top of page
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.
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
"A walk on the human side," Houston Chronicle, March 15, 1987
The Human Tour, historical road markers (selected installation images), 1987
The Human Tour, painted human silhouette route markers (selected images), 1987
The Human Tour, exhibition at DiverseWorks, 1987
The Human Tour, 1987, other images and documents
The Human Tour
original concept proposal, 1982

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
bottom of page