The West Houston Archives

Discover the history of West Houston from its many roads


(Above photo: Facing west along Hempstead Rd. near Dacoma St., May 2013)

Hempstead Road, also known as Hempstead Highway, is the predecessor of Highway 290, or the Northwest Freeway.  It exists today only in broken, non-continuous fragments that run basically parallel to the newer 290 freeway, but there was once a time when Hempstead Rd. was the main highway between the towns of Hempstead and Houston.  It was also the primary route to other larger cities like Austin.
   The route followed a right-of-way originally laid out by the railroad tracks.  In the early days of the 20th century, the first road heading southeast from the town of Hempstead was known as Houston Highway, a two lane road most likely paved with crushed shells.  Houston Highway connected with Washington Rd. in Waller, TX, and Washington Rd. ran the remainder of the distance into Houston, ending at what we now know as Washington Avenue. 
   To the surprise of some, Washington Rd. was not named after our first president, but after George Washington Hockley, the founder of the town of Hockley.  Later in the mid-20th century, when the nation's roads began improving to handle the higher speeds attained by the average car, Hempstead Highway was born, built just to the north of the old Houston Highway/Washington Rd. route.  These roads became side streets, and remain so today, though they have been paved over with asphalt several times.
   Hempstead Rd. remained the primary Northwest freeway until the construction of the 290 freeway began to gain momentum in the 1970's and 80's.  As the new freeway grew, life on Hempstead Rd. became frozen in time.  All the new businesses were built alongside the 290 frontage roads, and what remained on Hempstead Rd. were mostly older structures.  Because the area surrounding Hempstead Rd. closer to town was largely industrial, the road continued to serve as a vital artery for commercial interests such as truck and rail freight even after the 290 freeway had opened.  As 290 ventured further west of Houston, parts of Hempstead Rd. were overtaken by the freeway, causing the road to be chopped into non-continuous sections.  By the early 80's, it was no longer possible to travel between Houston and Hempstead using just the old highway.  The road exists today in four separate sections, listed below, starting from the epicenter and heading west.

 *SECTION 1: Started at Washington Street just inside the 610 Loop and extended to what is now the Beltway 8/Sam Houston Tollway interchange.

 *SECTION 2: Between Eldridge Parkway and Huffmeister Road.

 *SECTION 3: Between Skinner Rd. and House & Hahl Rd. through downtown Cypress.

 *SECTION 4: Extending between the town of Waller and its terminus in downtown Hempstead, Tx.

   These four sections of road all remain open to traffic today, but are considered side streets, or as they are labeled, "Business" routes.  The first section is the most interesting to me, because it is like a time capsule of how the outskirts of town used to be in the days before the mega freeways.  From the Beltway all the way into Houston you will find the roadsides peppered with businesses that originally catered to travelers.  Motels, service stations, convenience stores, diners, and bars.  Though many of these businesses have closed and now operate under different names (or are abandoned), most of the buildings and structures on the north shoulder of Hempstead Rd. are originals, some dating back to the 1940's, but averaging around the late 1950's to late 1970's.
   The road itself is a real-life example of the way highways used to be constructed.  The corridors were built wide to accommodate growth, but the road itself was narrow; only four lanes wide.  It was paved with blacktop, and there were no curbs or grassy embankments.  Instead, there were just wide, gravel covered shoulders on both sides, and all the businesses operated across the road from the railroad corridor.  Because of the wide shoulders and lack of curbs, it was feasible for motorists to pull over to the roadside at any time, for any reason, without being a hindrance to traffic.  Cars could also crawl from one parking lot to another without getting on the highway itself. 
   Because of the industrial activity along Hempstead Rd., the pavement is in very poor condition. It has not been completely repaved from one end to the other since the 290 freeway was finished.  It has only received fill-ins and random patchwork as needed, leaving a horribly uneven and bumpy road with dips, swells, ridges, and decades of various manholes, steel panels, and deleted railroad crossings.  While Hempstead Rd. is not the most fun road to travel on, it is certainly unusual to find on this side of town, where everything has been modernized or altered by time.  It is one of the few surviving examples of old highway left on the west side of town.  
   Currently, plans call for a repaving of Hempstead Rd. while parts of 290 are being reconstructed to handle additional traffic.  Eventually, a toll road is planned to follow the Hempstead Rd. corridor from Cypress to the inner loop.  It is not certain how much of the original road, if any, will be overtaken by this installation, but a similar example could be the Westpark Tollway, which took over much of Westpark Dr. in the mid 2000's.  While I welcome the changes to improve the flow of traffic along the 290 corridor, it will be sad to see the old Hempstead corridor changed forever.  This is perhaps what inspired me to photograph the road in so much detail before it was unrecognizable, so that future generations will be able to see Hempstead Rd. as it exists today, a relic of a bygone era nestled right in the modern metropolis of West Houston.



