When the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, it was considered a modern marvel. The domed stadium was the first of its kind and a true engineering feat. Houston -- home to NASA and the oil industry -- had once again triumphed over nature, this time figuring out a way to eliminate the uncomfortable and unpredictable aspects of the outdoors.
No longer would Houston sporting events be subject to the brutality of Mother Nature, along with her harsh rains and blistering heat
The Astrodome inspired other structures in the subsequent decades, but eventually, domes went out of style. The Houston Oilers football team left town following the 1996 season. The Houston Astros departed for a new downtown stadium after 1999. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo found a new home after 2002.
The Astrodome, once the gem of the city, has been allowed to deteriorate ever since, save for a three-week stint in 2005 when it got a curtain call in the national spotlight as home to tens of thousands of displaced Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
Today, the Astrodome has no permanent tenant and it isn't used for events. Essentially, it serves no function other than to elicit the nostalgia of millions of area residents.
For years, local officials have been trying to figure out what to do with the county-owned stadium, yet they've reached to conclusion. In 2013, Harris County voters rejected a plan to issue $217 million in bonds to renovate the facility into "The New Dome Experience." Though county officials at the time suggested a "no" vote would result in demolition, they didn't make good on their threat.
Now, the facility continues to sit in limbo, as advocates hold out hope that some sort of "public-private partnership" can breathe new life into the Astrodome, somehow, one day in the future.
As the years go by, the Astrodome continues to show its age. There is little money spent on any sort of maintenance -- though it got a power wash last year -- and these days, the only major operating expense is the lighting bill.
This month, the Astrodome's operators opened up its doors to a group of urban planners who visited Houston for a national conference. The Urban Edge came along and photographed the decaying facility.