Notes and Documents
GEORGE M. FUERMANN*
D DURING THE PERIOD BETWEEN 1880 AND 1910, THE DATES OF THIS
photographic essay, Houston began a long period of municipal
adolescence. The city, which was forty-three years old in 188o, had
already passed one of the critical periods of its growth-the half
decade from 1857 to 1861, when it became the center of railroad
transportation in Texas. And during the last third of the 1880-19 10o
period the city experienced a second critical era with the blowing in
of the Lucas gusher at Spindletop in 190go1.
For more contrast, one photograph is dated before the period in
focus and one afterward, but Houston, whose metropolitan popu-
lation would exceed 1,6oo,ooo in 1967, had a population of 16,5183
in 188os and nearly five times that in 1910o, when the population
was 78,800. Part of the growth derived from the zeal with which
promoters in Texas and especially in the Midwest tried to persuade
Americans to move to Texas during these three decades. "Texas
Land EXCURSION! . . . March 5th, 1907 . . . . From Minneapolis,
Minn., To Houston, Texas," says the big type on a broadside. "Take
a trip with us," the smaller type goes on to say, "to where happy
farmers are picking strawberries every day while we fellows are
suffering 20 below zero."'
Of those marvels that would in good time be known also as tor-
ments, only the telephone preceded the period in 1878. The others,
excepting only radio and television, were novelties of the three
*Mr. Fuermann is a columnist for the Houston Post and the author of several books
on Texas and Houston. They include Reluctant Empire, The Face of Houston, Houston:
Land of the Big Rich, and Houston: The Feast Years. The photographs accompanying
Mr. Fuermann's article are from the George M. Fuermann Collection, Houston.
'Andrew Forest Muir, "Railroads Come to Houston, 1857-1861," Southwestern Historical
Quarterly, LXIV (July, 1960), 42.
*U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Tenth Census of the United States: x88o. Population
(Washington, 1883), Vol. I, 344.
8U.S. Bureau of the Census, The Twelfth Census of the United States: 19ro. Population
(Washington, 1913), Vol. III, 784.
'George M. Fuermann Collection (Houston).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed December 21, 2014.