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1890 Map of Houston


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I'm really excited about an 1890 map of Houston that was added to the Library of Congress' online map collection since I last checked it. It's about the same size and has about the same level of detail as the online 1913 map. I've made a large jpg copy of the 1890 map and added it to my list of old Houston maps I've found online - it's listed as "1890 - Houston Street Map".

I haven't started studying the map yet, but I could tell in putting together the jpg that having a map this old and this large/detailed available online (thanks Library of Congress!) is a pretty big deal (at least to me - but I'm sure to a few others of you as well).

Note that in the bottom right corner of the map, it states "FACTS COMPILED TO JULY 1st, 1890" and that, somewhere along the way, someone wrote a "2" over the "0". That may be the reason that the Library of Congress has listed the date as "1890?".

Anyhow, the 1913 map has generated so much discussion in various threads - and I always like reading notes about details I missed - that I thought it might be good to have a thread for the 1890 map.

Update - some quick observations:

What is now Washington Cemetery is labeled "Deutsche Gesellschaft" (the cemetery was started by the Deutsche Gesellschaft von Houston, a group of German businessmen, and renamed Washington Cemetery in 1918 because of anti-German sentiment in the WWI time period) - on the 1913 map, it's labeled "German Cemetery".

Frostown looks to be relatively new - there aren't any street names listed - and there is a large building across the bayou, next to the Crystal Ice Factory, labeled "Bayou City Press" - I don't think I've heard of it before. [The Bayou City Press was apparently for cotton pressing, as was the "Peoples' Compress".]

Old City Cemetery is on there, and already called Old City Cemetery.

There's a "Peoples' Compress" and a "Citizens Electric Light" shown.

The water works (in the approximate location of where the aquarium annex is now) are labeled "Water Works Artesian Wells" - reminding me of this article.

A street in the Old Sixth Ward that is labeled as "Moore" in the 1913 map is labeled here as "Nicarauga".

Edited by tmariar
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very cool. Apparently, I live right on top of what used to be the Texas & Western RR line. It doesnt appear on the 1913 map and I had never seen it before.

I remember reading something somewhere about a railroad that used to go through part of what is now Montrose - I think it had something to do with a road that was called "Mound Street" and is now part of W. Alabama. I can't find it, but will keep looking. It was on a site where people were discussing Houston railroad history, I think.

Update: Very frustrating - I can't find the original source. All I have are my notes: "Alabama Street through Montrose (in which it is designated W. Alabama Street) very likely traces the route of a narrow-gauge railroad that once ran from Houston to Sugarland. Once it became a road, it was known for a short time in the early 1900's as Mound Avenue or Ross Avenue (depending on the map) before being renamed as a western extension of Alabama Street." I know the proposal to change Mound/Ross to West Alabama was made in 1910. Don't know if that's even the railroad you meant, but it reminded me of the old railroad through Montrose.

Edited by tmariar
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Great find - there is a little piece of realigned Artesian Place left by the water works here...in the 1890 map it's the street to the north of the soap works (Menger Soap Co. at one point) but today it is the street to the west of the stove works (Cushman St. back then and at one point home of Cushman's Foundry).

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I hadn't heard of Wright's Flower Garden, either, which is shown bordered by Glenwood Cemetery. There are references to it in old newspapers between 1887 and 1912, but nothing that really gives any description. The last reference I found to it is in January 1912. The newspaper says that the city had posted earnest money on the property, with the intention of building a new Sixth Ward School there (for upper grades, with the Dow School building at Washington and Ash being retained for lower grades). But Sixth Ward residents apparently opposed the plan, and were circulating petitions to stop it - the article doesn't say why. From the 1913 map, it looks like this parcel of property ultimately just became an extension of the Sixth Ward.

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I remember reading something somewhere about a railroad that used to go through part of what is now Montrose - I think it had something to do with a road that was called "Mound Street" and is now part of W. Alabama. I can't find it, but will keep looking. It was on a site where people were discussing Houston railroad history, I think.
The only RR I recall going into Montrose is the one paralleling the SW Fwy. You can see it on the
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I'm confused about Frostown as it pre-dated Houston itself. So why no street names? :huh:

You know, I shouldn't have said it looked new because I knew Frostown was about as old as Houston (you may know more than I do if you know it predates Houston)... it just looked new to me on the map because there weren't street names. But, having looked more, there are several other places on the map where street names are missing. Maybe the real estate agent (also alderman for a few years) who made the map wasn't as concerned about marking areas of town where he was unlikely to be making sales?

