The Human Tour
an anthropomorphic route through the city of Houston
1982/1987 - ongoing
"To become human, a city must have no proper intentions." - Jean-Marie Gustave le Clézio

The Human Tour is a a permanent project designed for Houston and is dedicated to a more human city.

The Human Tour was first conceived in 1982 as an exploration about scaled images using computers. The selected image was that of an outlined frontal view of a male figure. Experiments included reducing the image to fractions of its original size and enlarging it to gigantic proportions. These experiments were designed to investigate the limits of the computer’s abilities to plot very large and very small images. Although the computer was able to understand very large coordinated, it was obviously unable to plot such a huge picture because of the small plotter. Several of these “non-plots” were executed in 1982. Later, the original drawing of the figure was superimposed on a map of Houston. The contours of the figure were adapted to the streets of Houston so that if a drawing of this size were realized, the participant could actually experience the drawing by driving it. Thus an anthropomorphic “driving drawing”.

The Tour travels through a cross-section of communities in Houston’s inner city including such historic districts as the Fourth Ward and the Near North Side as well as burgeoning neighborhoods such as “Chinatown” and the East End. It became evident that the significance of the project was not merely a formal realization of a large drawing, but rather the opportunity for the participants to experience parts of Houston that may have otherwise been unfamiliar to them. The focus then shifted from the formal to the social aspects of the project, and in turn, the implications and responsibilities this brings with it. It is hoped and anticipated that this simple act of driving through different parts of the city will bring about greater awareness to the challenges facing Houstonians and initiate an educational process that will contribute to the humanization of Houston. This is the reason for and the goal of The Human Tour.

This map and the permanent road markers (places at the extremities of the figure: the head, the hands and the feet) are part of the first realization of The Human Tour. Further plans include painting the entire route in such a way as to be visible from the air. Also planned are events and projects that will address issues such as pollution, over-population, housing, transportation, communication, and education.

The Human Tour is dedicated to the most idealistic scenario, a utopian view that sees a solution to each of these problems. When this occurs, communication (from the Latin “a shared space”) will replace transportation. And on that day all of the streets of Houston will be closed except for those of The Human Tour which will be left as a testament that Houston has become the Human City.

Have a safe trip!

—Michael Galbreth, 1987

 

     [The above text is from the original Human Tour map, 1987 (see below)]

The Human Tour
maps with tour route and neighborhood histories
Updated Human Tour directions are kindly provided by Shay Hill. Updated and posted on July 1, 2018.
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The Human Tour 
PDF downloadable map
front: project description,
neighborhood histories
The Human Tour 
PDF downloadable map
back: tour map and route

    The Human Tour, original map, 1987

The Human Tour original tour map text is kindly provided by Shay Hill. Posted on July 1, 2018.
The Human Tour
initial installation and debut, 1987

The Human Tour - interview on Good Morning Houston, ABC Channel 13, 1987
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"A walk on the human side," Houston Chronicle, March 15, 1987
The Human Tour, historical road markers (selected installation images), 1987
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original plaque design 1987 graphite rubbing for approval, fabricated by Southwell Co., San Antonio

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holding aluminum plaque for head of figure 1987 fabricated by Southwell Co., San Antonio

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aluminum plaque 1987 plaque installed at head of figure, Everett at Morris

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aluminum plaque 1987 plaque installed at right hand of figure, Wichita at Austin

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aluminum plaque 1987 plaque installed at right foot of figure, Alice at Scott

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aluminum plaque 1987 plaque installed at left foot of figure, Paris at Hull

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aluminum plaque 1987 plaque installed at left hand of figure, Lockwood at Munger

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aluminum plaque 1987 holding plaque for head of figure, Everett at Morris, interview for ABC 13 News

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The Human Tour, painted human silhouette route markers (selected images), 1987
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1987 route marker, blue painted figure stenciled on street

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1987 Jack Massing and Scott Carpenter painting route marker, blue painted figure stenciled on street

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1987 route marker, blue painted figure stenciled on street

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1987 plywood stencil used for painting route marker on street

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1987 route marker, blue painted figure stenciled on street

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1987 Jack Massing and Scott Carpenter painting route marker, blue painted figure stenciled on street

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The Human Tour, exhibition at DiverseWorks, 1987
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exhibition invitation front and verso 1987 xerography and rubber stamp 4 x 6 in.

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exhibition at DiverseWorks 1987 plaque blueprints, slow scan TV systems

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exhibition at DiverseWorks 1987 title wall with painted road marker use on streets

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exhibition at DiverseWorks 1987 plywood stencils for painted road markers on streets

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1987 slow scan video system camera at right hand location, Austin Street at Wichita Street

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exhibition at DiverseWorks 1987 details, slow scan video system monitor

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The Human Tour, 1987, other images and documents
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budget 1987

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letter from the City of Houston granting permission to place historical plaques 1987

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document from the City of Houston accepting The Human Tour for the city art collection 1987

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original map used to design the route 1982

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graphic image used for Human Tour map 1985

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1987 US Geological Survey Maps

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1983 Hand to Mouth

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1988 proposal sketch for adaptation for Amsterdam

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The Human Tour
original concept proposal, 1982

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original project proposal 1982 cover page

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original project proposal 1982 project description

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original project proposal 1982 tour route

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original project proposal 1982 tour route (continued)

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original project proposal 1982 project statistics

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original project proposal 1982 human figure study used for project

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original project proposal 1982 image indicating location of plaque for right foot of figure, Scott at Alice

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original project proposal 1982 image indicating location of plaque for head of figure, Everett at Morris

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original project proposal 1982 image indicating location of plaque for right hand of figure, Wichita at Austin

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original project proposal 1982 image indicating location of plaque for left foot of figure, Hull at Paris

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original project proposal 1982 image indicating location of plaque for right hand of figure, Lockwood at Munger

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original project proposal 1982 tour map

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original project proposal 1982 neighborhoods

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original project proposal 1982 tour map, detail Neighborhood Improvement Planning Program map, Central Business District

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original project proposal 1982 tour map, detail Neighborhood Improvement Planning Program map, streets in poor condition

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original project proposal 1982 tour map, detail Neighborhood Improvement Planning Program map, Washington existing land use

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original project proposal 1982 tour map, detail Neighborhood Improvement Planning Program map, Midtown, Fourth Ward - Streets Less Than 28 Feet Wide

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original project proposal 1982 marker study

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original project proposal 1982 marker study

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The Human Tour
updates and new realizations

"A Handy Reminder: Houston Is Not a Human City"
Houston Press, September 29, 2009
"Enormous Forgotten Art Project"
The Great God Pan Is Dead, September 30, 2009
The Human Tour, 2013, realized by Carrie Marie Schneider
"Michael Galbreth's Massive, Largely Forgotten Public Art Project 'The Human Tour' Lives On"
Houston Press, February 7, 2013
"Hazmat Hikers To Trek Across Houston"
Swamplot, February 7, 2013
The Human Tour" 
OffCite, February 22, 2013
"Carrie Schneider and Alex Tu: The Human Tour 2013"
Glasstire, March 8, 2013
The Human Tour, 2018 
updated map, history, and directions by Shay Hill