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Brunsville - Old Subdivision Near The Ship Channel

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gnu    53

I have a question i have been trying to answer for several years.

I collect old maps and have noticed these oval shapes appearing in various road maps and topo maps from the twenties through the fifties.

This is an area near the Ship Channel about Clinton and the East Loop.

Here is a copy from a Sanborn map from about 1926 and then an aerial from Google.

Note all the streets are not still present and some of the current names have changed.

The two pics are roughly the same scale.

brunsville_1926.jpgbrunsville_2002.jpg

I thought maybe oil storage tanks, a racetrack, detention, or a very large sewage treatment facility.

But it is never labelled on any maps like those items sometime are. I have even looked at the original brunsville plats. The curved streets are there but they don't offer any clue to why they make an oval.

I have been out to the site and have looked at current aerial photography and cannot find any remnants of anything that remotely resembles these ovals and circles other than the slight curves in the road around the large outer oval (teal and sol at borden)

The subdivision is now a bunch of shacks, light industrial, and water detention (at the very north end).

And, as you can see from the aerial, the structures now fill in most of what was the oval interior.

Does anyone have any clues as to what this was? Not that I have any personal interest in the area, it was just an unusual thing on my maps...THAT HAS BEEN DRIVING ME CRAZY!!! :lol:

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dbigtex56    172

In the old map, you'll notice that almost all of the east-west streets are named after U.S. presidents (Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland).

Since many of these street names were already taken within the City of Houston, I assume that this land had not yet been annexed by the city. The only existing east-west street which still bears the same name is Borden, which runs for only one lonely little block and has no obvious ties to any existing streets further east or west. Obviously, Mississippi and Tite Streets assumed their names from the Clinton Park neighborhood (just east of present-day Loop 610.) Hard to tell which president got kicked out to create Mississippi Street. Does the old map have a scale (1"=x feet)? Also, what's the east-west line just above Tite Street on the aerial? a railroad? a ditch?

Looks to be a subdivision which was platted, but never built. The ovals could have been land set aside for a park.

Might be a coincidence, but did you know that the person who mapped out the original street grid for downtown Houston was named Borden?

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gnu    53
In the old map, you'll notice that almost all of the east-west streets are named after U.S. presidents (Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland).

Since many of these street names were already taken within the City of Houston, I assume that this land had not yet been annexed by the city. The only existing east-west street which still bears the same name is Borden, which runs for only one lonely little block and has no obvious ties to any existing streets further east or west. Obviously, Mississippi and Tite Streets assumed their names from the Clinton Park neighborhood (just east of present-day Loop 610.) Hard to tell which president got kicked out to create Mississippi Street. Does the old map have a scale (1"=x feet)? Also, what's the east-west line just above Tite Street on the aerial? a railroad? a ditch?

Looks to be a subdivision which was platted, but never built. The ovals could have been land set aside for a park.

Might be a coincidence, but did you know that the person who mapped out the original street grid for downtown Houston was named Borden?

It could have been set aside for a park but that does not explain what the ovals and circles are that are drawn onto various maps. Why would gas company city road maps show ovals and circles that are not roads??? Most gas company city maps also label items of significance from parks to schools to golf courses to ballparks. No map I have seen labels this oval. Even Sanborn doesn't identify it.

The latest map that I have with the oval on it is a late 40's street map and it is not in the city limits. It still has all the streets that the 1926 Sanborn map does plus the railroad. Cleveland was linked to Mississippi. Tite corresponds to Hayes. The railroad is the HB&T and it runs between Hayes and Grant streets.

The subdivision used to extend farther south across Clinton and down to the Ship Channel. The Navigation District acquired most of that property in 1931 - along with most of the northern part above Lincoln St. The Navigation District also acquired miscellaneous other parcels in the addition between 1953 and 1961.

Some of the land was later sold or ceded to an entity called the Turning Basin Industrial District in 1964.

Then you have the TxDot getting some of the land for 610 in the late 60's and early 70's.

The inside of the oval was replatted as Clintonview Addition in about 1950. That is when the current street grid appears.

So my interest is not in a subdivision that never amounted to much but in the oval itself.

No map or plat that I have ever run across has ever provided a clue to what the "crop circles" were and why they show up on maps for 30 odd years.

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dbigtex56    172
It could have been set aside for a park but that does not explain what the ovals and circles are that are drawn onto various maps. Why would gas company city road maps show ovals and circles that are not roads??? Most gas company city maps also label items of significance from parks to schools to golf courses to ballparks. No map I have seen labels this oval. Even Sanborn doesn't identify it.

The latest map that I have with the oval on it is a late 40's street map and it is not in the city limits. It still has all the streets that the 1926 Sanborn map does plus the railroad. Cleveland was linked to Mississippi. Tite corresponds to Hayes. The railroad is the HB&T and it runs between Hayes and Grant streets.