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You know, I shouldn't have said it looked new because I knew Frostown was about as old as Houston (you may know more than I do if you know it predates Houston)... it just looked new to me on the map because there weren't street names. But, having looked more, there are several other places on the map where street names are missing. Maybe the real estate agent (also alderman for a few years) who made the map wasn't as concerned about marking areas of town where he was unlikely to be making sales?

Frost Town doesn't predate Houston. My understanding of its history is that it came into existence at about the same time the rest of the city was founded and developed in the 1830s and 1840s, and it was what people in those times called "the negro quarter".

For many decades of the 19th and the 20th centuries, blacks were forced to live in ghettos, completely separated from the white parts of town.

There was another "negro quarter" just west of downtown along San Felipe (now West Dallas). It was where a number of freed slaves lived after the Civil War, which is why it's still known as Freedmen's Town.

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Here's some info re the beginnings of Frostown - looks to me like it was settled just before Houston:

Handbook of Texas Online - While named for the Frost family, who arrived in the 1830's, it was settled in 1822 by non-Germans (as far as I can tell by the names), and had 20 inhabitants by 1826. "Between the late 1820s and the 1840s, Germans began settling in the area, and the settlement was called simultaneously Germantown and Frostown."

Louis F. Aulbach, "Before there was Houston, there was Frostown": "Having abandoned their attempts to purchase the burned town site of Harrisburg, the Allen's moved to a small community that had developed on high ground in a horseshoe curve of Buffalo Bayou about 1 mile below the junction of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou. From this community that was called Germantown because of the many Germans living there, the Allen brothers conceived the plan for a town named in honor the great Texian general Sam Houston and they negotiated [in August 1836] the purchase of the land south of Buffalo Bayou around the junction of White Oak Bayou from Mrs. Elizabeth Parrott for $5,000."

Frosttownhistoricsite.org - The Frost family bought 15 acres from the Allen brothers in 1837 and divided it into lots, and had sold 66 of 96 total by April 1839. Many were sold to German families.

FilioScotia - I'm familiar with the history of Freedmen's Town, but hadn't ever heard that there was a concentration of freed slaves in Frostown. Is there somewhere I can read more about that? My impression was that it was almost exclusively German in the 1800's.

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Check out that land labeled Meinecke, Gibbs, and Mason. Those plots correspond to the area west of Montrose where the streets go off the north-south grid, correct? I'm guessing those families owned that land well before the rest of "far southwest" Houston was plotted out.

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Check out that land labeled Meinecke, Gibbs, and Mason. Those plots correspond to the area west of Montrose where the streets go off the north-south grid, correct? I'm guessing those families owned that land well before the rest of "far southwest" Houston was plotted out.

Yep, that area includes what is present-day Cherryhurst Subdivision.

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Once again, Thanks tmariar for the link & heads up. Found the portable house factory listing interesting, great detailed map.

Read somewhere that Germans kept very good historical records. Many German names on that particular map.

Edited by NenaE
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Actually, it does predate Houston. At least according to This Article

I stand corrected, and I thank you for that. I had always thought Frostown came into existence when that Frost family moved here in the late 1830s and put their name on the land they bought. I wasn't aware that people were already living there when the Frosts got there.

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I stand corrected, and I thank you for that. I had always thought Frostown came into existence when that Frost family moved here in the late 1830s and put their name on the land they bought. I wasn't aware that people were already living there when the Frosts got there.

Frost Town came from Frost...people were around there near by that location from 1822 and that is true. Frost Town came in with the Frost settlement of the family and Hodge was allready there accross what became Gable Street. We think the Frost came in and made a verbal arrangement with Allen's and then fought with others at San Jacinto...after the battle...Frost and Moody made joining developments.

Frost Town was first purchased by anglos and then sold off to mostly German's...after significant time..a mix of culture moved in...yes blacks figure into this also...and the Italian...then a heavy volume of Mexican's, new Americans came to move into the Frost/Moody area to include the old Schrimpf's Field..at one period known as the Barrio De AlaCran.

Many pictures of Schrimp's Alley show blacks on the street and on the stoops..a picture of Frost Town showing the viaduct in the background had a number of blacks in the image.

Anglo Settlers, German's, Blacks and Mexican's along with a few Italian families made a big cultural impression. Blacks were with Frost in the early settlement as slaves then as residents.

The lives of regular people and how they cope with Houston should be something to research.

I bet all of them would have something to teach us if we could travel in time and sit with them on the dirt streets of Frost Town.

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