Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Houston Weather Eye Globe

October 17, 1955 the Texas National Bank building (the backside of the sign also promoted Conoco, who also held floors in the building) opened with a Weather Eye or Weather Beacon affixed atop. 

Its address was 921 Main and McKinney and it was designed by Kenneth Franzheim.

LIFE Magazine ran a page with a photo from the interior of the ball August 22, 1955

It's text read, "Until recently people in Houston, Texas found out the weather forecast in the old-fashioned ways, like reading newspapers, listening to the radio, watching TV. Now they can just look out the window. From anywhere in the city -- and at night from 25 miles out -- they can see a colored ball glowing 285 feet high in the air. A Plexiglass sphere 18 feet in diameter and lined with 2,200 feet of light tubing, the ball changes color to predict the weather: red for warmer, green for no change, white for cooler, and blinking light for rain.. 

The weather ball rests on top of an 85-foot tower mounted of the roof of a new skyscraper being built by two Texas companies. To insure equal billing, the companies' signs are mounted back to back on the tower and are rigged to rotate, flashing the two names endlessly under the weather."

undated postcard with the lit-up weatherball at right

a great photo of the building and ball is online in Houston on the Move

another undated postcard

and apparently the jingle for the balls was the same all over

Sometime in 1964, the ball was removed from atop the building and housed in a warehouse, reportedly because pilots flying in and out of Hobby Airport had complained it was an aviation hazard.

A few years later, when Astroworld was in its infancy, it was bought, painted, and installed at the front gate where it stood for more than three decades. In 1994, after Time Warner purchased its large share in the park, a remodel removed the globe and from there, it has disappeared into thin air. There does not appear to be any trace of a buyer at auction or its whereabouts.

from the 1973 Conroe yearbook

1984 Chronicle photo currently on sale via eBay

a final view from on high in the AstroNeedle

Friday, January 19, 2018

Bracewell Library March 16, 1970

from the Houston Chronicle files, dated March 16, 1970, the same year the library opened in the parking lot of Almeda Mall.

Almeda Mall, October 16, 1968 Grand Opening

In the week of Almeda Mall's opening, Stan Begram's Bel-Air Photographers shot this photo that was run on at least four occasions in the following year in The Houston Chronicle, according to stamps on the back of the photograph: 

October 16, 1968

November 18, 1968

January 1, 1969

June 27, 1969

The best part about owning the hard copy of the photograph is scanning it and being able to zoom in and check out details. To share those with you, requires letting the original size kind of spill over the pretty margins of the archive, but I think it's worth it. This is in two parts, left and right of the original. 

In the left side, the marquee is not yet installed. The original signage is visible where it would be erected in the coming year.  There also seems to be some type of crane activity happening in the parking lot in front of the Palais Royal doors

On the right side of the photo, there is a temporary building in the parking lot whose sign I cannot make out, along with the canopies and skylights and fantastic Foley's sign and awnings.