Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986 Page: 43
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marked that "Houston is, of course, almost
exclusively populated by people,
like Mr. Houston, Jesse Jones, who were
not born in Houston. The day I arrived I
had a splendid lunch with a group of leading
citizens; not one was Houston born."
That statement is as accurate today as
Hardly a traveler to Houston in the last
generation has failed to be impressed by
Houston's everchanging skyline and the
dynamism of the city. For example, British
traveler Ernest Young in 1947 reported
that "There is nothing in Houston which
any tourist would deliberately go there to
see, but there are few places which show
the courage, imagination and industry
with which America faces big problems."
Five years later a duo of English visitors,
in a book entitled The U.S. and US, described
Houston as "a fabulous city of skyscrapers,
magnificent stores..., fine
hotels .. . and air-conditioning everywhere."
Perhaps the best example of this
view of buildings and bustle was a Holiday
Magazine book entitled American Panorama,
published in 1960. Driving in from
stately old San Antonio, the author
gasped "What a leap in time!" "Houston,"
he commented, "is so very raw and
recent, and in such a hurry, that while
most of it has outrun its own past, much
of it has not yet caught up with its own
future." And then the author gave examples
of the infrastructure not keeping
up with the growth. Continued the urban
explorer: "Not, I hasten to say, that Houston
is not an enormously exciting town
with its own bizarre beauty. I remember
vividly its brief streets of skyscrapers . . .
ending as abruptly as if cut off by an ax.
They gave me the sensation that this is a
rapidly built and still unfinished city, and
therefore a city gambling with time ....
Houston is the natural dynamo and
powerhouse of Texas. One arrives here,
and is immediately overcome with a sense
of drive and competition that one gets
nowhere else in the state. People move
faster. You get a feeling that everybody is
at least vicariously involved in the breakneck
speed of the city's success, getting a
kick by proxy out of the pervasive atmosphere
of a gold-rush gamble."
Yet the uncontrolled growth of the
mid-twentieth century left some old social
problems unsolved and created still
DALLAS BOOK & PAPER SHOW
November 1 & 2, 1986
Sat. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sun. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dallas Marriott-Market Center
2101 Stemmons Freeway
Admission $2.50-Good for both days.
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BOOKS: Texana, Americana, literature, military, sporting,
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PAPER: Postcards, maps, prints, autographs, stamps, historical
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PHOTOGRAPHIC: 19th and 20th century images.
others. Slavery had long been ended, but
segregation continued to define relations
between Whites and Blacks. Time carried
a story in 1953 about an elderly Black
woman suffering from cancer who was actually
denied admission to Houston's
famous cancer clinic (described just a
year later as "The most modem, most
ingeniously designed hospital in the
U.S ...."), and Time stories in 1960
portrayed persistent and rabid opposition
to integration. Violence was also a muchcommented
upon aspect of Houston in
1958 as in 1838, with Time labeling the
city "Murdertown, U.S.A." The social
dislocation and unease resulting from
rapid population growth contributed to
an epidemic of anti-Communism in the
1950s with Time depicting a "Cotton
Curtain" shutting Houston off from new
ideas and Harper's describing a city filled
with ill-informed "superpatriots." Thankfully
the Houston of 1986 has far better
race relations, it no longer is the murder
capital of the nation, and the increasing
cosmopolitanization of the city has progressed
to the point that daily delivery of
the once hated and feared New York Times
is common, and the city now even boasts
about Russian restaurants! Intolerance
has certainly not ended, it's now sometimes
directed at the mushrooming Oriental
population, but at least many
citizens today feel ashamed of it. One
hopes that as the city grows larger, smallmindedness
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986, periodical, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/m1/43/?rotate=270: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.