Research Update

Last time I was at the Briscoe I spent the whole time sifting through old newspaper film. I stumbled across a citizen’s opinion about how the city of Houston needed to get it’s act together and pave some roads instead of trying to find a company to do it for them since that had not been working. However it appears the city was eventually able to pawn off the responsibility by forcing the electric car company to pave their roads. I’m going to continue going through newspapers tomorrow and will also be looking in the directories to see what year W. L. Macate started his cement supply business. I think that the city council conspired to force the streetcar company to pave the roads for them. The resulting expenses caused the railcars to go out of business but their newly built roads were quickly exploited by the emergence of automobiles.

W. L. Macate, the Man That Runs Houston

              Well, I woke up at 9:50 and saw that we had a blog post due at 10 am so I’m going to pretend daylight savings time has not started yet meaning this is on time. So far, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that our research project into the hell-hole that is Houston is not only proceeding swimmingly, but that we are actually uncovering some genuine mysteries. Digging through the archives is a lot like solving puzzles and I think this project will be an extremely fun ride.

               So far, I am leaning between two possible avenues to pursue for my project. One would be a broad interactive map of my block were the viewer clicks any of the  buildings in my area, and a summary of the place with accompanying pictures, articles, and references pops up. I would decide on one time period to focus on for this.  I think this would be cool because people could get an expansive idea of the role my area played in Houston at this time.

               My other idea I like more but I need to do more research to see if my hypothesis is accurate. In the early 1900’s, the Houston electric company changed from an electric streetcar company to just the electric company. At the same time as the switch from streetcar to electric company happened, a local entrepreneur with a large cement distributing business, W. L. Macate, experienced a boom in his business. I would like to investigate whether forces conspired to shut down the streetcar business, in order to replace them with buses which create higher revenue. At the same time, W. L. Macate might have stepped in to provide the city with cement for their newly paved roads. Conspiracies abound!

               Macate’s business is right next to the Houston electric company. At the same time, the Houston electric company straddles the train tracks and is right next to the Houston Gas company. My team is hoping to find out if the Houston gas company took over the electric company, and at the same time powers it. I also intend to do a little digging to find out if the Globe Hotel, an establishment that goes all the way back to the 1885 Sanborn collection, has had anything interesting like a murder or clown convention happen in it’s history.

               I’m most likely going to go with the second idea and I really hope there is some meat to the story when I explore it. I can’t wait for Monday, the archivists are extremely helpful and have already offered me some insightful thoughts that led me to my second research question.