“Male Fixings” and Horse Manure — Main Street, ca. 1900

by Paula Bosse

main-and-stone-looking-west_cook_degolyer_ca1900George W. Cook Collection, SMU

by Paula Bosse

This great photograph shows Main Street looking west from Stone Street, with the courthouse way off in the distance. I especially like the sign for “Male Fixings” (a store selling men’s clothing accessories). Let’s zoom in to see that sign better.

main-and-stone-looking-west_cook_degolyer_ca1900-det

I also like the guy with the bicycle, next to the barber pole at the lower right, and the lone woman crossing the street. (There is a little girl in a white dress on the sidewalk on the right, but everyone else in this photo is of the gender that might well patronize a business called “Male Fixings.”)

One of the interesting things about this photo is that it appears that the building in the right foreground is still standing. Back then it was 357 Main, today it is 1525 Main, currently home to the Sol Irlandes restaurant. From my best sleuthing, it appears that the building popped up at Main and Stone sometime between 1892 (where the one-story building that preceded it was still showing on that year’s Sanborn map) and the end of 1896. (The tall, dark building across Main at the bottom left, is the Scollard Building, known affectionately as the “Jennie” building.)

As indelicate as it may be to bring up the subject … I assume there were people employed to walk around the streets with shovels to clean up after all those horses? I’ve actually thought of this fairly often. It had to have been a major, major problem back then. I’ve just looked it up. The average horse pulling wagons and carriages produced, on average, 30+ pounds of manure and several gallons of urine daily, deposited willy-nilly whenever the need arose (which was often). Multiply that by hundreds. This article isn’t about Dallas, but I highly recommend “The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894” — you’ll learn way more about the subject than you may want to — read it here. That lady crossing the street? I bet she spent a good part of every day hiking her skirts and dodging dung.

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This is another wonderful photo from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be accessed (and zoomed in on) here.

What does this same view look like today? It looks like this.

Sol Irlandes Mexican Grill is at 1925 Main Street, and the building it occupies was built in the mid-1890s, making it one of the oldest buildings downtown. And it’s COOL-looking — check it out here. The history page of the restaurant’s website is here. It’s remarkable that a 120-year old building is still standing in this city, especially as it’s only steps away from the site of the largest demolition of historic buildings in recent memory (in the “eyeball” block). The building wasn’t yet built at the northwest corner of Main & Stone in 1892, as shown in the Sanborn map for that year (here), but it was there by the 1899 map (here). In January of 1897, the owner of the new two-story building was advertising space for rent.

Another interesting article on the “manure problem” is “When Horses Posed a Public Health Hazard” — a blog post from The New York Times (which tantalizingly mentions herds of pigs roaming the streets of NYC) — read it here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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