The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston: An Architectural and Social History

Overview

Alleys and back buildings have been largely overlooked in studies of the American urban environment. And yet, rental alley houses, servant and slave quarters, carriage houses, stables, and other secondary structures have lined the alleys and filled the backyards of Galveston since its early days as a growing port city on the upper Texas Gulf Coast.

Like their counterparts in other cities, these buildings and their inhabitants have had a ...

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Overview

Alleys and back buildings have been largely overlooked in studies of the American urban environment. And yet, rental alley houses, servant and slave quarters, carriage houses, stables, and other secondary structures have lined the alleys and filled the backyards of Galveston since its early days as a growing port city on the upper Texas Gulf Coast.

Like their counterparts in other cities, these buildings and their inhabitants have had a profound visual, physical, and social impact on the history and development of Galveston.

Interweaving written documents, oral interviews, and pictorial images, Beasley presents a vivid picture of Galveston’s alleys and alley life from the founding of the city into the twentieth century. The book blends a unique combination of research, photography, and the voices of those who have lived and live along the alleys. Beasley has uncovered and analyzed a wealth of new information not only about the back buildings of Galveston but also about their occupants and the complex cultural forces at work in their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Top Country Music and Life
“Filled with literally hundreds of photos, each keyed into easy reference maps and locators, it will certainly be a valuable book for architects, historians, students, teachers, and anyone fascinated with buildings and urban conditions.” —Top Country Music and Life
Elizabeth A. Lyon
“This is an important addition to our knowledge and understanding of how cities developed. Its value to historians, preservationists and citizens alike reaches far beyond Galveston.”—Elizabeth A. Lyon, retired Georgia State Historic Preservation Officer and member, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Diversity Council
William Seale
“I do not think another book like this exists, but hope there will be many more following this exact model all across the nation. It is at once a preservation book about common folk architecture and a well-grounded history, written from sources both oral and written. Along with this commendable quality, Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston is a compelling read. When you finish it you feel that you know the historic, much-battered island city better than you ever have before.” —William Seale
Geoffrey C. Ward
The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston represents urban history at its very best. Richly illustrated, elegantly written and filled with the authentic voices of kids of people all too rarely listened to by historians, it brings back to vivid life a little-known and long vanished aspect of one of America’s most distinctive cities.” —Geoffrey C. Ward
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ellen Beasley is the co-author of the Galveston Architecture Guidebook. A preservationist and writer, she earned a Loeb Fellowship to the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A former resident of Galveston for sixteen years, she now lives in Houston.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction: Views and Interviews 2
1 In View ... on the Backside: The Pre-Civil War Years 13
2 Independent of the Front House: The Post-Civil War Years 21
3 From Privies to Prostitution: The 1870s and 1880s 29
4 Living "in the Rear" 41
5 Owning Alley Property 57
6 Devastation and Reconstruction: The 1900 Hurricane 69
7 Change along the Alley: Technology and Housing Reform 81
8 Alleyscapes 91
9 Stepping into the Yard: Service Buildings and Back Houses 97
10 Stepping into the Alley: Alley Houses 107
11 Speaking of Alleys and Back Buildings... 117
Conclusion: A Matter of Choice 133
App. A Listing of Interviewees 138
App. B Reconstructing Alley Households 140
App. C Distribution of Alley Addressees Listed in 1881-82 and 1891-92 City Directories 142
App. D Distribution of Alley Addressees Listing in 1901-2 and 1911-12 City Directories 143
App. E Supplemental Tables Based on City Directory Listings: 1881-82, 1891-92, 1901-2, 1911-12 144
App. F Alphabetical Listing of Alley Dwellers Mentioned in the Book 146
Notes 148
Illustration Credits 161
Index 162
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