City Still Working on Changing Dowling Street’s Name, Street Name Changing Rules

CITY STILL WORKING ON CHANGING DOWLING STREET’S NAME, STREET NAME CHANGING RULES Rendering of Emancipation Park, Dowling St., Third Ward, HoustonThe renaming of Dowling St. to Emancipation Ave. is taking a little longer than the 10 weeks initially planned by the city planning commission, Mike Morris notes this week (now that that floated November 6 renaming ceremony date has come and gone). The final votes to formalize the name change are still coming up; the mayor and city council have also been rethinking the rules on how to change street names, which currently require a written OK from 75 percent of the property owners along a public street. Fewer than half of Dowling St.’s property owners initially signed on to the change,  though that percentage is skewed by the fact that many absentee owners couldn’t be reached at all, according to state rep Garnet Coleman. Morris writes that the proposed rule updates just require “sufficient” support for a name change to go through; the renaming of Dowling is moving forward under the new rules as a trial run before the city approves the rules officially. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of in-progress Emancipation Park redo on Dowling St.: Phil Freelon

21 Comment

  • “sufficient support”……ok. Good on the government to come up with a completely arbitrary way to ram whatever changes they want down our throat. Cool, cool.

    What’s wrong with getting 75% approval? Oh, it didn’t work……must change rules to push forward agenda. Nice!

  • Rules, schmules. We need feel good actions NOW!

  • How much support do we need to change the name of the city?

  • “Sufficient support” is a ridiculous standard. Why don’t we just set it at 2%? That way, we can change street names every month with that low bar.

  • I believe the standard should be “a preponderance of support”!

  • Typical government bullshit. “Let’s make some rules that everyone has to follow… except us.” Who’s idea was it to change that street name anyway? That’s shit’s expensive…. Think how much valuable city government time has been wasted already on that boondoggle… not to mention the actual financial cost of changing all of those street signs… and the additional costs pushed onto the affected property owners, business owners, etc, etc.

    And the name is stupid anyway. Emancipation Ave? What exactly does that street have to do with anyone’s Emancipation? It’s actually kind of offensive to that particular community. Did anyone at the city actually ASK anyone over there if they wanted that name change? My guess is NO.

    Every city has to have an MLK… and a JFK… and now a Caesar Chavez–and even a Harvey Milk street. It’s just so stupid. Because changing a street name doesn’t change anything. How about spending all of that energy and all of that money actually IMPROVING the street and the neighborhood. It’s full of potholes and burned out / abandoned businesses. Does that city think that changing the name to something loftier than Dowling is going to fix those problems?

  • Sure sign that gentrification is changing gears is when guilt-based symbolism appears.

  • Dowling was one heck of a cannon shooter, a first-generation Irish immigrant, first-rate saloon keeper and a fellow who was defending his State (which at the time was more important than National identity). Do-gooders will need to look at also re-naming Tuam Street which is named in his honor as his birthplace. Think of the “trickle-down” possibilities to all of Houston’s street names! Travis, Fannin, Milam, Austin, Smith, even Houston itself!

  • I know to get rid of the Montrose Management District they had to get 75% of the owners to sign a petitiion. Getting 75% to agree on anything is hard. But getting 75% to agree *AND* track them down to sign is damn near impossible.
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    But the group fighting the management district managed to do it.
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    Though that didn’t stop them from continuing to operate as normal….
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    So when the government wants to make the change, and the requirement is too hard, they just ignore it and make up benchmarks like “sufficient”. But when the PEOPLE want to make a change, they enforce to the letter the hurdles. And in some cases (like MMD), even when the hurdle is met it’s ignored.
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    Shit like this drives me crazy. It’s why I’m not upset about Trump winning even though I didn’t vote for him.

  • I also don’t like the name Emancipation Avenue. And something else, I don’t hear anyone suggesting that the name of Washington Avenue be changed. George Washington was a slaveowner, along with some other early U.S. Presidents. Where does one draw the line?

  • Not sure how much of his Wikipedia article is true (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_W._Dowling), but assuming most of it is….he was himself the victim of discrimination (anti-Irish) in New Orleans, which propelled him to move to Houston to escape it. He was a founding member of many business associations and a prominent proprietor of Houston’s social scene. Up until his participation in the Civil War, he was quite the example of an immigrant’s success in the American dream.

    In the grand scheme of things, no street names are sacred. A while back, they renamed Battleground Road to “Independence Parkway” out near La Porte – no good reason being given at the time. In 100 years, all the MLK streets will probably be renamed in honor of someone else.

