Posts Tagged ‘Galveston’

Riding the Retail Railroad

Posted by    |    August 13th, 2010 at 8:23 am

The Jewish immigrants who landed at the Port of Galveston ended up in Dallas at some point.  Are you wondering why they chose to leave the lovely coastal town of Galveston for landlocked Dallas?  It was the railroad.

In the 1870s, Dallas was still a relatively small city with little connection to the outside world.  The city’s growth had stalled with no easy way in for those wishing to relocate. 

However, in 1872, Dallas got just what it needed to finally experience explosive growth.  On July 7 of that year, the last tracks of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad opened for business.  And on July 16, “the first excursion train stopped at a spot located approximately where Pacific Avenue crosses under Central Expressway today.  A crowd made up almost entirely of men celebrated with a barbecue feast of roasted buffalo.”  (Mike McAllister, Hidden History of Dallas).

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But where did it all begin?

Posted by    |    July 31st, 2010 at 11:40 am

Jewish immigrants at the port of Galveston

If we focus only on the history of Dallas retail from a Dallas perspective, we are blasting right past the fascinating roots of retail in Texas and, more broadly, the United States.

Many of the iconic pioneers of  Dallas retailing, after all, were not natives of Texas or even America. They were born in Europe to immigrant parents and only became part of the fabric of Dallas retail after years of living and working in different parts of the state and country.

It is interesting to note that some of the most well-known and influential Dallas retailing families were of Jewish descent.  The Marcus, Sanger, Hrris, Linz, Kahn and Volk families belonged to a group of Jewish merchants active in the cultural, economic, and political development of Dallas.

According to materials gathered and published in the Handbook of Texas Online (Handbook), “Jews have been part of the warp and woof of the Lone Star State since the period of Spanish Texas.”

Prior to 1821, Texas was a Spanish colony “where only Catholics could take up residence.”  If you were an openly practicing Jew, you could not legally live in the state.  But the earliest Jewish immigrants to Texas soon planted roots in places like the Brazos River (Samual Isaacks) and East Texas (N. Adolphus Sterne), and by 1838, outposts including Velasco, Bolivar, San Antonio, Galveston, Goliad and Nacogdoches were home to many early Texas Jews.

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