The subdivision used to extend farther south across Clinton and down to the Ship Channel. The Navigation District acquired most of that property in 1931 - along with most of the northern part above Lincoln St. The Navigation District also acquired miscellaneous other parcels in the addition between 1953 and 1961.

Some of the land was later sold or ceded to an entity called the Turning Basin Industrial District in 1964.

Then you have the TxDot getting some of the land for 610 in the late 60's and early 70's.

The inside of the oval was replatted as Clintonview Addition in about 1950. That is when the current street grid appears.

So my interest is not in a subdivision that never amounted to much but in the oval itself.

No map or plat that I have ever run across has ever provided a clue to what the "crop circles" were and why they show up on maps for 30 odd years.

My gosh.

I can see you've put a lot of thought and research into this question. I cheerfully abandon my notion that this was simply a neighborhood park. As you already know, an oval on a map usually denotes a racetrack - but why the three concentric circles at either end? It also occured to me that it might be a railroad roundhouse - but that seems unlikely. Why should there be a pair of them?

A couple of questions: in the other places where you've seen similar ovals on maps, do they also show the three concentric circle designs at each end - or just the oval? Are they primarily in residential or industrial neighborhoods (this one appears to be a bit of both)?

If all else fails, I'll email my cousin the surveyor...maybe we can drive him crazy, too. ;)

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RedScare    1636

It could have been a drawing of a proposed element, such as a reflecting pool with a fountain on either end, that was never completed. Of course, I am assuming this is a plat, as opposed to a map of completed streets and parks. If it is a completed map, you would expect that something was actually there, since removed.

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gnu    53
My gosh.

I can see you've put a lot of thought and research into this question. I cheerfully abandon my notion that this was simply a neighborhood park. As you already know, an oval on a map usually denotes a racetrack - but why the three concentric circles at either end? It also occured to me that it might be a railroad roundhouse - but that seems unlikely. Why should there be a pair of them?

A couple of questions: in the other places where you've seen similar ovals on maps, do they also show the three concentric circle designs at each end - or just the oval? Are they primarily in residential or industrial neighborhoods (this one appears to be a bit of both)?

If all else fails, I'll email my cousin the surveyor...maybe we can drive him crazy, too. ;)

Okay I have become a little fanatical about it :) Actually I have been looking at it for several years. Working on it periodically when I run across another possible reference source. I just got another map the other day with it shown, so that reignited my interest this time.

Just to clarify, I have only seen THESE ovals on maps...just on lots of different maps.

They always show the outer oval (which is actually the streets) the inner oval (racetrack?) and the two concentric circle foci (oooh cool word) on either end.

Redscare, it could have been a proposed element, but those are usually labelled even on gas co. maps.

and the scale of those relecting pools would have been very large. Especially in an area that wasn't "up and coming".

Now it could have just been something that was never built (i personally think this) from the original plat (early twenties - i think) that cartographers just carried through from year to year - and not being local and not knowing it wasn't there just kept including it - but what was it supposed to be???. You would think if someone is drawing a map, and there is something unusual on it, they might want to label it.

The old plat I have seen shows the streets that curve around the oval but make no mention of the center. Even the appraisal district info seems lacking.

What bugs me too is that the Sanborn Company (since they are in the insurance biz) usually label everything, and they have no labels on it. And I think they had guys on the ground in the actual place.

But since the area wasn't in the city limits until the Fifties, maybe they just included it in their book for reference and didn't actually send anyone there.

Maybe its an early top secret supercollider!! :lol:

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Subdude    1286

I looked on my 1939 maps and they are there - two circles and an oval, but not labeled, and without the concentric rings. On my 1956 map the street grid has moved through the bottom half of the oval and the inside elements are gone. On the 1966 map it looks like today. I'm guessing the area was a park, since on the 1939 map the main north-south street was named Parkview. Still, that doesn't explain what the internal features were. At first I also thought maybe pools, but they would be pretty large. Was there a school nearby? The inside oval looks just like a running track, although that still wouldn't be shown on maps.

This stuff is so interesting, at least to the geeks here among us. Tomorrow I'm driving out there to check it out. Maybe we should start organizing HAIF field trips, to places like this and old motels. :D

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Subdude    1286
Kinda reminds me of the transit center in Bellaire.

Makes sense. On one of the maps there were tracks going through, but they don't show on the Sanborn map posted.

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gnu    53
Makes sense. On one of the maps there were tracks going through, but they don't show on the Sanborn map posted.

The tracks came later. Here is a later Sanborn map from '46-ish. I included the northern section of presidential streets that were taken by the Navigation District. (and is now detention)

Garfield cuts through the oval in this version. You can also see the western edge of Clinton Park addition.

And you can see how they typically label things like the Park in the lower right. and (sorry i truncated it) a Humble Refinery Tank Farm on the top left. BTW. the map is slightly corrupted on the bottom of the oval - probably from the pasting they would do when Sanborn updated their books or from when they scanned the page.

brunville_46.jpg

Good luck on site. I didnt see any obvious signs of it - probably since it was replatted and filled in. Maybe you should take a geiger counter!

