Houston

 

 

Click on any image to enlarge

 

 

Houston skyline from Allen Parkway

 

 

San Jacinto Battleground & Monument

 

After the massacres at The Alamo (March 6, 1836) and Goliad (March 27, 1836), Gen. Santa Anna's army started moving eastward to finish off the remaining Texian Army. Settlers in his path also fled, and the situation later became known as the Runaway Scrape. Being overconfident of his eventual victory and believing that he had the Texians surrounded, Santa Anna rested his army on the prairie now known as San Jacinto on April 21. His objective was to attack on April 22nd.

On the afternoon of April 21, General Sam Houston's army made a surprise attack on the Mexican garrison and routed the enemy in about 18 minutes. The battle cry of "Remember The Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" were heard as the Texians slaughtered the Mexicans as they attempted to run away. Only 9 Texians were killed in the battle.

Santa Anna was caught a day later, dressed as a private in his attempt to escape. His masquerade was foiled by his troops recognizing him, and shouting "El Presidente !".

 

 

Many historians consider the Battle of San Jacinto one of the eight most important battles in world history, because it opened up for the expansion of the United States to the Pacific Ocean after the Mexican War in 1848.

 

 

The monument was erected in 1937 and is 567 feet tall (15 feet taller than the Washington Monument).

     
 
Plaque inside The San Jacinto Monument

Inside the monument, there is a plaque honoring the men of the Texian Army that did not participate in the actual battle, but were held in reserve to guard the sick and the baggage.

     
 

One of those men was my great-great grandfather, Gibson Kuykendall. He was a captain in the Texian Army. During the Runaway Scrape, as the Texian Army seemed to be fleeing eastward with the settlers and according to family lore and one account I read, Gibson called Houston a coward for running away. There had been bad blood between the Houstons and the Kuykendalls for quite some time.

Apparently, as punishment, Houston ordered Gibson and his Kuykendall cousins to stay behind and not participate in the battle. I am sure this was a great disappointment, but in my readings, I have never read anything by Gibson that was derogatory against Houston.

     
 
Lynchburg Ferry

In 1822, Nathaniel Lynch began his ferry service across the Buffalo Bayou at the convergence of the San Jacinto River. During the Texas Revolution, settlers and the Texian Army used the ferry during the Runaway Scrape to flee from Santa Anna's Army. The ferry is just north of the San Jacinto Battlefield.

In 1915, Buffalo Bayou was dredged out to create the Houston Ship Channel and the ferry was upgraded to accompdate the expanded waterway. Today, the ferry has two vessels and will accommodate approximately 11 cars.

     
 

Battleship U.S.S. Texas

The Battleship Texas is the oldest remaining Dreadnaught Class battleship, and participated in both World War I and World War II.

The most famous battles that she participated in were the D-Day Normandy Invasion and later, in the Pacific, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

She has been placed in dry dock several times for repairs and restoration. The salt water moorings on the Ship Channel have taken their toll on her hull. It is uncertain how much longer she will be able to float in water.

 

The Battleship Texas is located just across the highway from the San Jacinto Battlefield.

 

     
 

Houston Negro Hospital

Historical places around the country are disappearing at a record pace. There are so many places and things that I remember from the past that are now gone.

Some of those things are good, and some bad. This is a flashback to Houston's Southern History. The building is still in use, but is a clinic for poor people. I am sure that the name of the hospital above the alcove will be replaced in the near future.

 

 

     
 

Sterling Mansion on Morgan's Point

Built for Ross Sterling, co-founder of Humble Oil, newspaper publisher and Governor of Texas 1931-33, and his wife, Nee Maud Gage, the Sterling Mansion was designed by Alfred C. Finn (architect of the nearby San Jacinto Monument). It was reportedly the largest residence in Texas when built and the Georgian Revival mansion's design is popularly believed to be based on Washington, D.C, White House. It was donated to private charity in 1946. At the time it was built it had maple floors, solid bronze plumbing, Tiffany chandeliers, silver and gold sconces and 12" thick walls of Texas limestone. It was listed on the National Register in 1982. Hare & Hare of Kansas City were original landscape architects, but little remains of their work.