  • I just had the most awesome idea. Since this renaming doesn’t seem to have taken effect yet, we can still change plans, right?
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    Let’s rename (Dick) Dowling Street to (Iron Bill) Dowling Street, to honor the memory of the firefighter who passed away this week of complications due to the injuries he suffered in the motel fire that killed four of his compatriots in 2013.

  • The Confederacy was a failed but destructive attempt at perpetuating slavery. Dowling’s name was put there to replace the older name of East Broadway as a spiteful riposte to the creation of Emancipation Park, the moral equivalent of, say, changing the name of a prominent street in Atlanta to Sherman Boulevard.
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    Per the article, the city tried but could not get the 75%, not because of opposition, but because of absentee property owners. The complaints here about the rules change are a fig-leaf for just wanting Dowling’s name to stay, and that’s pretty ugly.

  • @Houstonreader I don’t know why you are assuming something “ugly” or racist is underpinning the opinions against the change in the street renaming standard. It seems to me that because the 75% standard could not be reached, for whatever reason, a new standard has been adopted that is far less objective: “sufficient” support. Key question: Who or what determines the “sufficient” level? I think many people are complaining about this new standard.

    I, and I am a black man by the way, do not support the name change to Emancipation Avenue. The original name was East Broadway? It should be changed back to that, if changed at all. With perhaps very few exceptions, I do not support name changes for streets, buildings, parks, etc. away from their original names, for sake of history, which we cannot escape. In my opinion, if you want to name something after MLK, JFK, George H.W. Bush, Yolanda Navarro, Bob Lanier, or whomever, it should be something new (a new building, a new school, a new street, etc.).

  • @ Bill: Racist is your word here. I said ugly and illustrated my meaning with the purpose-made example of Sherman Boulevard in Atlanta.
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    And, to be all the clearer, I’m not defending the language of the proposed rule change; I’m defending the motivation for making the change. Sure, “sufficient” is too vague, and a better rule is needed, but I consider that a trivial problem against the insult and spite of slapping Dowling and Tuam on the two streets that border the existing Emancipation Park.
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    I also consider your feelings about changing street names to be arbitrary and nit-picking. You’re entitled to your opinion on the matter, of course, but neither your opinion nor your race is germane to the issues surrounding the re-naming of those streets in the 1890s or now.

  • @Houstonreader I mentioned my race to emphasize the fact that there is not a unanimous opinion among those in the black community concerning the name change of Dowling Street. Also, I find your comment about my opinion condescending, because your opinion on the matter is just that: an opinion. And you have a right to yours as well.

    Also, I did not quote you as saying racist. That’s why it wasn’t in quotes.

    Moreover, why not go back to the original name in this case?

  • Bill, it’s not my opinion or even a matter of opinion at all that some are hurt and offended at the Dowling Street and Tuam Street names. Nor is it a matter of opinion as to how and when those streets were so named. Those things are facts. As for opinions, you and I differ over whether anybody should reasonably be hurt or offended over this history, and, consequently, whether anything should be done about it.
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    The fact that you’re not personally offended doesn’t mean that others aren’t. As for what does offend you, I can’t say that that’s clear: is it that you don’t like changing street names? or is it that you want original street names restored? Why either should particularly weigh on you is even less clear. Like I said: arbitrary and nit-picking.
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    I think we can safely agree that nobody here, irrespective of his race, is speaking for “the black community” or needs to.

  • “Arbitrary and nit-picking.” Now that’s an opinion, which you are entitled to.

    “Why either should particularly weigh on you is even less clear.” It doesn’t particularly weigh on me. However, I have as much right as anyone else to state what I think on the matter.

    Apparently you support the Dowling Street name change; I am fine with the name as it is, or I would support changing it back to East Broadway. Fair enough.

  • @Bill: Criticism is not censorship. It’s unnecessary for you to proclaim your “right to state what you think on the matter,” because no one is denying you that right. That’s a strawman. You’re just getting criticized for your statements, and that’s all.
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    If you check the transcript, you’ll see why—in my opinion and based on historical facts—the street names should be changed. You, by contrast, have never given any reason as to why they shouldn’t, except for being against changing street names in general. You think it condescending, but I don’t put much stock in your opinions because you don’t give reasons for them, much less good ones. Fair enough, indeed.

  • @Houstonreader What makes a reason “good”? Someone’s opinion. Are you saying something “should” be done? That’s a matter of opinion. If we are both around, we will see what happens with Dowling and Tuam.

  • My final comment here, and I will not return to this thread. I will not consider one opinion of greater worth than any other; in my view, all of them should be respected and valued equally. The objective result, of whatever duration, will be seen on the street signs. I support a name change for Dowling, but back to East Broadway. Or, as a previous commenter suggested, since the posted name is already Dowling, that it be rededicated in honor of ‘Iron Bill’ Dowling.