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Brunsville - Old Subdivision Near The Ship Channel

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The aerial photo you showed is not the neighborhood shown on that diagram. The neighborhood you're looking for, with all the streets named after presidents, is several miles west of there back toward the Turning Basin. It's north of Clinton Drive, on both sides of North McCarty Drive. You'll find it in the Key Map on page 495, squares J, K, N, and P. The area in the diagram is 495-U.

Interestingly, the only current streets with the same names as the diagram are Garfield and Buchanan. They're six blocks apart on the diagram and on the Key Map. All the other street names have been changed.

Now that we know the site that old diagram represents, you can also see on the Key Map that it's right up against the Port Authority Railroad Yard, where my father worked in the 50s and 60s. So we can surmise that those circles and ovals had something to do with the railroad.

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So we can surmise that those circles and ovals had something to do with the railroad.

Like a locomotive turntable....

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The aerial photo you showed is not the neighborhood shown on that diagram. The neighborhood you're looking for, with all the streets named after presidents, is several miles west of there back toward the Turning Basin. It's north of Clinton Drive, on both sides of North McCarty Drive. You'll find it in the Key Map on page 495, squares J, K, N, and P. The area in the diagram is 495-U.

Interestingly, the only current streets with the same names as the diagram are Garfield and Buchanan. They're six blocks apart on the diagram and on the Key Map. All the other street names have been changed.

Now that we know the site that old diagram represents, you can also see on the Key Map that it's right up against the Port Authority Railroad Yard, where my father worked in the 50s and 60s. So we can surmise that those circles and ovals had something to do with the railroad.

I am not sure which aeriel you are referring to.

If you go back to the first post you will see a current map next to the ovals depicted on an old map. The Keymap area shown there would be in 495U and it is now called Clintonview. This is where Brunsville and the ovals were. Borden and Teal streets are still extant on both maps.

Also look at post 14 and you can see a later map which shows Clinton Park addition on the right.

You can see that Cleveland became Missisippi St (also shown in post 38)

So you can tell that Brunsville was not at McCarty. I also have a 1954 map that still shows the ovals and labels Brunsville in the area of 495u and labels the Port Houston neighborhood around McCarty.

If you meant by aerial, the B&W photos in post 22: The top picture looks southeast down clinton at the turning basin and the bottom photo looks more easterly at the turning basin. both roughly clinton at mccarty. the bottom shot clearly shows the railroad track that bisects brunsville and thus the neighborhood should be visible in the photo. The neighborhood you are referring to around McCarty (Port Houston) would be out of the photos to the left.

It might have been something to do with the railroad but i dont think they were tracks since they are depicted differently on the maps and it does not connect to the railroad.

Still looking for answers....

Edited by gnu

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I am not sure which aeriel you are referring to.

If you go back to the first post you will see a current map next to the ovals depicted on an old map. The Keymap area shown there would be in 495U and it is now called Clintonview. This is where Brunsville and the ovals were. Borden and Teal streets are still extant on both maps.

Also look at post 14 and you can see a later map which shows Clinton Park addition on the right.

You can see that Cleveland became Missisippi St (also shown in post 38)

So you can tell that Brunsville was not at McCarty. I also have a 1954 map that still shows the ovals and labels Brunsville in the area of 495u and labels the Port Houston neighborhood around McCarty.

If you meant by aerial, the B&W photos in post 22: The top picture looks southeast down clinton at the turning basin and the bottom photo looks more easterly at the turning basin. both roughly clinton at mccarty. the bottom shot clearly shows the railroad track that bisects brunsville and thus the neighborhood should be visible in the photo. The neighborhood you are referring to around McCarty (Port Houston) would be out of the photos to the left.

It might have been something to do with the railroad but i dont think they were tracks since they are depicted differently on the maps and it does not connect to the railroad.

Still looking for answers....

You're right. A closer study of the aerial photo and that incredible 1942 map someone supplied a link for shows clearly that the oval and circles were in the area of that photo at one time. The street names haven't changed, but that area certainly has. Sorry about that.

Even more amazing, for me, is seeing on that 1942 map clear proof that the Gulf Freeway was in the planning stages even then. They didn't start building it until several years after WWII, but it was on the drawing boards for a long time.

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You're right. A closer study of the aerial photo and that incredible 1942 map someone supplied a link for shows clearly that the oval and circles were in the area of that photo at one time. The street names haven't changed, but that area certainly has. Sorry about that.

Even more amazing, for me, is seeing on that 1942 map clear proof that the Gulf Freeway was in the planning stages even then. They didn't start building it until several years after WWII, but it was on the drawing boards for a long time.