   The first and innermost section of Hempstead Rd. starts as a branch off from Washington Avenue in Houston, and runs northwest in a straight line until just outside the Beltway 8 perimeter.  At Brittmoore Dr., the old highway was chopped off, and taken over by 290, leaving an abrupt end to the four lane road.

THE WEST END OF SECTION 1, OUTSIDE BELTWAY 8 2013a 016.jpg : This is Hempstead Rd. at Brittmoore Rd., just outside the 290/Beltway 8 interchange (May 2013).  Before the main lanes of 290 were completed (late 1970's), Hempstead Rd. was continuous all the way through Cypress and beyond.  The plans for the new Northwest Freeway called for an overlapping of part of Hempstead Rd., so this is where construction crews installed a dead-end on Hempstead Rd., separating segment 1 from segment 2. 2013a 019.jpg : A view of the property between the 290 corridor and Hempstead Rd., facing the Beltway 8 interchange in May of 2013.  This land, which previously contained several fast food restaurants and auto repair shops, had recently been bulldozed completely to make way for a new freeway improvement (known as Project G). 2013a 014.jpg : This is a part of the west end of section 1 crossing under the Beltway 8 interchange (May 2013). 2013a 012.jpg : An old office/warehouse just outside the Beltway 8 boundary.  It dates back to the 1970's but appeared vacant in this May 2013 photo.  It was demolished a few years later. 2013a 013.jpg : The empty shell of a 1970's electric sign on the side of Hempstead Rd., (May 2013). 2013a 015.jpg : A view east along the west end of section 1, standing at Brittmoore Rd., (May 2013). 2013a 003.jpg : A huge sign for Pro Logis Business Park, at Hempstead Rd. & W. Little York (June 2013). 2013a 005.jpg : This auto repair shop at 14720 Hempstead was originally a gas station built in 1950. (June 2013). 2016a 047.JPG : Hempstead Rd. facing west from the Little York Park & Ride (Jan. 2016). 2016a 048.JPG : Hempstead Rd. facing west (same point, zoomed in) (Jan 2016). 2016a 051.JPG : Facing west along Hempstead Rd. from the overpass at Senate Ave. (Jan. 2016). 2016a 045.JPG : An older model utility truck stuck in the mud near the Little York Park & Ride.  Nothing unusual but this truck sat here for nearly two weeks, perhaps a ditched theft job? (Jan. 2016).

