Page 33 - Galveston Monthly - September 2017

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SEPTEMBER 2017 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
33
peninsula, and then veered sharply to the
right at the outskirts of town to connect
with Broadway.
The plush railcars of the Interurban
careened down tracks laid on the
esplanade, among the hundreds of
trees and oleanders, then turned left
down 21
st
Street and traveled through
downtown to the Galveston station
located between Postoffice and Church
Streets. Automobiles could continue down
Broadway past 21
st
Street all the way to
the seawall.
But the enterprise that recognized
Broadway as a picturesque entrance into
the island city was ironically the very same
one that would ultimately contribute to
the commercialization of the residential
thoroughfare and the subsequent demise
of its aesthetic. Speed was the ultimate
goal of the designers of the Galveston-
Houston Interurban, and so a route along
the coastline was nixed, even though it
would travel through established coastal
towns.
Instead, in an astounding feat of
engineering, the electric tracks were
forged in an almost completely straight
line between the two cities. This plan met
with much criticism, because the route
missed every town in between Houston and
Galveston by as much as two miles.
The route did, however, accomplish the
goal of speed, and thus a roadway for
automobiles along this path soon followed
and would eventually become Interstate
45. The road of course was no closer
to established towns than its electric
predecessor, and this meant that service
and fuel stations for automobiles along the
way were scarce if not entirely nonexistent.
Presumably as a response to the
Galveston map c. 1933
Broadway c. 1945
GHE 109 outbound in esplanade, September 20, 1935
demand for such services immediately upon entering the
city, given both the shortage of them along the way and the
unreliability of automobiles at the time, the early 1930s saw
the first of many garages and service stations pop up on the
far west end of Broadway. Among the first were the Broadway
Motor Oil Depot & Garage at 48
th
Street and the West
Broadway Fill Station at 50
th
Street.
Within a few short years, not only had these types of
businesses proliferated along Broadway, nearly the entire
street west of 51
st
Street had become commercialized
with restaurants, locksmiths, and mattress sellers. The
encroachment continued with the construction of the Moody
Compress and the Coca-Cola bottling factory, which pushed the
commercialization even further into industrialization.