I was in college when this issue of Time came out and it caused quite a stir. Leaving aside the fact that many high school and college boys (raises hand) thought that Molly Ringwald was hot, look at the top right corner. They billed the article as a tale of two states, but what it really was was a comparison of Boston and Houston. At the time Boston was peaking thanks to the rising stock markets and Houston was in the absolute pits of hell. It wasn't a local recession. Houston was experiencing a localized economic depression, which has traumatized many of us to this day.
Time got a lot of it wrong. They wrote about downtown streets being deserted during business hours, neglecting to mention the fact that downtown workers travel beneath the streets via the Tunnel System. They also said the the largest employers were Houston hospitals, failing to mention that the Texas Medical Center has always been the largest employer. It's a city for sick people.
But the gist of the article was accurate. Houston was completely hosed, and Boston was boomtown. Then came the 1987 stock market crash and the end of the last real estate bubble. Boston tanked, Houston slowly crawled back. By 1993 the Houston economic depression was over.
15 years later I am seeing a new oil mania unwind and I don't like what I see. Spec commercial buildings are still being thrown up along I-10. A new 30-story building in Memorial City has a "please lease space here, pretty please?" banner hanging from its sides. I am glad that residential housing starts have dropped dramatically, but the strip shopping centers are still being built. Hello? Doesn't anyone remember?
Except for some locations inside 610, Houston didn't participate in the real estate appreciation mania, and high oil prices have shielded us from what has gone on the rest of the country. That shield has fallen and Houston is about to get wacked in a big way. Bill White is hoping to keep the leaks in the levee plugged until he gets his chance to run for the US Senate, but I don't think the flood can be kept in check for his candidacy that long. It will get very bad here.
Update: My memory is faulty. Here is the article from 1986. Hey, it was 22 years ago, give me a break. I think I am mixing up that Time article with other articles that appeared during the same period. Fellow Houstonians, remember that 9.2% unemployment rate? I do. I remember coming home from college one summer and working a fireworks stand with the parents for money to pay for a new roof on our house.