Nestled in Houston's Historic District, Market Square Park actually sits on the site of the original City Hall (and the three iterations that followed), providing a place for entertainment, dining, public art and—yes—green space. The goal? Create an increased sense of community for downtown's businesses and its growing number of residents. A large central lawn dominates the park, which is bordered by Congress, Travis, Preston and Milam streets. Capitalizing on its decades of success in Montrose, the uber-popular Greek eatery Niko Niko's has set up shop in the park with a walk-up kiosk for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nearby a large trellis provides shade next to a dual plaza/performance area beside Travis Street. For downtown's four-legged set, there's a crescent-shaped dog run complete with a little water action, all set against a uniquely lit fence. On the Milam Street side is a history walkway and a children's play area. The picturesque Lauren's Garden—named for Houston native Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, a passenger on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001—with seasonal flowering trees and babbling water fountain is the perfect spot for quiet reflection. A series of mosaic encrusted benches bookend the park. But perhaps the biggest highlight of Market Square is its effort to conserve and exhibit public art. Local and national artists Richard Turner, Paul Hester, James Surls, Malou Flato and Ketria Scott worked with the Houston Arts Alliance to update and move older pieces as well as install new pieces that meld with the overall aesthetic of the space. Art installations cover the entire park, but Surl's sculpture titled “Points of View” with its soaring black metal and yellow spires provide a modern contrast to the park's stately old oaks. The redesigned park debuted with a ribbon-cutting celebration in late August 2010 after eight months of construction. Market Square Park's revisioning is part of an ongoing effort to enhance Houston's Historic District. Restaurants and bars border the park, including classics like La Carafe and Warren's and newcomers OKRA Charity Saloon, Bad News Bar and Batanga.
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