Thursday, July 18, 2024

HOUSTON’S OLDEST STREET

Old as the quote: “There is no future without the past,” and hardly anyone would argue with this expression.

Our city can undoubtedly be included in the list of the most famous metropolises in the world. Numerous skyscrapers, bright illuminations and city lights make the streets of Houston even more beautiful, emphasizing its greatness. The Galleria shopping center, Discovery Green, the Art Car Museum, the Downtown Tunnel and hundreds of other architectural landmarks and tourist attractions of Houston are known to almost all residents of our city. Learn more at houston-future.

But everything was completely different not so long ago, so we invite you to the oldest street of ancient Houston. As they say: “Welcome to the past!”

Mid-19th century

Although sources indicate that our city was officially founded in 1836, Westheimer Road was opened in 1895 owing to Harris County.

The 31-kilometer road owes its name to a wealthy German immigrant named Mitchell Lewis Westheimer, who settled in Houston in 1859. He was a flour seller. At the time, he acquired several hundred hectares of land on the outskirts of the city and built a school there. Initially, the road to the educational institution was called “the road to Westheimer.” Nearby, Mitchell built a farm known now to locals as Lamar High School and St. John’s School.

The famous University of Houston was officially opened on this street in 1927. It became the alma mater of many prominent personalities in various fields, ranging from scientists to politicians. Among them, Soviet female divers Vera Ilyina, Yulia Pakhalina and Anastasia Pozdnyakova can be singled out.

Since the 1950s, people have established an unspoken rule or tradition on the streets. The middle-class population did not live close to the road but in the adjacent areas. The area close to the carriageway was intended for elite shops, businesses, restaurants, gas stations and entertainment venues.

It was probably during this time that the foundation of this street was laid, which is the longest thoroughfare in Texas and is considered the most vibrant business street in Houston.

In the 21st century, the street stretches from Bagby Street to the Westpark Tollway. However, it was a little bit different in the early days. In 1912, Hedwig Road was developed to connect Elgine, which ended near Bagby, with Westheimer.

An interesting fact is that the famous company Hurvitz, which operates to this day, has a direct connection to Mitchell Westheimer. It was the family business that thrived until 1920 under the name Westheimer Transfer. However, it was sold to entrepreneur Ben Hurvitz, who rebranded it later.

Present days

As years passed and generations changed, the street miraculously did not get old but looked like new. Let’s be honest, this happens with all streets in metropolises.

In 2007, Westheimer Road was included into the top 7 most expensive streets in the USA and there’s nothing surprising about it. All the globally famous and best brands have their boutiques here, not to mention the business centers.

It doesn’t make sense to talk about how the street shines like a Christmas tree in the dark hours of the day, as it’s obvious.

All 31 kilometers of the street can be schematically divided into several cultural and entertainment segments, from strip bars to hipster districts. There are a lot of such neighborhoods, each different from the other.

All of the above doesn’t convey even the smallest part of all the secrets and historical curiosities, of which there are much more than grains in a bag of flour that its founder once traded. So, seeing once is better than hearing twice.

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