The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park and Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark in Houston, Texas

On May 4, 2017 I had FREE tickets (Thursday’s free day) to see The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park to see Rain:  Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern.  You do need to make advanced reservations online!  

No flash allowed but I sort of liked this one

I will preface what I am about to say by first telling you that upon completion of the tour, several people clapped! I guess I just may have been expecting a bit more.  So in all honesty, I personally wouldn’t recommend this, BUT like I said, many of the others on the tour (about 40-50 of us I’d guess) absolutely LOVED it…not that it was bad – just not for me.  Don’t get me wrong – it was nice, but I would have been bummed out had I paid for the tickets.  Again, if you look at the Yelp reviews…people loved it. Oh well, can’t love everything!!! So here it what is on the site….

“The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park is a former drinking water reservoir built in 1926 for the City of Houston. As one of the city’s early underground reservoirs, it supported the municipal water system’s goals of fire suppression (water pressure) and drinking water storage. After operating for decades, an irreparable leak was discovered and after a few years, the reservoir was decommissioned in 2007.

In 2010, the City of Houston was sourcing vendors to demolish the Cistern. At the same time, Buffalo Bayou Partnership was developing the $58 million Buffalo Bayou Park project and “discovered” the site. Recognizing the historical and architectural significance of the highly unusual space, Buffalo Bayou Partnership with the City of Houston worked to take over development and maintenance of the space.

BBP restored and repurposed the Cistern into a magnificent public space to house an ambitious program of changing art installations. Houston-based architecture and engineering firm Page was charged with designing a ground-level entry structure to help transition visitors from the outside in to the Cistern and making improvements to the shelf on the perimeter of the space to create a six-foot-wide accessible walkway with guardrails. In May 2016, Buffalo Bayou Partnership opened the Cistern to the public.

Fun Facts
  • 87,500 square feet or the size of 1.5 football fields
  • 221– 25-foot tall, slender concrete columns span the space
  • Holds 15 million gallons of water when functioning at capacity
  • 8-inch thick concrete roof and 8– 18-inch thick concrete side walls
  • 17-second echo
  • SWA Landscape Architect Kevin Shanley first called the reservoir “the Cistern” because it reminded him of the ancient Roman cisterns under Istanbul

Down Periscope

New York artist Donald Lipski’s much-anticipated installation Down Periscope sits atop the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern on The Brown Foundation Lawn. Through Down Periscope, park visitors are able to peer into the 87,500-square-foot expanse of the Cistern below.

Commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) in partnership with the City of Houston, the seven-foot Down Periscope is housed in a jasmine covered stainless steel arbor, creating a shady, welcoming space for experiencing the work of art.

Down Periscope can also be accessed online from anywhere in the world at Please note that Down Periscope will be offline during tours of Rain:  Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern.”



If anyone else has seen this, I’d be very curious as to YOUR thoughts!

Anyway, next door to the Cistern is the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark so let’s check that out…


This monochrome is for you – Marcus at Streets of Nuremberg!
I enjoyed watching but I’m just thinking what body part would I break first?!
The park just reopened-I was there during a weekday, so there weren’t many skateboarders out.


So if you do stop by the Cistern, be sure to chill and watch the skateboards for a few minutes

Thank you for visiting!! Let me know if there’s anything you want me to try to see next 🙂 

Elizabeth and Max

11 thoughts on “The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park and Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark in Houston, Texas”

Leave a Reply