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Looking at a 1927 map of Liberty

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2018 8:54 pm

Last April, The Vindicator posed the question of whether Grand in Liberty is properly called Grand Street or Grand Avenue? We asked because there are streets signs that call it avenue but others that call it street.

Mostly, we were trying to give the city a hard time about a silly error, but the responses received said unanimously — and a few a bit angrily — that it was and always has been Grand Avenue.

Last night, while searching for something else, we ran across this Sanborn Insurance map from 1927. For whatever it’s worth, this map calls it Grand Avenue. However, except for the highway, it calls most of Liberty’s east-west roads avenues — Webster Avenue, Cos Avenue, Trinity Avenue, etc.

Looking at a 1927 map of Liberty

Neither street nor avenue is included in the names of north-south roads, and the names of some of those roads have changed since 1927. What is now Sam Houston Street was then Liberty Avenue, and what was then Sam Houston is now Bowie.

Beaumont Avenue was Akron, and Lamar was East Akron.

Before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, it was Commerce, but before that it was a section of State Highway No. 3. South of the highway and running parallel with it was Santa Anna Avenue, which now stops at Alabama.

To the west of Bowie, which was then Sam Houston, is Missouri Street, which was then Fonda. West of that was Alden, which is now Louisiana Street.

Main was Main, and it still is, but north of Travis, what is now North Travis was then called Nyack.

The map includes some details that might interest anyone curious about local history. Where the First Baptist Church is now there was a peanut roaster. There were two sets of railroad tracks with a road called Jefferson Avenue between them for some distance. The building everyone calls the train depot is labeled on the Sanborn map as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad station, and there is a separate building to the east labeled a freight depot.

At the corner of Jefferson and Travis was the Western Public Service Co. Ice Plant and Electric Sub-station, which the mapmakers noted, was in continuous operation.

South of the depot was the highway, now MLK, and on the south side of the highway was a hotel, some warehouses, offices and an auto repair shop.

County official complain about the lack of space in the courthouse, but the courthouse in 1927 was tiny compared to the one built in 1930. The old courthouse looks to have been no more than a third the size of the current courthouse.

Next door to where The Vindicator office is now is Zeb Zbranek’s law office, which according to this map was the post office in 1927. At the corner one block west the building labeled on the map as Printing was the original Vindicator office, where Hair on the Square is now. South of that was a community pavilion, the fire department and a band stand.

Where the post office is now was once the site of Sam Houston Elementary, but before that it was called the Jefferson Davis School.

Looking at a 1927 map of Liberty

To make the map easier to read, and at the risk of making it much harder to read, we have sliced and rearranged it a bit so that the avenues continue more or less in line. To see a higher resolution of the Sanborn map go to the University of Texas Libraries map collection website by clicking here.

[Ed. Note: I have no recollection of what it was I sat down to do late this afternoon, but this is what I came up with.]

CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to change San Jacinto Elementary to Sam Houston Elementary.

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