The Land Known For Sugar

Haven’t put in a new post in quite a few weeks! Life has been keeping me rather busy, especially with new projects at work. I really wanted to do a getaway last weekend, and thus decided to go explore the city of Sugar Land. Located in Fort Bend County on the southwest side of the Houston metropolitan area, Sugar Land has a population of just under 89,000 and is named after the dominant industry in town – sugar.

The city limits of Sugar Land are only about a 10-15 minute drive from Chinatown, which is located within Houston city limits. Although I have landed at the Sugar Land Regional Airport in the past, I haven’t explored the city itself before, since I usually just go straight to Houston.

After lunch at one my favorite places in Texas – the Pine Forest Garden Vegetarian Restaurant, located in the Chinatown district, I drove down Interstate 69 to make my way into Sugar Land. The first point of interest I wanted to see was their city hall.

The city hall was one of the most modern government buildings I’ve seen to date. As I walked around the building, I noticed that the bricks and overall structure looked very new and well maintained. That makes sense when you consider the fact that the town was established less than 60 years ago! It is unique in that it is nestled right in the middle of the Sugar Land Town Square, which is a bustling residential/nightlife development.

One of the things the city did in light of this modern spirit was putting up several statues right outside the city hall, one of which gained notable fame. Known as the selfie statue, it depicts two girls holding a smartphone taking a selfie. When it was initially put up a few years ago, there was some backlash, as many people across the world denounced it as being overly unnecessary.  Although I saw quite a few photos of it, when I went to the location of the statue it was nowhere to be found. Not ready to give up yet, I asked the front desk of the hotel right across the street, and even called the police station, but they all said that it should be right in front of city hall. Oh well – I’ll call the city on Monday and see where those two girls got moved to (or if they got kicked out for being..too modern). I did see two other statues though, one of a guy playing guitar by the (shut off) water fountain, and the other of two horses, one of which appears to be drowning in the fountain. Still trying to figure out the story behind that one.

Strolling around the rest of the town square, I saw that the city hall fit in perfectly along with the many new office buildings and developments surrounding it, including a hotel, restaurants, and luxury apartments.

After I got done looking around there, I went to the roots of the city – Imperial Sugar’s old factory and refinery. I may have passed by there on my way to/from the Sugar Land Regional Airport in the past, but never really paid much attention to it even if I did. The history of this company is quite interesting. It was founded in 1843, and has always been headquartered in Texas. In fact, up until the late 1980s, the only manufacturing plant of Imperial Sugar was here in Sugar Land. Imperial made such a substantial contribution to the city’s economy and growth that their signature crown is part of the city logo.

IMG_2601
The original Imperial Sugar factory and refinery.

Although this complex is no longer being used for sugar production, it is still serving the community. Just behind those silos is the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center, a branch of the Children’s Museum of Houston. As it was Sunday, the place was closed. However when I walked around the exterior, everything looked like it was fairly well preserved. I can definitely see a redevelopment happening in this area sometime in the future, with the original building being renovated into lofts or a historical hotel of some type. As I was looking around, I noticed that the train tracks adjacent to the factory seemed to be quite busy. Not sure what railroad companies use it, however upon some googling I discovered that these tracks belong to the oldest railroad route in Texas!

Although there are quite a few other places to see in Sugar Land, that was all I had time for that day, as I was running on sort of a tight schedule. I am in the Houston area often, so I plan on seeing some of the other attractions in the near future, such as Constellation Field, home of the city’s baseball team – the Sugar Land Skeeters.

When I called the city hall Monday, they said that the selfie statue was in storage because of some renovations scheduled to take place in the plaza, and that there wasn’t an ETA as to when it would be put back. Well, at least it’s coming back so I know I will have another trip planned to Fort Bend County soon!

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