FAIRBANKS AREA   Fairbanks is an old town that began as a railroad stop in the late 1800's and extends along Hempstead Rd. from about Gessner to Fairbanks-North Houston Rd. It has been annexed by the City of Houston since the 1950's but is the focus of a lot of the development along section 1 of Hempstead Rd.  
(photo links using an HH were taken between 2011 & 2012, links with the month and year encoded are from 2013 & after.) (27).jpg : The typical roadside scenery along Section 1 of Hempstead Rd. near Fairbanks. 2013a 069.jpg : A faded sign for the business park at 14518 Hempstead, which opened in 1980. 2013a 071.jpg : Old and tired 1958 Chevy Biscayne resting at the business park. Still sporting the old Tx. plates. 2013a 072.jpg : The stickers on this car are from 1977, so it has not been registered in my lifetime. (65).jpg : More roadside scenery in the Fairbanks area of Hempstead Rd. 2013a 067.jpg : A pair of classic Chevies parked behind a fence next to Winkler's Auto Repair.  The Motts Motel is in the distance, an old motor lodge from the mid 1970's. 2016a 004.JPG : The railroad corridor as seen from the intersection of Hempstead and Gessner, March 2016. 2016a 005.JPG : Facing down Hempstead Rd. from Gessner at some of the various businesses along the north shoulder. (105).jpg : Abandoned strip center, once home to Richard's Barber Shop. (2).jpg : Closer look at Richard's Barber Shop. Next door is the Mad Bull Club, which dates back to 1969. (4).jpg : Looking inside the abandoned barber shop.   *In 2016 this abandoned building was demolished. (8).jpg : Branding Iron Hamburger stand, near Sprite Dr, also dating back to 1969. (5).jpg : The Gulf station at 14222 Hempstead Rd. opened in 1988, but it was a Mobil station in this 2011 photo. (64).jpg : This warehouse (with it's facade rotting away in this 2011 photo) was later occupied by Keystone Tile. 2013a 065.jpg : An art piece made of welded pipe sections in front of the Airgas plant at Fairbanks-North Houston Rd. and Hempstead. 2016a 044.JPG : Facing the Fairbanks area of Hempstead Rd. from across the tracks on Sommermeyer St., October 2016. 2016a 048.JPG : The intersection of Hempstead Rd. and Tidwell, and some of the businesses lining the highway.  Tidwell Rd. cut through town in the mid-late 1970's. (97).jpg : Shell of a burned out step-van parked on the slab of a demolished store. (134).jpg : Sign for a 24 hour smoke shop, and the old ruins of a liquor store sign. (103).jpg : Temptation, a discreetly labeled adult oriented business.  Building dates back to 1970. 2016a 051.JPG : This is the Temptation business in October 2016.  It appears to be abandoned now. (106).jpg : An unmarked abandoned business warehouse near Fairbanks. (88).jpg : Fairbanks Tractor, 13810 Hempstead Rd., originally built 1969. (circa 2011 photo) 2016a 054.jpg : Fairbanks Tractor as it appeared in April 2016, after the facade was redecorated a little. (19).jpg : Angie's Country Kitchen, 11708 Hempstead Rd., near 34th St. (17).jpg : Puma Barber Shop, operating in the same strip center as Angie's. (21).jpg : Turner Hardware, an independent hardware store that has been in existence since 1950. (61).jpg : Empire Tools, which has since relocated to W. 34th St.  This first building opened in the late 70's. 2016a 039.jpg : The Empire Tools building as it looked in April 2016. (128).jpg : The Hostess Bakery/Thrift Shop, originally opened 1984, shown here in 2011. 2013a 060.jpg : Hostess Bakery after the business closed, with all the delivery trucks sitting still, May 2013. 2013a 061.jpg : Another shot of the fleet of inactive Hostess delivery trucks. 2013a 062.jpg : Another shot of the Hostess trucks with the old wooden sign in the background. 2013a 063.jpg : This Twinkie truck will be delivering no more twinkies. (131).jpg : Old wooden sign for the Hostess Bakery, 2011. (125).jpg : Fast Track Go Karts, opened in the 1980's. (126).jpg : Another photo from Fast Track Go Karts.  Behind it is the sign for the old Esquire Ballroom. 

   One of the forgotten legendary landmarks along Hempstead Rd. was the old Esquire Ballroom.  The Esquire, which opened in 1955, was a country music nightclub on the 1950's outskirts of town, which happened to be just a few miles outside the 610 loop boundary.  Many famous acts graced the stage of the Esquire, including Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, George Jones, and Larry Butler.  The venue closed in 1995, and later was occupied by El Planeta Rojo, a Hispanic nightclub.  As of June 2013, the old Esquire sits vacant, still in its original form.  The sign at the shoulder of Hempstead Rd. is still clearly from the 1950's.
Above photo: The Esquire Ballroom in 1955 2013a 001.jpg :  The roadside sign for the Esquire Ballroom in June 2013. 2016a 041.jpg : The Esquire Ballroom as it looked in April 2016.  In this photo it is a dance club known as Neon Boots.

