A 35-Ft.-Tall Charlie Chaplin Near Downtown; Answering Newstonians’ Most Common Questions


Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool


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  • “June 21, 2014 | Updated: June 21, 2014 10:10pm
    Mayra Beltran, Staff

    GALVESTON – An elderly Tempie Cummins didn’t know her age, but clearly remembered the day she learned she was no longer a slave, the day now celebrated as Juneteenth.”

    Really? Lets see … she must be 151 years old. Wow, that is quite a memory she has there. Or else the writers at The Galveston Post are full of it.

  • My apologies to the Galveston Post …. it should have been the Houston Chronicle.

  • @WR You should apologize to the Houston Chronicle too (or read the article, whichever). Tempie Cummins died long ago. That quote is from a slave narrative she gave in the 1930s that’s part of the U.S. Library of Congress.

  • I read the article in the print edition of the Chronicle and, if I remember correctly, Ms Temple Cummins’ remarks were taken from an oral history she gave in the 1930’s. The Chronicle is notorious for editing errors, so that factoid may have been lost in the online edition.

  • Did y’all see the comment on Chron.com from the “Dallas, Houston follow different paths on rail development” article? Good ideas (below) from the editor’s pick for commuter rail in Houston.

    My idea for commuter rail in Houston (given that we’ve pretty much cleared out Northwest Mall, which was the big roadblock to the long-discussed Hempstead Line):
    -Northwest/Hempstead Line – starts in Fairfield (the outlet mall) along Hempstead Highway with stops at Hwy 6 and Little York (near Beltway 8); line ties into Uptown Line
    -Tomball Line – comes down rail line that runs from north of Tomball down through west Aldine and then follows Mangum to also dump out at the Northwest Transit Center; one stop in Tomball, one at 1960, one as it crosses Hwy 249
    -Spring/The Woodlands Line – starts near Hwy 242, stops at Spring-Stuebner/2920, then meets up with a line that starts at IAH
    -Kingwood Line – starts in Porter with a stop at current Townsen P&R and then also meets up with line starting at IAH
    Notice that the Spring and Kingwood lines both also allow for direct transit to the airport, currently the biggest employer north of the beltway
    -Clear Lake Line – follows Hwy 3 (Old Galveston Road) to meet up with current expansion, with diverter at College St. to allow for access to Hobby Airport
    -Sugar Land Line – starts near Hwy 6 @ US 90 and follows Hwy 90 up to meet up with Red Line with stops at the Beltway Hillcroft, and potentially Post Oak Rd.
    Katy Line – follows I-10, starting at the Grand Parkway, with stops at Mason Road, Kirkwood, Memorial, NW Transit Center stops, then going straight into downtown from there with potentially a stop at Shepherd

  • Can the Chron sink any lower than that slideshow for “Newstonians”? Stupid questions answered not infrequently by “get. out.” Who wrote this, a 13 year old girl? I know complaining about the Chronicle is akin to going outside in August and complaining that it’s hot, but that paper truly is an embarrassment.

  • Yeah, all of those questions teeter between “Shower Thoughts” and something a confused “Newstonian”, possibly one battling dementia, might ask.

  • @ Walker: How do you propose to pay for commuter rail? METRO is limited in its revenues by federal appropriations and state law. Even if it had the money to spend, I would argue that it is better off spending the money on the bus system in a manner that is a natural outgrowth of METRO’s current strategy, so that Park & Ride service connects each lot to numerous employment and activity centers that are scattered throughout the metropolitan area. Houston is polycentric, after all, and only about 5% work downtown, an area of 2 square miles. Meanwhile, approximately half of commuters work inside the loop or in Uptown, an area just shy of 100 square miles; and most of even the inner loop itself is poorly served. METRO needs to go where the people go, and that’s very nearly everywhere, from everywhere else. Buses can do that and not break the banks, rail cannot.

  • @TheNiche
    Your point about $$ is valid. This pie-in-the-sky plan is beyond costly and only serves to fuel detractors than to actually help the debate for rail / reducing congestion.
    However, the Park and ride system does not currently serve Houston’s poly-centric job cores in a manner that you’re letting on. It serves the same function as a classic commuter rail w/out the rails as all routes lead downtown and possibly uptown or the medical center.. You can’t go from the Eastex P&R to the energy corridor directly which is the only really advantage of buses (outside of cost)… the flexibility of point to point / drop off at the door.
    Commuter rail is in Houston’s future…. Or something rail-like in a fixed guide-way that moves lots of ppl efficiently (Commuter BRT? Musk’s super tubes?). There’s really no way to avoid it. The cost issues is just a barrier that we will have to address. We can’t build enough highway lanes to accommodate Houston’s growth. Only a certain # of jobs can tele-commute. Ultimately a longer distance mass transit system that is reliable and outside the freeway congestion influence will happen. It makes sense that they will roughly follow existing freeways / existing rail lines (as freeways generally followed rail lines when they were conceived).
    It may take such things as using utility ROW, swapping existing rail lines in dense areas for new ones provided by METRO in less dense areas, or building overpasses. Who knows. There’s no free lunch and we’ll have to pay for our sprawl directly in large infrastructure projects or in congestion. Almost all public transportation was reactive vs. proactive. Like our political system, it takes damn near a crisis for anything substantive done quickly and it takes a long time to change opinion.

  • I never understood why addickes in conjuntion with the city put his statues in a nice park downtown not in that crappy so called park that he has the pres. heads in…fix up the park put the statues in and make it a tourist attraction in downtown

  • @DNAGuy: Yes, I know that the P&R system is mostly downtown-centric. METRO will be improving it as part of the re-jiggering of their bus system that they’re working out right now. I’d argue they had enough capital to implement commuter rail, that they should spend that on local and express bus routes too. That’s where the bang for the buck is.

    And besides, commuter rail or light rail are such capital-intensive long-term single-purpose projects that they’re subject to economic obsolescence. What happens when a taxi company figures out that it can build a fleet of driver-less taxis and shuttle buses that provide low-cost on-demand door-to-door route-optimized carpooling to anybody that has a smartphone app? Gonna need more carpool lanes; and that’s the sort of thing that squeezes more people onto pavement without adding more cars, so it’ll be a big congestion reliever. If people use a company like that as a bridge from their home onto the transit network then that opens up a lot of opportunities for robust polycentric transit strategies. That becomes a VERY bright future indeed, and one in which fixed-guideway investments seem increasingly marginalized within the context of capital budgeting.

  • Heard the purchaser of Richmond/Post Oak was Bob McNair… actually heard interesting story about young hotshot (not sure who) that tied it up by travelling to Dubai, putting up his life savings (non-refundable) to get it under contract, started working with various retailers/users to parcel it up, then flipped it to McNair for a healthy profit.