Aerial Views up Main Street, 1917 and 1933

I was thinking I might just skip posting tonight because I’m so busy, but while I was putting slides together for a talk on the early history of athletics at Rice I noticed that a very early aerial photo of campus gives a remarkably similar view to one I wrote about last week. Both were taken looking over the athletics field and towards downtown. The quality is obviously very different–the later one was taken by a professional and the earlier by a mechanical engineering professor hanging out the side of a plane flown by an undergrad–but the angle is almost the same and if you zoom in on the 1917 shot you can see quite a bit:

Here’s the one I talked about last week:

What tremendous change in so few years. As I mentioned when I first posted this one, there are a lot of things worthy of comment here. I really am too swamped to write much more, though, so for now I’ll just note that you can clearly see the space where Mecom Fountain would someday be built and that in 1933 it was a garden.


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8 Responses to Aerial Views up Main Street, 1917 and 1933

  1. Leoguy says:

    Melissa, looking forward to your presentation on Rice athletics Friday evening.
    Go Owls!

  2. C Kelly says:

    Will the presentation be recorded & posted on the Web?

  3. mjthannisch says:

    I see the Gulf building doesn’t have its sign yet. It was still the tallest building in Houston when we moved to Houston in 1961. I still think it and the Esperson building are the two most distinctive sky-scrapers in Houston

  4. Barney L. McCoy says:

    The 33 photo records the beginning of the Jesse H Jones– Walter Sterling building wars. Jones was land, cotton, construction and the Chronicle; Sterling was Humble Oil and the Post. When Jones opened the building in 1929, its largest tenant was Gulf Oil and it was the tallest building in Houston. The Humble building was already planned and construction started so they didn’t make it taller that the Gulf Bldg, instead they made it the first airconditioned skyscraper. Later, Humble went one up with the new Humble Bldg, which had just opened in 1963 when I started at Rice. At the time it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Barney L McCoy, Hanszen 67

  5. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    In the first photo, is that a 3-story house near one end of the football field (lower center of the photo)? It is gone in the 1933 picture. It is nice to see the contrasts in these town photos from a similar angle.

  6. Pingback: From the Top of Mech Lab towards Main | Rice History Corner

  7. GAG says:

    I’m almost certain that the 1933 picture is not correctly dated. It does not show the houses built on Dryden (parallel to University) that were built in the 1920s. Compare it to the 1931 picture you posted on 12/20/2010, which does show the Dryden houses.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Hmmm. The perspective might be different enough that you couldn’t see the houses from that angle, but what tells me you’re right is the fact that I can’t see any streets to the west of the stadium. And look at how rough the landscape is! Interestingly, both the photos in question had dates on them. I feel like the 1931 date is correct. On close inspection, the one dated 1933 can’t be 1933–the statue of William Marsh Rice isn’t there. Cohen House is, though, which means the correct date must be 1928-early 1929.

      Very nice catch. Thanks!

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