Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Hanging in Harrisburg

On June 29, 1859, the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph reported the lynching of George White.

White, a railroad laborer standing over six feet tall, was accused of seizing a 12-year-old girl near Harrisburg and raping her. He fled to Galveston, where he was taken into custody and brought before a magistrate two days later.

Arrangements were made to take White to Houston and put him in jail. Accompanying him were Galveston's deputy sheriff and a constable from Harrisburg.

The newspaper account continues:

About a mile and a half from Harrisburg they were surrounded by forty or fifty men in disguise, who tied the deputy sheriff and constable, and seized upon the prisoner and hung him to the branch of a tree.

Indignant at the dispensing of mob justice, the newspaper concluded:

Whenever the law is taken into the hands of the people its moral force is weakened, and a too frequent resort to lynching will break down all regard for the laws of the land. We can accord no praise to the executioners of White, though we cannot say that he did not deserve the fate he came to.

The newspaper published the name of the 12-year-old victim -- something you wouldn't see in today's media.

The race of the victim and the suspect were not provided, so I'm not sure the lynching was racially motivated.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More pics from 1935 flood (final set)

Milam Street and Congress Avenue

Milam Street, between Commerce and Franklin. Last time I checked, that building was still there and looks pretty much the same from behind. The front has changed somewhat, I think. That's Bayou Lofts (the old Southern Pacific building) in the background.

This is the northeast corner of what's now Jones Plaza!

This is Louisiana Avenue, looking north toward Texas Avenue. The old city auditorium (now Jones Hall) is on the right.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Metro-area map of Houston

Here's another map of the area. It was part of a street map put out by Gulf Oil sometime during WWII. (City Hall is identified as "new" in this edition.)

The map also features this little gem:

"On the Ninth Floor of the Gulf Building in Houston -- headquarters of the Gulf Tourguide-Fishguide Bureau -- you will find a comfortable lounge, easy chairs, rest rooms, telephones, a place where you can be at home away from home."

I'm sure this doesn't exist today. I wonder when it was shut down?

(And finally, welcome readers! I hope my first post explains why I created this blog. One thing I forgot to mention was this caveat: Each entry is not the be-all, end-all on a particular topic. My sources include maps, some reference books and an abnormal stack of newspaper clips from Houston's past. If you find an entry that can use some fleshing out, then feel free to contribute!)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Map of downtown Houston

Here is a WWII-era map of downtown Houston. It was produced by the fine folks at Gulf Oil.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Let's back up for a second

Houston's Grand Central Depot, above, was located close to where the Southern Pacific Depot was constructed. The photo is from a postcard mailed in 1910.

Records show that by the end of 1887, an $80,000 Central Depot was completed. It was later renovated in 1906 and in 1914. It is assumed that refers to the train station identified above.

Of course, these train stations were not the only ones to exist in Houston in the early 20th century!

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Houston's Southern Pacific Depot

A Saturday morning breakfast was the only ceremony that marked the opening of Houston's Southern Pacific Depot.

Sometime in September 1934, the descendants of Gen. Sidney Sherman gathered around a breakfast table at the terminal with other newspaper reporters and munched on fried chicken and toast.

No speeches, no ribbon cutting. A woman from San Angelo was the first to purchase a ticket at the new terminal. The trip: Houston to Bay City.

According to the WPA guide to Houston, the total cost of construction came out to $4,347,000 in 1934 dollars ($62,050,368 in 2005 dollars).

The building was located at 329 Franklin Ave., where the downtown post office is today. It was open from 5:30 a.m. to midnight daily.

The building was demolished in 1960. Two items from the old structure were rescued from demolition. The lighted Southern Pacific sign outside the train station was moved to the Southern Pacific building on Travis.

The other item...well, I'll save that for another day.

UPDATE: The Southern Pacific sign lives on at the Houston Railroad museum.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

More photos of the 1935 flood

In the background of the second photo is the old Grand Central Terminal, also known as the Southern Pacific terminal. It opened in 1934 and was torn down in the 1960s to build the downtown post office. More information on that coming soon.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Great Houston Flood of 1935

This is the intersection of Louisiana Street and Texas Avenue, looking west. To the left is the old City Auditorium. On the right is the Auditorium Hotel, which is now the Lancaster Hotel.

This picture was taken in December 1935 after rains drenched much of downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.

According to the Harris County Flood Control District, damage from the 1935 flood totaled nearly $3 million ($41,414,787.72 in today's dollars) and killed seven people. Twenty-five blocks of downtown Houston were submerged along with 100 residential blocks.

Floods like this one led to the creation of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs located in far west Houston.

More about the Harris County Flood Control District can be found here.

I have a few more photos from the flood, and I'll post them soon.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

What is the meaning of this?

OK. I never really found the concept of a blog all that appealing. In fact, I still don't. Nothing is more upsetting than to see someone invest so much time in their blog only to see no one has commented on it.

Frankly, no one wants to hear what I think about President Bush, the 2006 midterm elections, or the global war on terror.

But then I figured I could turn this medium into something that would not only be educational but also fun.

You see, I'm a native Houstonian with an interest in local history. I've always been fascinated at whatever purpose some old, decrepit building served years ago. It's amazing to look at one area of the city and realize that a century ago, it may have been a bustling residential area, an industrial center, or even an old Army fort. I always thought that there were still some forgotten pieces of Houston's history just waiting to be uncovered.

I've already started digging. This blog will show what I've found.

I don't plan to update this blog every day. Maybe once a week, maybe a couple of times a month, depending on demand. Either way, I hope you come away from it learning something new about the Bayou City.