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eelimon    0
e.

brunville_46.jpg

this reminds me of my neighborhood, a new development, City Park off West Orem and 288. It is Modeled after an early turn of the century neighborhood or a mid century community with a central green space, main streets that run in front of the house and alleys. Here you can clearly see the Oval Park with streets that follow the circle

idf5ux.jpg

Edited by eelimon

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Here's a possible wild goose chase for you.

The Woodson Research Center at Rice's Fondren Library has an archive of Judge Harris Masterson's papers, mostly between 1880 and 1920. He "dealt largely with land litigation and investments in Harris and surrounding counties."

"Masterson set up several land corporations with his brother A.R. Masterson and son Neill. Two of these were the Texas Town Lot & Improvement Company and the Houston Town Lot & Improvement Company. Although these companies on occasion contracted to build houses on the land they sold, their primary function was to buy large tracts of land and break them into smaller lots. Much of this land was sold to what would today be called the middle and lower class people of Houston."

Here's the possibly interesting part. Box 223, Folder 15 of the archives is listed as "Brunsville, Town of".

Here's the website:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ricewrc/001...ce-00134p3.html

Now for the bad news. The research center is closed for renovations until February, though there may be some limited access.

Happy researching.

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Subdude    1286
Good luck on site. I didnt see any obvious signs of it - probably since it was replatted and filled in. Maybe you should take a geiger counter!

Or a hazmat suit! :D

I know there won't be any obvious signs, I just want to get a feel for the scale of the place. Whatever the oval was, in the map it appears they ran Garfield right through it, so that takes care of the fountain/pool theory. Per "Houston Electric", there weren't any streetcar lines or carbarns there.

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Subdude    1286
Good luck on site. I didnt see any obvious signs of it - probably since it was replatted and filled in. Maybe you should take a geiger counter!

My curiosity got the better of me and I drove out there this morning. You're right Gnu, there aren't any obvious signs of what was there. Whatever the oval and circular things were, they must have been big. Those are relatively large lots.

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The Woodson Research Center at Rice's Fondren Library is now open. It has an archive of Judge Harris Masterson's papers, mostly between 1880 and 1920 dealing with land litigation and investments in Harris and surrounding counties. Box 223, Folder 15 of the archives is listed as "Brunsville, Town of". The website is:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ricewrc/001...ce-00134p3.html

Is Gnu still interested? Is it worth a trip to the Library or are you all hands-on field types?

If anyone has some software for removing haze from photos, there may even be some hints in these from the Bob Bailey Studios. The one with the Aircraft Carrier is from 1952 and the other is from 1949. Brunsville is in the distant background of both photos.

e_bb_0035_pub.jpg

e_bb_0034_pub.jpg

Good luck.

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torvald    0
brunsville_1926.jpgbrunsville_2002.jpg

so i guess this is pretty general but my gut feeling would say that something physical was actually there as the circles within the oval are drawn differently and at different sizes and spacing --- that's pretty much a layman's opinion but why go through the trouble of drafting something that way? i'm sure i'd be surprised though, right?

my other guesses as a layman would be that the circles within the oval are paved roundabouts or the actual ovall is a neighborhood park with covered pavilions for a flea market/fair/amusements sort of thing... hooray for small mysteries!

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Subdude    1286

I am going to email her and see if she has any scoop. B)

Got back a quick reply.. She does not know anything about the neighborhood.

Edited by Subdude

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gnu    53
I am going to email her and see if she has any scoop. B)

Got back a quick reply.. She does not know anything about the neighborhood.

nice try subdude! maybe we should turn her in for theft of city property! >:):P

I am gonna have to find a way to make it up to the Rice Library and check out what they have in their files.

It's just a little hard to do with a two-year old in tow...24/7 :D

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brucesw    34

What's the time frame for the establishment of Brunsville? When were streets laid out, houses built, etc?

Have you ever looked in old newspapers from that time period for any news stories?

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gnu    53

In the first photo, the subdiv would be somewhere in the top left corner - to the left of clinton. too far back though to get any details.

In the second photo, Judging from the RR (if it is in the same place as current tracks) and Clinton it would seem to me that it would have to be the cleared tract between the clinton and the RR - the third parcel from where the tracks vear due west.

Can you really make out an oval???

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sevfiv    1344

okay, so i couldn't clear up the pictures too much, but in the faaar distance of one, i am going to pretend that it's the oval...heh

on another note, here is a piece of a 1942 map, from texasfreeway.com (link):

clinton001.jpg

not that this helps anything, but still :wacko:

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gnu    53
not that this helps anything, but still :wacko:

yeah..i have seen the ovals on that map before...

and i saw the ovals again on a 1954 street map just the other day.

it just keeps taunting me!!!

where is google maps 1940 edition??? :P

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