Houston the Magnolia City

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    Cover to Houston: Where Seventeen Railroads meet the sea

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    Color illustration titled "Main Banking Room Looking Toward Travis Street Entrance."

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    Left page: Photographs of exterior of The State National Bank Building and First National Bank Building. Right page: Photographs of exterior of Chamber of Commerce Building, Houston art Museum, and Keystone Building.

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    Colored illustration of the exterior of the Gulf Building.

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    Cover to Houston, The Magnolia City with inset photograph of a Magnolia Blossom.

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    Illustration with photographs of the exterior of 6 buildings: the Chronicle Building and Majestic Theater, the South Texas National Bank, the Scanlan Building, the Bender Hotel, the Southern Pacific Office Building, and the First National Bank.

The Houston Chamber of Commerce and other business entities presented the city of Houston as a center of growth, industry, opportunity, and scenic beauty in the early 20th century, and this digital collection includes several publications detailing these efforts. Complete with the covers and every page of each item, the collection comprises eight individual books and one that spans 12 volumes.

The collection’s titular item, Houston: The Magnolia City, is a 13-page pamphlet published in 1912 that features illustrations of prominent downtown buildings. The 12-volume set titled Art Work of Houston, Texas was intended to provide a pictorial, artistic perspective of the city. Published in 1904, the set contains photographs, illustrations, and textual descriptions of the neighborhoods, residences, and buildings that made up the city of Houston at the time.

Dating from 1891, Souvenir Album of Houston Texas is the oldest book in the collection, and it features more than two dozen black and white illustrations of pre-1900 buildings, including City Hall, the Opera House, the Cotton Exchange, hotels, churches, and private residences. Houston: Where Seventeen Railroads Meet the Sea, published in 1923, was one of the earliest books to contain color photographs of the area.

The longest book in the collection at 101 pages, The City of Houston aims to attract new residents and capital investors by stating a vigorous case for Houston as a bustling center of commerce; the author describes Houston as not only “the Chicago of the Southwest,” but also as “the foremost city of the grandest state of the greatest country on the face of the globe.”

Other titles in the collection include Greater Houston, Texas and the Southwest, Industrial Advantages of Houston, Niels Esperson Building, and The Gulf Building: Thirty-five Floors, One Thousand Offices.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

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