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IronTiger

Visiting the library archives

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I'll be going to Houston on Tuesday for an interview, and I'm thinking about going to downtown since it's not very far away from where my interview will be (for reference, less than 4 miles by road). My current plan is to grab lunch in the tunnels but also spend some time in the archives where old directories and what not are kept. Problem is, I don't know where this place is exactly or what times they are open, and I don't know where I can safely park my car and have a reasonable chance of something bad happening to it (towed, broken into, etc.)

 

The last time me and a colleague parked in Houston, it was a Saturday and we found a relatively empty parking garage but had to pay a few dollars in cash anyway. If it's a weekday, I imagine the price will be even higher.

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Or park in a surface lot over by The Toyota cneter/GRB. During the week those lots will be loaded with office employee cars and are quite safe. Hoof the 8 blocks to the library.

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Everything you need to know about parking in Downtown Houston:

 

http://downtownhouston.org/resource/parking/

 

(Friendly tip: Often on-street parking can be had without too much circling for much cheaper than a garage--and is free after 6p if you're ever headed to an Astros or Rockets game and don't mind walking a few blocks.)

 

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I'm surprised they don't have an online database for all the archives and what not. What exactly are you looking for, if you don't mind me asking?

Well, mostly to look for directories from before the age of the Internet and after sevfiv's archives. Headliners include the following:

1) What was Exclusive Furniture at 290 and Jones? It sure looks like it was a supermarket and was built in the early 1980s, but the Houston Chronicle archives (that I access with my library card I got mailed-in) don't have the answer. Sometimes Googling the address works, sometimes it does not. (HAIF did not help either)

2) Where were the Safeway/AppleTree stores, and what were their store numbers? There are at least 26 stores unaccounted for between the initial round of closings in 1992 and when the chain was split up in late 1993. Granted, some of these could be in Austin (one of them was a Waco location for sure), but there were at least a handful in Houston, including near Kieth Harrow and Highway 6 (near the K-Mart), and where Más Club was.

Those are at least the bigger questions I want answered. I'll probably discover something else cool there too. Hopefully I can share some cool stuff.

Edited by IronTiger
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Should be in the Julia Ideson building second floor, at the southwest corner of Smith and McKinney. That's the archive at any rate, or they may just be in the main building next door. It might be possible to find a metered parallel parking space around City Hall or Tranquility Park on the next block north. I would try circling around a little (70/30 chance in my experience), otherwise park in the garage underneath the library (enter from Lamar), it's not expensive and you are supporting the library. Parking over there is really a lot easier than people make it out to be. Ignore the advice to park all the way over near Toyota Center or GRB, I don't see any reason why you would do that.

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otherwise park in the garage underneath the library (enter from Lamar), it's not expensive and you are supporting the library.

 

I would guess that's not true. Even the library fines go directly to the general fund, and not to the library.

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I'm back from my trip! I did visit the archives for a few hours, and did get a large part of what I wanted to know, except what "Exclusive Furniture" was. Maybe they built it later. In a few 1980s directories, the number wasn't even covered. Bummer.

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I think we are all wanting to hear where you parked.

I parked in the garage, but getting to downtown was another issue. First, I had to drive down Commerce and was on the part where the railroad spur runs down the street (deep down, I was secretly hoping that there would be some activity, as that would at least make a neat shot), then got stuck, I think, at the Fannin intersection (and I hoped I wouldn't get ticketed by a cop for blocking the intersection, I know I heard a siren turn on), then had to make sure not to repeat that incident at Main (otherwise, it'd be the end of ol' IT). I ended up parking in the garage partially because it was raining, and I eventually found myself into the parking garage below ground (and almost had to go back out of the parking lot, because I turned into the loading dock). Then I missed the lobby, so I had to get out through this grimy staircase.

In the end I paid $4 for about an hour and a half, I think.

I circled around the block because I missed the garage entrance, and part of that was because the bike lane (with cool zebra-patterned curbs to prevent cars getting in the lane) caught my eye.

Edited by IronTiger

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Shoot, if I would've seen this earlier, there is free on-street parking on Sabine, just across the bayou. You walk through Sam Houston Park and you're at the library.  :)

Edited by The Pragmatist

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