Houston guidebook spotlights city's charms

By Clifford Pugh, published in The Houston Post, 1992

Houston isn't an easy city to understand. But Jerry Herring is out to change that.

The 46-year-old Houston graphic designer and publisher has produced a new guidebook that explains what the Bayou City is all about.

Modeled along the Access guides to world-famous cities such as New York and London, his Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Houston ($17.50, Herring Press) simplifies this sprawling Texas metropolis by examining its neighborhoods. 

"If you stayed inside the Loop, you could do a guidebook on that," Herring says. "But as you move further and further from the core of the city, you realize how large the city is and how it is structured by neighborhoods."

Herring's book divides the city into 22 areas., ranging from the downtown business district to far west Houston. Each area is illustrated with a detailed map, photographs and capsule information about important buildings and good restaurants or shopping.

Floor plans of the Astrodome, Wortham Center, the soon-to-open Space Center Houston and the new Children's Museum are also included in the guide.

Herring, who has published several dazzling coffee-table books on Houston, Galveston and the Transco Tower, decided to get into the guidebook business when the American Institute of Architects held its convention here two years ago.

He co-published an architectural guide for the convention that, surprisingly, also proved to be a big seller.

The new book, which is a more general purpose guide, is timed to capitalize on the influx of visitors for the upcoming Republican National Convention. But he also is targeting residents of outlying areas of the city who may not know the treasures Houston holds.

In overseeing the book, Herring was most impressed by the San Jacinto Monument and the important part the area played in Texas history.

If he were entertaining out-of-town visitors to Houston, he would take them to the San Jacinto Monument, to an ethnic restaurant along the Ship Channel or along Navigation, and to the Museum District to get a sense of life in Houston.

He would also show them Clear Lake. "It's a delight," he says. "it's a seashore. It's a sea town. It's a fun place to be."

Herring, who grew up in Iowa and moved to Houston in 1971, admits he's not a native Texan. "But converts become the best Texans, because we really enjoy being here," he says.