City Cast

Houston's Downtown Tunnel System

Brooke Lewis
Posted on September 12
Houstonians walk through downtown’s tunnel system.

Houstonians walk through downtown’s tunnel system. (Cory Seeman / Flickr)

In downtown Houston, some may not realize there’s an intricate underground tunnel system connecting office buildings and restaurants. The tunnel, which is about 20 feet below ground level and stretches six miles, was first constructed in the 1930s. The tunnels offer a cooler way for Houstonians to explore downtown without having to walk in the heat.

When it was first built, it was used to connect two buildings owned by former governor Ross Sterling. The tunnels would go on to connect two movie theaters owned by Will Horwitz, who dubbed it,  “The Uptown Theater Project.” Besides movie theaters, attendees could enjoy restaurants, shops, a penny arcade, and a German wine tavern. 

After Horwitz passed away, his Texan Theater was demolished and the tunnels were abandoned for many years until the 1970s. Real estate developer Gerald Hines revived the area and the tunnel system, adding 27 buildings to downtown Houston.

Three delicious tacos individually served on a paper plate.

Don’t call them tunnel tacos. Tacos A Go Go is one of the many restaurants through which the tunnel runs. (@tacosagogo / Instagram)

Today, the tunnels remain an iconic fixture of the city and remain open Monday thru Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. You’ll find a variety of great dining options including 5411 Empanadas, Adair Downtown, Tacos A Go Go, and more. If you’re a foodie and want to go all in, check out this Astroville Food Tour that takes you through the dining spots in the tunnel system.

Here’s a map that shows you all the buildings and shops throughout the tunnel.

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