Carl Seiler's Houston Downtown Postcard Page

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Main Street

Main Street, Looking North, around 1908 First off, is a postcard showing Main Street looking north around 1908. Notice the streetcar tracks and the lack of automobiles. The first full building on the left is the S.H. Kress & Co. 5-10 and 25 Cents Store. The five-story structure with the balcony is the Rice Hotel (see also). On the right side of the street you can make out the Texas Optical Co. ("Eyes Tested Free"), what looks like McNabb's Restaurant ("Eat Up Town"), C.L. & Theo. Bering's H[ardware?], an advertisement for Bachelor Cigars, and in the distance, Foley's.

Main Street [Houston Main Street GIF] was a busy street in the late 1920s, when this postcard was probably produced. Businesses seen in this postcard include Foley Bros., V.A. Corrigan Watches and Diamonds, the Queen Theater, Peyton's, Shudde's Hats, Munn's, and Ladin's. Notice the angular parking and the heavy traffic.

The original Cecil Thompson photograph, upon which this postcard was based, also showed the marquee for the Rialto Theatre, conspicuously missing from the postcard. The movie showing at the Queen is Kiss in a Taxi starring Bebe Daniels while the Rialto was showing The Fourth Commandment with Belle Bennett . Also missing in this modified postcard image are the power lines cutting across Main Street. The movies help date this card and photograph to 1927.

Main street showing ship channel. Here are two more views of Main Street from Buffalo Bayou. Main street used to go right down to the ship channel. The card on the left is based on a photograph by George Beach, a photographer who apparently made several photographs of Houston near the turn of the century. This white border card was probably published between 1915 and 1930 (I'd bet on the early end of that period). Houston Ship Channel Ca. 1910. To the right is a postcard from around 1908-1915, showing a lot of activity at the port. It is likely that this was some sort of special event, as I can't imaging such crowds normally showing up at the port regularly.

Color registration on this second card is off, causing the blue to be shifted down and to the right. I would love to get a better copy. Businesses seen in this card include the Wm. D. Cleveland & Sons Wholesale Grocers and Cotton Factors. Also pictured is a building with the word "Jasmine" in large letters. I'm uncertain as to its business.

This area no longer serves as a port, but for many years Houstonians saw this as the best location for a port. In reality, even with continued deepening, it was very difficult for large ships to negotiate the turns of Buffalo Bayou to arrive at downtown Houston. Eventually, the site of old Harrisburg became the main area of the Houston ship channel and the location of the turning basin. The location shown in these postcards was eventually landscaped and turned into a park. It is now known as Allen's Landing.

Finally, one more card of Houston's Main Street is important mainly from a Leather postcard of Main St. deltiological (postcard collecting) perspective. This card is made of leather, a popular novelty at the beginning of the 20th century. This leather card shows Main Street looking north from Texas Ave. It was postmarked in 1907, and the publisher is not identified. The drawing features a street car and none of the stores along the street can be easily picked out; however, the first building on the left is the Rice Hotel. The text reads:

I am facing this street now. Am in the building marked by "X" Hope all are well. I am alright. Your brother, Edward Thomas.

It was addressed to Miss Lillie K. Thomas of Victoria, Texas. Interestingly, the back of the postcard features a commemorative stamp, unusual for postcards of that period. Leather postcards were reportedly later banned because of the difficulty in handling them, especially as mail sorting equipment came into increasing use.

On the next page, we'll take a look at City Hall, and "Market Square."

The white border card of Main Street looking north is by C.T. American of Chicago and published by Seawall Specialty Co. of Houston and Galveston. The Main Street Viaduct and Ship Channel card was printed by C.T. American Art, and published by Sauter's News Agency, Houston, Texas. The bluish card showing the ship channel and the borderless divided back card of Main Street were published by S.H. Kress & Co.
This HTML page is copyright ©1998-2005 Leslie Carl Seiler. All rights reserved. Moved to on 27 November 2005.

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