 

The mansion's significance to me is that I was a waiter at the Farewell To Mercury party that was held at the mansion in the early '60s. All of the original astronauts were there, along with a lot of dignitaries. I wore a white jacket and served champaigne as I walked around the grand ballroom floor. I especially remember serving John Glenn, Alan Shepherd, and Wally Schirra. The mansion was in far better repair at that time.

     
 

Another view of downtown Houston

from Sam Houston Park

     
 

Spirit of The Confederacy Statue

for a picture of the plaque, click here.

 

The statue is located in Sam Houston Park at the edge of downtown Houston.

 

To this day, people argue whether the Civil War was fought over slavery or states rights. It is interesting, that in 1908, the plaque was inscribed to aver that the war was fought over states rights.

     
 

Dick Dowling Statue

in Hermann Park

 

For a picture of the plaque, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

 

 

Mecom Fountain

on Main Street near Hermann Park

 

 

 

     
 
Fountain on Allen Parkway
 

Sam Houston Statue

at Hermann Park

 

Sam Houston was definitely a colorful man in history. Born in Virginia, he became governor of Tennessee, then left his wife and lived with the Cherokee Indians for a few years. They originally gave him the name of "The Raven" but later changed it to "Big Drunk".

He migrated to Texas to eventually become the general of the Texian Army against the Mexican forces under Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Houston defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 and Texas became a Republic and Houston was elected president. When Texas was annexed into the United States in 1845, Houston became governor.

Houston was opposed to the secession of Texas during the Civil War, and retired to his home in Huntsville. He died in 1863.

 

The statue has Houston on a horse, pointing to the San Jacinto Battlefield.

 

     
 

Astrodome

When the Astrodome opened in 1964, it was touted as the 8th Wonder of the World. It was conceived by ex-mayor Roy Hofheinz, who got the idea after visiting Rome and learning that the ancient Romans built a veleria (awning) over the Colosseum to protect the spectators from the Roman sun.

 

For many years, it hosted the baseball team, The Houston Astros, the football team, The Houston Oilers, and the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo.

 

With the construction of the new football stadium (Reliant Stadium) and the baseball stadium downtown (Minute Maid Park), the Astrodome has become vacant and without purpose. Ideas have been put forth for another use, such as a convention center or and amusement park, but none have come to fruition. It will probably be torn down in the near future.

Hopefully, I will get a better picture. The sheriff's deputy was threatening me with incarceration if I did not leave immediately.

     
 

Lankford Grocery

In the older part of midtown is Lankford Grocery, which has been there since 1937. It's a mom & pop hamburger joint and diner that makes the best hamburgers imaginable as well as enchiladas, chicken fried steak and tacos on certain days. They also serve breakfast, starting at 7am.

So many small family eateries have been put out of business by the giant national chains. I don't think Lankford has much to worry about in the near future, because if you don't get there early for lunch, you will have to wait for a seat.

For an inside picture, click here.

     
 

Felix Mexican Restaurant

I grew up eating Felix Tex-Mex dinners at their location in The Village. As with most situations, whatever you grew up on becomes the standard which you judge all others. That is what Felix's is for me. Was it greasy? Yep, but it was good !

Felix closed his last location on Westheimer several years ago, but the sign has remained there. Today, I went to take a picture before it is torn down. The new owner of the property was inside, talking to the workmen. He told me that the location will reopen as a sushi bar. Talk about sacrilege.

Luckily, El Patio Restaurant on Westheimer bought the recipes from Felix and hired one of his chefs. So, there are "Felix" plates you can get there. I had one of the dinners, and it was spot on. For a picture of it, click here.

     
 

River Oaks Theater

Another part of Americana that is vanishing is the neighborhood movie theater. When I was a youngster, we had three movie houses. They were all downtown: The Loew's, The Metropolitan, and The Majestic. The Majestic was the old Opera House of days gone by.

