In a series of tweets yesterday, Leah Binkovitz over at the Urban Edge took viewers on a Google StreetView tour of the 9 Houston sites included in the spring 1956 edition of the Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the handy pre-civil-rights publication that, by its own description, existed to “give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable.” Too bad though, there wasn’t left much to see. Almost all the properties — home once to various hotels, motels, and restaurants — are vacant now.
New editions of the guide came out each year from 1937 to 1967, however, meaning a whole bunch of other Houston venues made the list at sometime or other. And, according to Craig Hlavaty at the Chronicle, at least 5 of them are still around, most notably, the art-deco Eldorado Ballroom pictured above at 2310 Elgin.
And perhaps less notably, the two-tone Ralston Discount Liquors #1 store on the corner of Lyons Ave. and Gregg St. formerly known as Ralston Drug Store:
There’s also the former Mingo Motel, now The Best Reed Motel, on Reed Rd. just east of Cullen Blvd. in Sunnyside, as well as a lodging site called Kirk Courts that’s just east of the Waco St. bridge over the train tracks in Fifth Ward. Both of them appear in the 1961 edition:
Full versions of the Green Books are available on the New York Public Library’s website and include other memorable passages, like this one from the introduction to the 1949 edition: “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.”
- The Green Book Collection [New York Public Library]
- This is the Spring 1956 issue [Leah Binkovitz]
- More than a movie: The Green Book and Houston in the Jim Crow era [Houston Chronicle]