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Each month leading up to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary celebration, content is created to honor the past, present and future of our community. During July, The Woodlands Town Center and Public/Private Partnerships will be highlighted.

By Lorrie Parise

Envision a seamless connection to relaxed strolls, invigorating runs, picturesque bike rides and free trolley rides. Encounter a diverse array of shopping and dining, premium office spaces and vibrant residential living with urban walkability. Enjoy convenient access to entertainment including the world-renowned outdoor amphitheater, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Experience outdoor art from one of the largest outdoor collections for a community its size. Among these treasures is Flowers, one of Texas’ largest murals, commissioned by Howard Hughes and created by internationally acclaimed artist, Alex Katz, nestled within a 2.3-acre green space. Appreciate Town Green Park and Waterway Square. Discover all this and more at The Woodlands Waterway – the acclaimed 1.8-mile water feature, linear park and transportation corridor.

The Woodlands Waterway transcends generations. The genesis of The Woodlands Waterway emerged from humble origins as a modest drainage system. The Waterway was a vision of George Mitchell and The Woodlands Development Company, now Howard Hughes. In 1972, Robert Heineman, former Vice President of Planning & Design at Howard Hughes, sketched a transportation corridor onto a “napkin” (which was really a notecard), that would become the heart of the future Town Center here. For 27 years, the blueprint for The Woodlands Waterway remained a concept on paper, undergoing numerous studies and planning, until construction commenced in 1999.

“The Woodlands Waterway represents a visionary, multigenerational endeavor that originated from a simple transportation corridor diagram to the award-winning regional attraction it is today,” said Jim Carman, President, Houston Region for Howard Hughes. “The Woodlands Waterway now serves as a linear park that connects residents, businesses, employees and visitors, enhancing our sense of community and providing inspiration for the entire region.”

The Woodlands Waterway stands as a testament to a successful multi-decade, public-private partnership between Howard Hughes, and public entities including the Federal Transit Administration, Texas Department of Transportation, HGAC, The Woodlands Road Utility District, Town Center Owner’s Association, Montgomery County, and The Woodlands Township. Numerous designers and entities were involved in the planning and development of The Woodlands Waterway including Ford Powell Carson, Cambridge 7, EDAW, Sasaki, Clark Condon, LJA, The Goodman Corporation, Brazos Transit, and the internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry.


  • 1972 –Sketch of The Woodlands Waterway within the future Town Center
  • 2002 – Grand Opening Celebration to Introduce The Waterway
  • 2009 – The Woodlands Waterway extension to  The Woodlands Mall opens.
  • 2017 – The Woodlands Waterway opens to Hughes Landing.
  • 2018 – Completion of the Final Extension of The Woodlands Waterway
  • 2023 – Howard Hughes donates The Woodlands Waterway to The Woodlands Township for current residents and future generations to enjoy.

“We were pleased to gift The Woodlands Waterway to The Woodlands Township for all to enjoy now and in the future, remaining committed to open space while promoting health and wellness to elevate the overall quality of life here,” stated Carman. “The Woodlands offers an unprecedented nearly 35% of green space through its 151 parks, 220 miles of trails, open space and forest preserves.”  

Next time you visit The Woodlands Waterway, appreciate the transformative journey. This vision has evolved into a world-class amenity, leaving a lasting ripple in time for all who experience its beauty.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School