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Subdude

Houston in the 1980s

35 posts in this topic

The Rendezvous Houston topic got me thinking about the big downturn. Bank failures, "see-through skyscrapers" and the "foreclosure belt". On the positive side, traffic got a lot better. Some places answered their phones "Houston Proud! How can I help you?"

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Foreclosure belt, thousands walked out on their mortgages. It was also a buyers market, we picked up a foreclosure at a very affordable price, 1/10th of what we paid for our house in the New York a decade later at the height of the housing market.

Edited by devonhart

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Ahh, good old Kathy Whitmire. Remember she also introduced us to good old Lee Brown....

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It was rough then. A lot of stores closed down. I remember whole shopping centers being pretty much empty. The big apartment districts like Fondren SW, Broadway and Greenspoint all really took a hard hit and never did recover. Inner city areas like the Heights and Montrose that had started gentrifying just sort of stopped. Subdivisions out in suburbia had blocks and blocks of streets with no houses. In some of the tract home subdivisions you can still see the jump where all of the sudden you go from 70's style tract homes to 90's era red brick, (when building started to resume) right in the same subdivision.

Rents were unbelievably cheap. You could get a decent one bedroom apartment in the suburbs for $175 a month.

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Anybody got a picture of a "Don't Shoot, Louie!" t-shirt? Google Image Search didn't turn up anything.

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Ahh, good old Kathy Whitmire. Remember she also introduced us to good old Lee Brown....

I seem to remember the city jail being called the Whitmire Hilton.

Love the picture of Bookstop. Ah, the 80s when there were useful shopping places in that center: Whole Foods, Butera's, Cactus.

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someone told me that when beltway 8 was completed (circa 87?) on the night or weekend it was finished the city threw a big party on the freeway and huey lewis and the news played. does anybody remember this?

I only bring this up because first it had to be awesome, and second I just saw huey lewis on a capitol fourth. still rockin.

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someone told me that when beltway 8 was completed (circa 87?) on the night or weekend it was finished the city threw a big party on the freeway and huey lewis and the news played. does anybody remember this?

I only bring this up because first it had to be awesome, and second I just saw huey lewis on a capitol fourth. still rockin.

Yeah, I do. Details are fuzzy (I was in my 20s, afterall), but I remember a stage right in the middle of the toll road. I seem to also remember that the party trash on the roadway caused it to be pretty slick, necessitating a bigger cleanup than was originally planned.

For all the doom and gloom, there were also some good times. 1986 produced...aside from a record number of foreclosures...the Rendezvous Houston concert noted in another thread, in April, the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in June, the US Olympic Festival, an Olympic tuneup event with over 3,000 athletes in August, the MLB All-Star game at the Dome in July, and the Astros versus the Mets in perhaps the greatest playoff series ever in October.

There was also a sort of camaraderie brought on by the oil and housing collapse. Whereas money and wealth causes isolation and self-centeredness, recession causes people to look to their friends and neighbors for what is really important. It was a very interesting time to live in Houston. In fact, the collapse is the foundation of the controlled excitement surrounding the current boom. Oldtimers know it could happen again.

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It was an interesting time. It is easy now to forget just how serious the situation was. Almost every large bank failed and had to be bailed out (Bank of the Southwest, Allied, TCB, First City, Interfirst, RepublicBank et al.). Dozens of construction projects were canceled. Not just oil, construction and banking, but lots of other industries were gutted as well. The Shamrock, Savoy, Sheraton, Towers, Plaza and Whitehall hotels all had to close. I had forgotten what rps324 pointed out how gentrification came grinding to a halt, but it certainly did. I had friends who lost bundles when they were stuck with rehab properties in the Heights after the market collapsed.

The rest of the country didn't seem to be terribly sympathetic. It was thought that we had benefited while the rest of the country was hurting in the 1970s, and that Texas was getting its comeuppance for being too arrogant and boastful during the boom years. There was a saying around at the time to the effect of "Lord please bring back the good times, and I promise not to blow it this time." Perhaps something to bear in mind today.

Love the picture of Bookstop. Ah, the 80s when there were useful shopping places in that center: Whole Foods, Butera's, Cactus.

I put that in because it was a big deal when the Alabama Bookstop opened! It was so cool and so big it just blew every other bookstore out of the water. Every store in that center was always packed.

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Yeah, I do. Details are fuzzy (I was in my 20s, afterall), but I remember a stage right in the middle of the toll road. I seem to also remember that the party trash on the roadway caused it to be pretty slick, necessitating a bigger cleanup than was originally planned.

For all the doom and gloom, there were also some good times. 1986 produced...aside from a record number of foreclosures...the Rendezvous Houston concert noted in another thread, in April, the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in June, the US Olympic Festival, an Olympic tuneup event with over 3,000 athletes in August, the MLB All-Star game at the Dome in July, and the Astros versus the Mets in perhaps the greatest playoff series ever in October.

There was also a sort of camaraderie brought on by the oil and housing collapse. Whereas money and wealth causes isolation and self-centeredness, recession causes people to look to their friends and neighbors for what is really important. It was a very interesting time to live in Houston. In fact, the collapse is the foundation of the controlled excitement surrounding the current boom. Oldtimers know it could happen again.

