Thursday, December 28, 2006

Springtime at the Houston Ship Channel

This aerial photograph was taken sometime around April 1923. To the left is the Turning Basin. Somewhere down the center of the photograph is where Loop 610 would be today.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

92 posts, 5,000 visitors

BCH has had 5,000 visitors since June. During that time, the site has had 12,100 page views. Not bad!

Because of the Christmas holiday, BCH will take a few days off and return next week. Actually, I'll be in Houston for a few days, at least. Other than a 45-minute layover at IAH this week, I haven't been home all year!

So, take care, and happy holidays, all!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Houston in 1924

212,000 (1924)
2,016,582 (2005)

36 square miles (1924)
601.7 square miles (2006)

89 miles of streetcar tracks

362 miles of paved streets

Real estate transfers of $26,080,972

Monthly purchases of groceries of more than $2,000,000

28 feet (1924)
43 feet (2006)

Mean temperature
69.1 (1924)
68.8 (Based on period from 1971 through 2000)

Summer mean temperature: 82.4

Winter mean temperature: 54.5

59 school buildings

21.2 per thousand (1924)
18.6 (2003)

Death rate: 11.6 per thousand

(Source for 1924 information came from the Chronicle's guide to the city.)


Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Sweeney Clock

The clock that now sits at Capitol and Bagby was moved there in the mid-1970s. Originally, it was built in 1908 and placed in front of the Sweeney Jewelry store on 409 Main Street.

Three pictures from Galveston, circa 1907. St. Mary's Cathedral, Galveston Medical College and Sealy Hospital.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

The explosion of the Farmer

Two steamers, the Farmer and the Neptune, were racing from Galveston to Houston on March 23, 1853. During the race, the Farmer exploded, killing J.M. Reynolds.

A coroner's inquest into Reynolds' death was held at Galveston, the Houston Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register reported a few days later.

The jury decided that Reynolds died from injuries received when the Farmer exploded during the race.

Blame for the explosion was not placed on the owners or agents of the Farmer. In fact, the paper reported, "Gen E.B. Nichols is the principal, if not the sole, agent in this city of the line to which the Farmer belonged, and he informs us that he repeatedly charged Capt. Webb not to engage in racing with the Neptune or any other boat."

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Turning basin, circa early 1920s

Note bridge at top of photo.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas at the Metropolitan

It was a full day of entertainment when the $2 million Metropolitan Theatre opened on Dec. 25, 1926.

The main attraction was the silent film “Stranded in Paris” starring Dallas native Bebe Daniels.

“I know that the Metropolitan will establish itself instantaneously as one of the outstanding theatres of the Publix Chain,” she said, in a telegram published in the Chronicle.

Throughout the day, patrons also saw:

  • Helen Yorke and James Quinlan in the production of “The Inaugural Banquet,” produced by Paul Oscard. “The young producer was visibly impressed with the magnificence of the Metropolitan,…” the Chronicle reported.

  • Charlie Calvert, comedian and dancer

  • Mabel Hollis, singer

  • Irnamette, a dancing violinist with the ability to dance the Charleston and play her instrument at the same time

  • The Eight Leonara Steppers dance team

  • George Dayton, comedian

  • “Melodies of Southern States,” featuring the Metropolitan orchestra

  • “Organs I Have Played,” featuring the “internationally famous organist” George Latsch

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Houston Ship Channel

Two photos, circa 1923, of the Houston Ship Channel area. I have a few more I'll share over the next couple of weeks.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I took this picture about six years ago, maybe five years ago when I still lived in Houston. This is somewhere near Market Square. I want to say this is at that parking lot on the north side of the Chronicle Building, but I can't remember. It's funny that whoever paved over the lot decided not to pave this part of the storefront.

I want to say this was where Grants dime store used to be, but I'm not sure. Does anyone remember a Grants downtown?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Stop! Thief!

From the "Some things never change" department:

On Dec 8, 1876, the Houston Daily Telegraph asked rhetorically, "Why is not the vagrant law enforced?"

Apparently, the paper was somewhat upset at the thieves "at work in the city."

Among the recent thefts the paper reported:

  • A camp mattress at Macatee's Warehouse was stolen.
  • Someone cut off the pantaloons pocket of a Mr. D.B. Lynch and made off with $18. (What cost $18 in 1876 would cost $302.59 in 2005 dollars.)
  • Someone also pickpocketed $5 from a Mr. B. Stone. (Five dollars in 1876 would cost $84.05 in 2005.)

The newspaper reported the men had been visiting from Montgomery County.

Also noted that day...

The Iron Bridge had been repaired and opened for travel. Not much is said about the bridge itself, other than it crossed the bayou.

"Draymen, horsemen and the public generally will rejoice at this, for every one compelled to go to and fro across the bayou traveled not less than one hundred miles extra during the time it was closed up," the paper reported (emphasis mine).


Friday, December 01, 2006

99 years ago today

The city block located where the Harris County Administration Building sits today was the scene of a large fire Dec. 1, 1907.

Fortunately, no one was killed in the blaze, but three people were injured by falling debris.

What caused the fire was a matter of speculation the following day, the Chronicle reported. Most witnesses at the time heard an explosion just before the fire started.

One such witnesses was H.J. Larson, deputy county clerk. He told the Chronicle in its Dec. 2 edition that while standing at Main and Congress, an explosion appeared to lift the roof of the Dunn Building "several feet and then settle back in place again." By the time firefighters arrived, the blaze spread to other buildings on the same block.

Among the items lost in the fire were federal court papers. The court was located on the top floor of the Houston Theatre Building which was destroyed.

"There was not a vault or safe provided for all of the valuable papers and decrees of the court and except for reports sent to Washington, the court will be without a paper or record to show the disposition of a single case which ever came before the court in this city," the Chronicle reported.

Other buildings destroyed and/or damaged were:

  • The Houston Theatre on Main Street
  • The Julia Sellers Building, Congress at Fannin
  • The Miller Building, Preston at Fannin
  • The Pillot Building, Main Street
  • Three saloons, including the Texas Bar
  • The Levy Brothers Building
  • The J.J. Sweeney Jewelry Company Building, Congress at Main

The Sweeney Company Building, aka the Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks Building still exists.

In the end, damage was estimated at $477,500 ($9,800,005 in today's dollars).

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