No problem.

Yeah, that old planning map is pretty neat. Amazing how many of those roads actually made it.

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Here is my two cents forth...

I opened up a 1950 Houston Street map which I have scanned but not yet posted on TF. The outline of the oval can be seen (mostly). The upper curve is an unnamed street. The eastern boundry is Columbus. The western boundry has Borden and James cornering together; Bower and Cleveland in a rough horseshoe; So is Arthur and Garfield. There is the NSB railroad cuts between Hays and Braynt. From here you have the upper curve. There is no "lower curve" on this map.

My guess is it was a neighborhood park.

I'll pull out the scan tonight and post a portion of it.

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Here is my two cents forth...

I opened up a 1950 Houston Street map which I have scanned but not yet posted on TF. The outline of the oval can be seen (mostly). The upper curve is an unnamed street. The eastern boundry is Columbus. The western boundry has Borden and James cornering together; Bower and Cleveland in a rough horseshoe; So is Arthur and Garfield. There is the NSB railroad cuts between Hays and Braynt. From here you have the upper curve. There is no "lower curve" on this map.

My guess is it was a neighborhood park.

I'll pull out the scan tonight and post a portion of it.

thanks, more thoughts and any information is definately appreciated.

most of the maps draw the outside oval separately from the streets that adjoin it.

as if it is a separate structure.

I could definately see it as a park but do the interior circles represent fountains or pools and interior oval a running track or a lake? And it is never named on any maps like other parks usually are.

whatever it was, were these ovals/circles ever actually constructed? they don't seem to be depicted in the b&w aerial photographs where there should be something.

Edited by gnu

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I assume they were constructed because all the maps show them, both with and without streets cutting through.

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thanks, more thoughts and any information is definately appreciated.

most of the maps draw the outside oval separately from the streets that adjoin it.

as if it is a separate structure.

I could definately see it as a park but do the interior circles represent fountains or pools and interior oval a running track or a lake? And it is never named on any maps like other parks usually are.

whatever it was, were these ovals/circles ever actually constructed? they don't seem to be depicted in the b&w aerial photographs where there should be something.

It's important to remember that, historically, this part of Houston was and still is largely neglected. It's a highly industrial area that's virtually on the banks of the Houston Ship Channel. It has always been a low income area, where the City of Houston has only recently put in public utilities like water and sewage lines.

By "recently" I mean the past several decades. This is why I seriously doubt that the large oval and concentric circles represent a park, or fountains, or pools, or a lake, and definitely not a running track. Those kinds of amenities are reserved for more affluent parts of town. That's not a racial thing. It's just the way things were, and still are to some extent.

I'm guessing that these strange circles represent something industrial.

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these neighborhoods existed when the ship channel was being built. my aunts, uncles and grandfather all moved here from tennessee for jobs. my grandfather was a welder who worked on the big 610 bridge as well as refineries. my aunts and uncles worked for refineries after ww2. these neighborhoods (manchester) existed before the ship channel. it's no surprise to me that there were street plans.

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these neighborhoods existed when the ship channel was being built. my aunts, uncles and grandfather all moved here from tennessee for jobs. my grandfather was a welder who worked on the big 610 bridge as well as refineries. my aunts and uncles worked for refineries after ww2. these neighborhoods (manchester) existed before the ship channel. it's no surprise to me that there were street plans.

My point is that these areas have always been working class blue-collar neighborhoods, and the City has never spent a lot of money on parks and other amenities, and even public utilities, in those areas.

The Houston Ship Channel was completed in 1915, long before your relatives came here for jobs during and in the years after WWII. The Ship Channel Bridge was built in the 1970s.

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Maybe they we're thinking in the wrong direction. Maybe these were above ground constructions, but below. Maybe they were pits of some kind that eventually got filled in and paved over. Or maybe they were a pair of oil drilling rigs that have since been dismantled.

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My point is that these areas have always been working class blue-collar neighborhoods, and the City has never spent a lot of money on parks and other amenities, and even public utilities, in those areas.

The Houston Ship Channel was completed in 1915, long before your relatives came here for jobs during and in the years after WWII. The Ship Channel Bridge was built in the 1970s.

True, but the initial plats of Brunsville were done sometime around or before 1920 and before the area became heavily industrialized. I sort of thought it might have been a master-planned community (i.e. land speculation) developed by Judge Masterson (see post 17) and the ovals/circles represent the centerpiece park that was NEVER built. The subdivison itself never really filled in either probably because of the industialization that eventually developed in the area. Also, It was platted in the right time period when, nationally, a lot of these interesting subdivision planning ideas were popular. It went along with the housing boom of the time.

