Houston is a wonderful place, but we have made more than our share of mistakes over the years. From traffic to tear downs, sprawl to self promotion, we have found ourselves cleaning up the messes of former Houstonians for decades. We hope this series will help illuminate some of the issues and maybe even spur us on to find some solutions.
Public Domain via Wikipedia The Galveston-Houston Electric Rail used to get Houstonians to the beach in just over an hour.
Imagine yourself on the way to Galveston on a Saturday morning, your car filled with kids, beach towels, umbrellas and swim toys. A lazy day on the beach awaits you, but only if you can get through the gridlock of brake lights staring at you through the windshield. It appears everyone had the same idea.
Now, think about it again, but this time, you're sitting on an electric train whizzing by those suckers stuck in traffic. Had you lived in depression-era Houston, that dream would have been a reality. For more than two decades in the early 1900's a train shuttled people from downtown Houston's Union Station (now the cornerstone of Minute Maid Park) to Galveston Island. It took about 75 minutes to get to the island including stops as the train paralleled Interstate 45 eventually crossing the causeway on a bridge considered at the time a modern architectural marvel.
In 1936, it was shuttered and the right of way it once utilized handed over to utilities for power lines and commercial developers for strip malls. Throughout Houston's history, we have opted for highways over mass transportation and the Galveston-Houston Electric Railway is one of the earliest examples of our obsession with driving ourselves everywhere. And almost 80 years after our mass transit option to the beach went under, we are still making plans.More »