Carl Seiler's Around Houston Postcards

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The Houston Heights remains one of Houston's most recognizable neighborhoods. Today, a neighborhood located near the center of the city, the Houston Heights were designed in 1892 as a suburban city to the northwest of Houston.

The South Texas Land Company purchased 1,765 acres near White Oak Bayou and started construction in 1892. The paved most of the streets[19th Avenue in the Heights] with shell and gravel, and tarmacked Heights Boulevard, originally simply called "The Boulevard." The founder of the South Texas Land Co., Oscar Martin Carter operated Houston's two mule-car rail lines. He insured that the Heights would get electric streetcar lines to connect it to downtown Houston. A streetcar and tracks can be seen in the postcard to the right that shows 19th Avenue, an east-west street in the Heights.

Although it's difficult to tell, the Heights indeed are high above downtown Houston. Marguerite Johnston describes the area before development, saying that "a forest covered the high land rising 62 feet above the bayou and a mile and half from the Grand Central depot" (1991:102). However, notice what seems to be a relative lack of trees in this postcard picture. This seems particularly interesting for a neighborhood now known for its old oaks and pecans. Perhaps, much like today's developers, all was razed before constuction, then replaced with proper, "landscaped" trees.

The city of Houston Heights voted to be annexed by Houston in 1918.

[Tree-lined Main Street, circa 1910] Although many people don't think of it as a residential street, Main Street indeed was for years home to some of Houston's most stately homes. Many of them were razed to make way for Houston's growing downtown, but at the turn of the century, they lined Main Street, south out of town. The card to the left shows tree-lined Main North from Jefferson. Although Main doesn't appear to be paved, the street is curbed, and there are concrete sidewalks. Jefferson is two blocks north of Interstate 45, as it loops around the south side of downtown, and this is looking north towards town.

The card, mailed to Springfield, Ill. on November 4th, 1911, has another great message about Houston weather:

Dear Girls, Got here all right Thursday 1 P.M. Am visiting with friends a few days. Weather ideal roses blooming everywhere. Windows open and no fires to keep up. I trust you are both well. Address Victoria, Tex. L.M.M.

[Main at Dallas postcard image]This one is even closer in to downtown, showing the intersection of Dallas and Main. At the heart of one of the busiest parts of town today were the residences of turn-of-the-century business leaders such as Henry S. Fox (of Houston National Bank and Sid Westheimer Co.) who lived in the first house from the right. The second home from the right, 1216 Main, was designed by architect Nicholas Clayton, whose work is seen in other cards on these pages, both in Houston and Galveston. This card is particularly interesting since it was posted on the New Orleans & Houston railway line and bears an R.P.O. postmark, 31 July 1908. To top it off, it was posted to the relatively tiny town of Luckenbach, Texas, made famous by Waylon Jennings in the 1970s. Select here to see the address side. The message, written on the front side--as was common in the early 1900s--reads, "Looking out toward San Antonio. This is one of the prettiest stretches in the south."

[Avondale Boulevard, ca. 1915]Avondale is one block north of Westheimer, and although these homes are large, they aren't built on nearly as large size of lots as those found on other streets at this time period.

The early divided back card of the Heights was published by S.H. Kress & Co. The white border Avondale card was published by E. C. Kropp & Co. (Thanks to Lent 1983 for much of the information on Houston residential areas). The Dallas & Main Street card is new and replaces the one formerly from the collection of Robert Ford. Thank you, Robert. The Dallas & Main card was published by the Rotograph Co. of New York, and printed in Germany. These pages are copyright © 1999-2001 Leslie Carl Seiler. All rights reserved. Updated 9 August 2001.

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