I will have to check my maps, but I don't think the Brunsville was annexed into the Houston city limits until the 50's. So any park there would not have been city maintained. and then came the Clintonview replat in the 50's - around the time of annexation - that wiped out the ovals.

these neighborhoods existed when the ship channel was being built. my aunts, uncles and grandfather all moved here from tennessee for jobs. my grandfather was a welder who worked on the big 610 bridge as well as refineries. my aunts and uncles worked for refineries after ww2. these neighborhoods (manchester) existed before the ship channel. it's no surprise to me that there were street plans.

East end and southeast side areas like Manchester, Magnolia Park, Park Place, Allendale (i can keep naming them) were all developed before the war and before the area became heavily industrialized. Old-timers say that the war time refineries and then the post war boom is what really changed these additions dramatically and turned them into the blue collar neighborhoods with mixed in light industrial.

Maybe they we're thinking in the wrong direction. Maybe these were above ground constructions, but below. Maybe they were pits of some kind that eventually got filled in and paved over. Or maybe they were a pair of oil drilling rigs that have since been dismantled.

I initially considered it might be some sort of tank farm (or other industrial structure) but these are typically depicted differently on the maps where they both coexist. and then why would you develop a neighborhood symetrically around an industrial feature like that?? My vote is for the never fully realized master-planned community.

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But if they had never been built why would they continue to show up on maps for many years? My guess it was a park for the neighborhood. Maybe the central oval was a garden feature surrounded by a retaining wall (just a guess). Wasn't this platted out around the time of the "City Beautiful" movement?

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But if they had never been built why would they continue to show up on maps for many years? My guess it was a park for the neighborhood. Maybe the central oval was a garden feature surrounded by a retaining wall (just a guess). Wasn't this platted out around the time of the "City Beautiful" movement?

i will have to get my books out but i think it was platted during the city beautiful movement.

i figured maps are made by out of towners and maybe someone added it to an early map when it was planned and even though it was never built, other cartographers kept including it because they didnt know it had never been constructed...especially since it wasn't in the city limits proper and thus information might not have been readily available

The reason i say never is because of the b&w aerial photos. i just can't believe that features that prominent would not be visible. i guess it might have been bulldozed by then though.

Edited by gnu

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There are currently houses where the oval was supposed to have been, correct? Has anybody checked the dates of construction to see if the houses where the oval was supposed to be is more recent than the surrounding houses?

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There are currently houses where the oval was supposed to have been, correct? Has anybody checked the dates of construction to see if the houses where the oval was supposed to be is more recent than the surrounding houses?

yes. i did when i first looked at it. brunsville was replatted in 1947 (i think) and there are only a few houses (maybe 20) that are (still) there from before then.

i think i remember that there is one 1930s house on teal that backed up to what would have been the oval. the rest of the structures that are there (there are a lot of vacant lots and a lot of light industrial in the subdivision) date to 1947 or later and some of those are on the interior of the oval.

Some maps still show the ovals post 1947 (i think the latest map in which i have seen with it depicted is 1956) which might lend more evidence to the fact that the maps are wrong.

Edited by gnu

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yes. i did when i first looked at it. brunsville was replatted in 1947 (i think) and there are only a few houses (maybe 20) that are (still) there from before then.

i think i remember that there is one 1930s house on teal that backed up to what would have been the oval. the rest of the structures that are there (there are a lot of vacant lots and a lot of light industrial in the subdivision) date to 1947 or later and some of those are on the interior of the oval.

Some maps still show the ovals post 1947 which might lend more evidence to the fact that the maps are wrong.

Here's a scan from a 1968 Houston Tourguide map published by Gulf Oil Company. This map clearly shows

the area in question just to the west of the large GALENA orange square. Notice that IH610 East Loop is scheduled for Summer 1969 completion in this photo, and yet the area shows no signs of the circles anywhere. The "Maxine Street" goes completely North-South through the area in question. "Bowers" street is on here but most of the other streets are missing. The East-West street "Mississippi" as shown here appears to be a more major street as it's designated by a double-blue line. There's not even a hint of any "circles" in this map, however. The streets of "Belfield" on the circles west edge and an unnamed street on their east edge do interestingly curve inward joining "Borden" street, as if there WAS some type of obstacle these streets were built around. Clinton Park is clear on the other side of the future IH610 East construction.

