The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961

Railroads Come to Joausto,
1857-1861
ANDREW FOREST MUIR
A CRITICAL PERIOD in the development of Houston-a later
A one was the decade following the blowing in of the Lucas
gusher at Spindletop in 19go -was the half decade from
1857 to 1861 when it became the center of railroad transporta-
tion in Texas. During those five years Houston was transformed
from a commercial town into a commercial city, but the trans-
formation was limited. The city did not, in any sense, become
then a seat of learning, culture, and the fine arts, and, perhaps,
after almost a century, has not yet become such.
In 1857, Houston sprawled untidily on the south bank of
Buffalo Bayou and encroached for a few hundred yards into the
dense woods on the north bank. Its principal gridiron, turned
35 3o' clockwise from the compass points, and called, for the lack
of a better name, SSBB (south side of Buffalo Bayou) -the orig-
inal townsite on the John Austin Survey and extensions of it into
the James Wells, James S. Holman, and Obedience Smith surveys-
embraced 563 blocks. The town ran from the bayou southward to
Hadley Avenue and from York Street westward to Bagby. All of
the east-west streets, with the exception of Magnolia (the present
Ruiz) were named as they are in 196o, including the misspelling
of what started to be Leland Avenue.' The north-south streets,
from the western periphery of the gridiron to well east of Main
Street, were also named as they are in 1960, including the mis-
spelling of what originally was LaBranche Street,2 but in the area
to the eastward six streets have undergone change of name in the
interval. West Broadway long ago became Hutchins; Broadway,
iThe street was named for William W. Leland, sometime proprietor of the
Metropolitan Hotel in New York. See Deed Records of Harris County, Texas (MS.,
County Clerk's Office, Houston), U, 573.
2The street was named for Alc6e Louis LaBranche (1806-1861), United States
charge d'affaires to Texas, 1837-1840.-Biographical Directory of the American
Congress, 1774-1949 (Washington, 1950), 1427.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/. Accessed August 2, 2014.