Experience the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
photo by Katya Horner/Slight Clutter Photography

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern Opening Friday, May 13!

The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park is a former drinking water reservoir built in 1926 for the City of Houston. After operating for decades, an irreparable leak was discovered and after a few years, the reservoir was decommissioned in 2007.

Thanks to support from The Brown Foundation, Inc., Buffalo Bayou Partnership is opening this underground, industrial relic to the public, with future plans to house temporary art installations in this unique public space.

Make plans now to visit this historically and architecturally significant site, and while you are there, share your photos by tagging them with #BBPCistern!

Hours & Location

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern at The Water Works
105 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007

Beginning May 13:
  • Thursdays & Fridays: 3 - 7 pm
  • Saturdays & Sundays: 10 am - 5 pm
  • Docent-led tours every 30 minutes.
  • $2 per person (no children under the age of 9 permitted) for a 30-minute docent-led tour.
  • Free on Thursdays but reservations still required.

Purchase Tickets

"A sacred space under a rare hill"

But largely, the place retains its astonishing, accidental power. The luckiest visitors will be there when the conditions are most magical: When the ceiling hatches are open, letting in those shafts of heavenly light; when the LED lights on the guardrails are as dim as their settings and the law will allow; and when the other visitors fall silent.

Your heart rate drops. Your breath slows.

Continue reading Lisa Gray's coverage of the Cistern at Houston Chronicle.

Donald Lipski's Down Periscope Unveiled

New York artist Donald Lipski’s much-anticipated installation Down Periscope, which sits atop the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, is now open to the public. Through Down Periscope, park visitors are able to peer into the 87,500-square-foot expanse of the Cistern and its 25-foot tall, slender concrete columns that stand row-upon-row.

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

Buffalo Bayou Partnership
is the non-profit organization
revitalizing and transforming Buffalo Bayou, Houston's most significant natural resource.

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
  • 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
  • Page architects was charged with designing improvements to the Cistern including an accessible walkway with guardrails, interior lighting, emergency exits and safety measures as well as the curving entry tunnel to transition visitors from the outside world.
Watch a 3-D fly through of the Cistern captured by SmartGeometrics.
Copyright © 2016 Buffalo Bayou Partnership, All rights reserved.