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The Astrodome at 50: Origins

Worlds First Air Conditioned Domed Stadium Ground Breaking=

The Astrodome is a relic of an optimistic moment. It was built with shameless audacity and meticulous attention to detail, on 200 empty acres in the middle of Houston. The Astrodome was more than the largest air-conditioned building, the first indoor stadium. It took baseball out of its leafy quirky parks and created the modern sports stadium experience, for better or worse.

In the early 1960s Houston was a city on the rise, entering the Space Age with a businessman's hustle and surging technological know-how. It was just tentatively moving beyond segregation. Houston was notable for its excesses, and the Astrodome embodies both those of its city and also the particular style and fascinations of one man, Judge Roy Hofheinz.

Judge Hofheinz was a self-styled showman and huckster. He is the one responsible for the personality of the Astrodome, the fearless extravagance and the fun of it, which made it so much more than a sports stadium. When the 1960s ended, the Astrodome stayed behind, like a mountain thrown up by a glacier's passing. It remained, ambitious and imperfect, to serve as the backdrop for decades of significant civic and personal moments in the lives of the people of Houston. This is an exhibit about its story, and theirs.


Liza M. Talbot and Danielle Cunniff Plumer