Thursday, June 13, 2013

Commerce Street

900 Block of Commerce Street with M&M Building in back (UHD today) in Houston Historic District


The naming of this street right on the Bayou (and erstwhile Port of Houston) may have been a smart branding choice by the Allen Brothers, but a hundred and fifty years down the road, it has become a misnomer. The commerce has gone elsewhere. What’s left are abandoned or otherwise neglected old brick buildings, re-purposed warehouses, and the Harris County Criminal Justice Complex. 

There are plans on the drawing boards for the redevelopment of Allen’s Landing, including the boarded up International Coffee Building aka Sunset Building, but the concepts have yet to be turned into action. 

The most popular destination on Commerce is the Spaghetti Warehouse, which sits on the Southern bank of Buffalo Bayou at Main Street Bridge, right across the University of Houston Downtown. 

This is a large two-floor Italian restaurant with a trolley car on the second floor and old furniture, furnishings, and old-time commercial signage throughout the warehouse building. It has a very authentic early 19th century feel to it. You can have the antique store or historical museum experience while at the same time devouring a generous helping of lasagna or washing down a bowl of spaghetti with Lambrusco or Chianti. 

On the other corner of Main, the University of Houston tore down the hotel that used to sit there, and had served as a dorm for UHD students in the 1980s. To accommodate its need for more space, the growing urban institution of higher learning erected a modern academic facility, aptly named the Commerce Street Building. 
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Bayou Lofts seen from Commerce Street

1200 Commerce Street - Harris County Criminal Justice and Court Facilities
1600 Commerce - Thermal Supply Building

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