Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Monday, June 6, 2011

Imperial Boulevard

A few month's ago I posted a copy of the old Sugar Land newspaper, Texas Industrial News, printed on December 6, 1924. It had a short article about Imperial Boulevard, which had just been named by residents living on that street. I know first-hand that many residents referred to Imperial Blvd. as 'Rat Row.' I can't recall who told me this, but the cotton gin & dairy (which sat at the east end of the street where it intersected Ulrich St.) attracted lots of rodents. Alec Horn has told me his father & uncle were paid to hunt (shoot) rats at night. (Alec's grandfather ran the feed mill.)

(Update) Gerald Culler reminded me that Imperial Boulevard went by another nickname, too: "Tin Can Alley."

(Update) I received this note from Ron Miller, whose family lived on Imperial Boulevard. "
I have another angle on why it was called Rat Row.
The railroad marshalling yard was to the north of our street and before Oyster Creek. The waste raw sugar from the plant was piled adjacent to the rr tracks, and the rats feasted on this substance and became quite large. And there were a lot of them. They tunnelled all over the place and for some reason elected to build exits in the back yards of the people that lived on the north side of the road.

My dad's brother, Johnny Miller, his wife, Selma, and son my cousin, Vernon, lived next door to us. Vernon was about four years older than me, and knew how to use a 22 rifle. He liked to do some rat plinking from time to time, and would set up in the back yard to do this. If it was a slow day for rat plinking, a water hose could be placed in one of the holes/exits for the rats and the caverns below filled with water. Of course, the rats escaped to the surface to the rifle fire of Vernon. Ron"

I wish I had a good picture of the street. The best I can do are the two below. They may have been taken at the same time, sometime between 1949 & 1951. (The Palms Theater appears in the pictures, & it was completed in 1949. The Shopping Center isn't under construction, & it began in April, 1949.)

Imperial Boulevard is the street running down to the lower- right corner of the first picture. You can just see the beginning of the houses. It's in the lower-left of the second picture.

(Notice Belknap. Just a few houses there.)

The earliest houses dated from 1922. A house was moved to the end of the street (north side) in 1946. Most houses were built in 1924 & 1925. My grandparents (Kellys) lived at 506. I always thought the street address was 811 because that's what's on my father's birth certificate, but actual street addresses weren't assigned until sometime in the 1930s when HL&P began supplying power to the town. Earlier street numbers (like 811) were a company reference, apparently.

Imperial Boulevard vanished with the expansion of Nalco in the 1970s.