IH610East.gif

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I have the ANSWER!!!!! It was a public school, Fidelity Elementery school. My 1950 Houston Street map has a marker in the "loop". Matching it to the legend gives the school map see below.

1950 Houston Street map

Houston1950.jpg

1950 Houston Street map legend

Houston1950Legend.jpg

1962 Harris County Map,

Harris1962b.jpg

1992 Harris County Map

Harris1992b.jpg,

Edited by TexasFreeway.com

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That school idea looks pretty convincing, but I have to wonder about that. School districts are notoriously slow to close and tear down old schools, and today there is absolutely no sign that a school was ever there.

I've found something else interesting. As a former employee of Houston Public Works, it occurs to me that the oval and concentric circles bear a vague resemblence to the general outline of a sewage treatment plant. So, I went to my Google satellite photo site and checked a photo of that area.

There's no sign of anything resembling a sewage plant at the Brunsville location, BUT, check out a photo of the city sewage plant located at the intersection of Hwy 225 and the East Loop 610. Hmmn. Very interesting.

It raises the possibility that the city, at one time, may have wanted a sewage plant in the Brunsville area, and it may have been on the drawing board for a long time, but maybe resistance from residents forced the city to relocate it. ??? Just a guess, but a good one, I think. The plant on 225 is only 2 miles south of the Brunsville neighborhood.

I think the idea that it might have been a master-planned community doesn't fly. Master-planned communities didn't come to this part of the country till the late 1950s, and Sharpstown was the first in this area. Also, no one would build a master-planned community that close to the Houston Ship Channel and the Port of Houston.

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My guess is that, as was suggested, the oval was a planned park that was never built. Just because it appears on maps from multiple years means nothing. When new maps are made up, most of the existing streets are drawn in as they appeared on earlier maps. Case in point is my old neighborhood.

I grew up on w 14th A few houses east of Beall, which came to an end at 14th. The street to the south of 14th is Wynnwood. Although Beall does not extend to Wynnwood, all the maps from the 50s on showed it as doing so. It would not surprise me to find a map today that still shows that error.

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I have the ANSWER!!!!! It was a public school, Fidelity Elementery school. My 1950 Houston Street map has a marker in the "loop". Matching it to the legend gives the school map see below.

1950 Houston Street map

Houston1950.jpg

now i think that map is definately wrong. i have a 1954 map that shows Fidelity Elementary on the corner of Fidelity (makes sense) between Bolden and Delaware (other side of clinton park). It does not seem to still be an active school in Galena Park ISD and from google maps it appears that a large vacant lot is on that corner today. I am not even certain that Brunsville was ever in Galena Park ISD since Clinton Park Elementary just to the east (but before fidelity) is in HISD.

I've found something else interesting. As a former employee of Houston Public Works, it occurs to me that the oval and concentric circles bear a vague resemblence to the general outline of a sewage treatment plant.

I can't go along with the sewage treatment plant. The ovals were taken into account on the original plat of Brunsville. I cannot imagine that (even back then) someone would expect to plan a neighborhood centered around a treatment plant.

I think the idea that it might have been a master-planned community doesn't fly. Master-planned communities didn't come to this part of the country till the late 1950s, and Sharpstown was the first in this area. Also, no one would build a master-planned community that close to the Houston Ship Channel and the Port of Houston.

again, we are talking about a time before the area was industrialized and the ship channel was in its infancy.

think of magnolia park and central park today. these two communties were planned nice subdivisions not meant to be a lower income working class enclave - it just developed that way as the industry developed around the relatively new ship channel.

also, when i say master planned, i didnt mean something on sharpstown's scale (if that is the type of development you are referring). Think of the heights (1896), think of river oaks (1924) with its curvilinear layout, think of garden villas (1926) with its interesting street grid that is focused on a central "square", or even park place (1914) with its circles.

My guess is that, as was suggested, the oval was a planned park that was never built. Just because it appears on maps from multiple years means nothing. When new maps are made up, most of the existing streets are drawn in as they appeared on earlier maps. Case in point is my old neighborhood.

I am leaning towards this option more and more. It seems the most plausible.

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Agreed the neighborhood wouldn't have been planned around a sewage treatment plant. :o

When the first suburbs were built there wasn't an idea that the East Side would become more industrial than the west. I believe Magnolia Park was one of the first planned subdivisions, and the Houston Country Club was built on the East Side (now Gus Wortham Park).

The park idea makes a lot of sense. In San Francisco there was a similar "city beautiful" oval neighborhood park called South Park. I would still love to know for sure what the circles were, or were meant to be.

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