The Huey Lewis concert was on a Saturday in 1990; I remember because we went to Benihana on Westheimer from Spring that night for my birthday. The concert was just west of 45; the freeway was open west of there if I recall and was free for the first few days (this was back when you had to stop & pay whether w/ exact coins or at the booth & get change and the traffic was not that bad), I remember we made it all the way around to I-10 but I don't remember if it was open all the way to 59; I think that may have been the next day or so.

'86 was a good year here after all, this was before anyone in my family (namely me) worked in oil & gas. I got to carry the Olympic torch that summer about 3 feet down Cypresswood Dr. w/ my scout troop. My dad got to go the Astros' penant clinching Monday playoff game w/ the Dodgers too.

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someone told me that when beltway 8 was completed (circa 87?) on the night or weekend it was finished the city threw a big party on the freeway and huey lewis and the news played. does anybody remember this?

I only bring this up because first it had to be awesome, and second I just saw huey lewis on a capitol fourth. still rockin.

I don't recall that, but I do recall that when they completed the section that ran from I-10 to 59, they opened it up a day early to bicyclists. My friiends and I all took a ride on it (quite taxing, due to a stiff, unimpeded wind that day) and then settled down for a mid-parkway concert by Joe "King" Carrasco. It was awesome.

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I don't recall that, but I do recall that when they completed the section that ran from I-10 to 59, they opened it up a day early to bicyclists. My friiends and I all took a ride on it (quite taxing, due to a stiff, unimpeded wind that day) and then settled down for a mid-parkway concert by Joe "King" Carrasco. It was awesome.

I seem to recall the Bangels playing at that event. I remember because my daughter wanted to go so bad.

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There was a saying around at the time to the effect of "Lord please bring back the good times, and I promise not to blow it this time." Perhaps something to bear in mind today.

I've always heard it as "Lord, please let it get back up to $40 a barrel, I swear I won't blow it this time"

Nowadays, we're (well, those of us not in the oil industry) all praying for it to get back DOWN to $60 a barrel!

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On July 6, 2008 at 5:20 AM, Subdude said:

It was an interesting time. It is easy now to forget just how serious the situation was. Almost every large bank failed and had to be bailed out (Bank of the Southwest, Allied, TCB, First City, Interfirst, RepublicBank et al.). Dozens of construction projects were canceled. Not just oil, construction and banking, but lots of other industries were gutted as well. The Shamrock, Savoy, Sheraton, Towers, Plaza and Whitehall hotels all had to close. I had forgotten what rps324 pointed out how gentrification came grinding to a halt, but it certainly did. I had friends who lost bundles when they were stuck with rehab properties in the Heights after the market collapsed.

The rest of the country didn't seem to be terribly sympathetic. It was thought that we had benefited while the rest of the country was hurting in the 1970s, and that Texas was getting its comeuppance for being too arrogant and boastful during the boom years. There was a saying around at the time to the effect of "Lord please bring back the good times, and I promise not to blow it this time." Perhaps something to bear in mind today.

I put that in because it was a big deal when the Alabama Bookstop opened! It was so cool and so big it just blew every other bookstore out of the water. Every store in that center was always packed.

TCB didn't fail. The others that you mentioned did, however. 

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14 hours ago, Wildcat51 said:

TCB didn't fail. The others that you mentioned did, however. 

That is true.  They were acquired by Chemical Bank.  If that hadn't happened though I suspect their fate would have been the same as the others. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I think that Bank of the Southwest, First City and TCB ended up as part of today's Chase Bank, InterFirst and Republic ended up within Bank of America, and Allied part of Wells Fargo.  

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On 7/14/2008 at 3:01 PM, ADCS said:

I've always heard it as "Lord, please let it get back up to $40 a barrel, I swear I won't blow it this time"

Nowadays, we're (well, those of us not in the oil industry) all praying for it to get back DOWN to $60 a barrel!

 

Huh, guess we're not praying so much for this anymore.

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Oilman's Prayer

 

Lord please let there be one more oil boom,

I promise not to piss this one away.

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I was raised in the Montrose area on Sul Ross street in the fifties. The book stop was the Alabama theatre. I went to a lot of movies there. I remember a Walgreens, Wacker's, post office and a Western Auto being in that strip center. May have been others in the center, just don't remember.

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.....the "Sound of Music" played at the Alabama theatre for over a year!

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Saw this one on Chron.com the other day.  From October of 1980.  Lots of adult entertainment where we currently have our strip of bars.10-1980 Main at Congress.jpg

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How did they make Chase Tower?  I don't see a crane

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See that circle above it that looks like a water mark?

 

Aliens dude.

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8 hours ago, kbates2 said:

Saw this one on Chron.com the other day.  From October of 1980.  Lots of adult entertainment where we currently have our strip of bars.10-1980 Main at Congress.jpg

 

There are those who would suggest that the bars are adult entertainment... :ph34r:

 

As for Texas Commerce Tower / Chase / 600 Travis... at the time of the photo it's topped out.  It's reinforced concrete / steel composite; by 1980 they were cladding it with granite and glass.

 

IIRC, behind the photographer would have been The Pink Pussycat.

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Roma's pizza used to be a place called the Pink Pussycat? Fascinating

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