Raymond Brochstein ’55 Makes My Day

Just before I left town last week I got a phone call from former Rice trustee Raymond Brochstein, ’55. He promised that while I was gone he would bring in a packet of aerial photographs he had taken as part of a project while he was an architecture student. When I arrived this morning I made a beeline for them and was not disappointed. Only one shows the Rice campus but it is a stunner:


Look at that! Do you know what that is?! It’s the back of everything!

I’m still swooning.

I don’t believe I have ever before seen an image of the back of the mech lab and power plant, let alone the back of the Engineering Annex. And I’ve certainly never seen Abercrombie from this angle. I’ll be spending significant time with this one. I’m so happy. Sigh.

Bonus: Most of the pictures were of the city, but it’s a city with which I am not familiar. I can’t find any way to get my bearings. Here are a few to see if anyone can help me. What am I looking at?




And finally, here’s something else interesting. There was a strip of negatives in the envelope so I had to drag out a light box to have a look at them. Most of them matched the prints, but there were some that weren’t printed and there were also some prints that didn’t have a corresponding negative, including the shot of the Rice campus.

Which means that there must be another roll somewhere.

Extra bonus:


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8 Responses to Raymond Brochstein ’55 Makes My Day

  1. Gary Chiles says:

    The first aerial photo of downtown is looking east down Preston Street. You can see the old courthouse building as a reference point and Buffalo Bayou is to the left. I found that the Google maps 3D feature was really helpful in orienting myself. In Google maps 3D, you can hold down the control button and change the angle and direction to get almost the exact same vantage point. The next two photos are taken just a few seconds later as the plane flew over the northwest corner of downtown. In the second photo, you can still see the old courthouse building and the bridges over Buffalo Bayou are still there, even in 2017. The third photo is looking north over Buffalo Bayou at the northern end of Louisiana Street. The ten-story or so building on the right side of the photo is still standing today on the northeast corner of Franklin and Travis, one block south of Spaghetti Warehouse. In 1956, the Spaghetti Warehouse was just a warehouse, most likely without spaghetti.

  2. marmer01 says:

    Yes, the most interesting thing about the first photo is the lovely Grand Central Station and train yard, which was torn down in 1960 for the big Downtown Post Office. (It’s a white “stair step” building in the center foreground.) In the distance you can see the Gulf Building (pre-Gulf-logo), the Esperson building, and the Petroleum building.

  3. marmer01 says:

    You can see the Grand Central Station much better in the second photo, now that I look at it.

  4. degb00 says:

    Owlbumette prints? Made by the tiny bums of Owls?

  5. marmer01 says:

    In the foreground of the third picture you almost can see the Merchants and Manufacturers Building, known today as UH-Downtown. But not quite.

  6. effegee says:

    Are those skylights on the north and south wings of Abercrombie? I thought skylights were an innovation when they were put in during a late 80’s – early 90’s renovation.

    I’m pretty sure that the first picture of downtown looks down into the old Southern Pacific Grand Central Depot north of Buffalo Bayou and future site of the recently closed downtown post office. The Gulf Oil Building doesn’t have it’s rotating orange lollipop yet. At least one of the Esperson Buildings is visible near the right edge and wing strut. You can track the bayou from just above the lower right corner to the right of the strut. Just follow the high bridges if you lose sight of the greenery. Main Street is the fancy arched bridge. Harris County Courthouse is the whitish dome by itself.

    Second photo: The Folger’s sign is the SE corner of Franklin and Louisiana. Congress to the right of Franklin bends around to connect to Franklin with Smith St. starting and going off to the right. The Congress/Smith connection to Franklin will sit opposite the driveway to the post office parking lot when it is built.

    Third photo: Main Street at extreme right picture crossing bayou. UH-Downtown will be started in one of the buildings on the north side. Milam crosses bayou near center top. And the old train station at upper left.

    Wikipedia says there was a depot for Katy Railroad near the top of the Main Street Viaduct near UH-D and that one of its platforms still exists below the viaduct. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_station_(Texas)

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