The River Oaks Theater opened in 1939.

From my teen years on, the neighborhood movies took over. Close to home for me was The Village Theater. And, when I was 16, I was an usher at The Alabama Theater.

They are both gone now, and I wonder how long the River Oaks will last.

     
 

Houston Airport Terminal and Tower

 

The Houston Municipal Airport Terminal was the main air terminal from 1940 to 1954. It is a classic example of the 30's and 40's art deco design. In 1978, the Hobby airport manager proposed to demolish it, but it was saved by enthusiests. It is now being restored, and is open as a museum of Houston's aviation history. For a closeup of the entrance, click here. During these days of International and Intercontinental airports, I like the title of the 4th largest city's airport of long ago, named "Houston Municipal Airport".

 

On a personal note, I remember going there as a child of about 5 years old, holding onto my mother's hand because I found it a bit scary. I don't remember who we were meeting there, perhaps, my father. That would have been in 1948.

 

     
 

La Carafe

 

 

La Carafe was built by Irish immigrant, John Kennedy, in 1847. It is one of the oldest buildings in Houston, and is the oldest continuously opened commercial building in Houston.

Originally a bakery, it baked fresh baked busquits for weary Confederate soldiers returning from the Civil War. Later, it became a Pony Express station, and in the 1950's, became it's current business, a wine and beer bar.

If you're looking for great wine at a reasonable price, don't go here. The small glass of wine is at room temperature (which is warm in the summer), and it costs $8.00. But, you should go at least once for the ambience and the history. As an extra bonus, there is supposedly a ghost, nicknamed Madaline who lives there.

It is located at 813 Congress in Houston. For more pictures of La Carafe, click here.

La Carafe, 1847
   
     
 

Light Spikes

Created in 1990 for the G8 World Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations in Houston, The Light Spikes are supposed to symbolize the togetherness of the nations involved. From left, the countries are Japan, Germany, France, Canada, United States, European Union, Italy, and Great Britain. The host for the conference was President George H. W. Bush, and probably the reason that the conference was held in Houston.

Originally placed outside the George R. Brown Convention Center for the conference, the spikes have been displayed at the Bush Intercontinental Airport since that time.

I have been told that, during the conference, the French president, Fran├žois Mitterrand, looked out of his suite window at the Omni Hotel, and seeing the vast tree canopy over Houston, said "they built a city out of a forest".

 

Conceived by: Jay Baker/ Llewelyn-Davies Sahni, a Houston Architectural and Urban Design firm.

     
     
     

Other Old or Cool Buildings and Things about town

 
 
Annunciation Church, 1869
 
Cotton Exchange Building, 1884
 
Sweeny, Coombs, & Fredericks Bldg, 1889
 
 

Plaque on Dowling St. honoring Lightnin' Hopkins

Blues singer and guitar player

 

John Milroy House, 1898

Heights Blvd @ 11th Street (Click here for plaque)

 

Imperial Sugar, 1925

The icon of Sugarland, Texas

 
 
NASA
 
Saturn V Rocket (Apollo Missions)
 
It's hard to grasp the size of it
 
 

Butterfly House

Hermann Park

 
Harris County Courthouse, 1910
 

The Hanging Tree, 400 years old

See plaque, click here

 
 

Sundial at Hermann Park

Note the marker says 11:02. It was actually 12:02 but on August 31, 2011,

we were on daylight savings time

 

Houston Zoo

For a militant rant against all zoos, click here.

 

Alabama Theater, 1939

Soon to be a Trader Joe's Grocery Store

 
 

Water Wall

at Williams Tower (Galleria area)

 

Farmers Market

For more on Farmers Market, click here

 

Wabash Feed Store, 1908

You can still buy chickens, ducks, rabbits, feed, etc.

       

Shotgun shacks

in Freemans Town. For explanation, click here.