s motivated private developers to expand the tunnel to most of its current form.