Gail Borden, the founder of the Borden Milk Company and a Houston newspaper publisher, drew the original plans for the city of Houston. Congress square was bound by Congress and Preston Streets and Milam and Travis Streets. Later it would become known as Market Square, and this is where several of Houston's city halls stood. The last two city halls on this site had stalls for grocery and produce dealers. Grocers continued to use the site after the new city hall was built at another location in 1939. A new produce terminal near Old Spanish Trail opened in 1954, and many of the large produce dealers moved there. The block continues to be known as Market Square.
This card shows city hall and the market house around 1900. The statue in front is of Dick Dowling, Houston saloonkeeper who led the Confederate defense of Texas at the Battle of Sabine Pass. The statue is currently in Hermann Park.
For some years after the destruction of this building, the large Seth Thomas clock was missing. In the early 1980s, it was found by a man in a junk yard. Efforts were made to return it to the City of Houston, and in the mid 1990s, it was installed in a new clock tower across from Market Square, where you'll find it today.
This undivided back card shows Commerce St., "Produce Row," around the turn of the century. The card is postmarked in 1907. By this time, the produce market consisted of several blocks around Market Square and this postcard probably shows a view from the corner of Commerce and Congress looking East. Today, "Produce Row" is near the railroads off of Old Spanish Trail.
To the left is the same view on an divided back card postmarked 1908. Businesses seen in this card include the Desel & Boettcher Co., a fruit and vegetable shop. The large, brownish-red building on the left is a cotton company.
On the next page, we'll take a look at some other public buildings in Houston.
The undivided back card of City
Hall was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons, and
printed in Holland. The
undivided back Commerce Street card was published by Souvenir Postcard
Co. of New York, and is in green and white as
shown. The 1908 card of Commerce Street was also published by Souvenir Postcard
Co. of New York, and printed in Germany.
This HTML page is copyright ©1998, 1999 Leslie Carl Seiler. All rights reserved. This page was updated 27 July 2001.