OLD MOTELS (81).jpg : The City Limits Motel, 11922 Hempstead Rd., opened 1950. (87).jpg : Motts Motel, 13902 Hempstead Rd. at Singer, opened 1976. (92).jpg : National Motel, 13432 Hempstead Rd., opened 1960. (124).jpg : The Lisa Motel, 10650 Hempstead Rd., opened 1995.  Not really old at all. (15).jpg : The Paradise Motel, 8405 Hempstead Rd. inside the 610 Loop, opened 1963. 2013a 057.jpg : Another shot of the Paradise Motel from May 2013.

OLD SERVICE STATIONS (32).jpg : This old service station just west of Gessner dates back to 1950, and is now a small auto repair shop. (26).jpg : Another service station turned repair shop near Bingle Rd. (23).jpg : Fountains & Statuary, which used to be an old service station built in 1955. (24).jpg : The old light ballast for the gas pumps at Fountains & Statuary. (25).jpg : The roadside in front of Fountains & Statuary, a good illustration of the typical wide shoulders found on this portion of Hempstead Rd. (59).jpg : Abandoned gas station site, which is now used by local residents to sell old housewares & furniture on weekends. (60).jpg : Another view of the abandoned station, showing an old air pump & light ballast. (77).jpg : Karbach Auto, a repair shop located just outside the 610 Loop. (78).jpg : Abandoned Regency Carwash at the corner of Hempstead & Dacoma. Built 1975, closed circa 2004..

   Northwest Mall is located at the intersection of US 290 and the 610 Loop, with Hempstead Rd. bordering it to the south.  The mall was bult during the late 1960's, around the same time as Almeda Mall, it's twin on the south side of town.  Northwest Mall was probably best known for AMC Northwest 4, a multi-screen movie theater located in a free standing building on the mall property.  AMC Northwest 4 was one of Houston's first multi-screen theaters.  It was turned into a nightclub called El Chaparral, and finally torn down in 2013 during the freeway interchange remodeling.
   The mall has been renovated & kept up, but the influx of visitors has decreased dramatically in the past decade.  Most of the anchor stores have moved out, and more than half of the retail spaces within the central mall are vacant.  The walkways are quiet and deserted, and it only seems to further detract visitors from the mall, which now has banners pleading the public to shop there. (47).jpg : Eastern face of Northwest Mall, the side facing the 610 Loop. (46).jpg : The 290/610 interchange before construction, during February 2011. (53).jpg : Northwest Mall sign on the south entrance facing Hempstead Rd. (76).jpg : An abandoned auto repair shop building on the west parking lot of the mall. (121).jpg : Close up of Macy's entrance. (Notice the old "F" for Foley's on the doorhandles) (122).jpg : View of Hempstead Rd. and the 610 Loop from the mall parking lot. (251).jpg : The sign for Northwest Mall located along the 290 frontage road (262).jpg : Free standing building on east side of mall parking lot that was demolished 3/13/12. (266).jpg : Demolition of the free standing building to make room for the new 290/610 interchange. (248).jpg : The former AMC Northwest 4 Theater building, now the El Chaparral nightclub. (247).jpg : The front awning of the AMC Northwest 4. (246).jpg : The ticket booth of the AMC Northwest 4. (245).jpg : Standing under the front awning looking towards Northwest Mall.

NEAR THE MALL, OUTSIDE THE LOOP (75).jpg : Abandoned railroad tracks to nowhere. (54).jpg : GME, short for Granite-Marble-Etc., operating from an old building on the south side of the Hempstead corridor railroad tracks. (213).jpg : The Red Hog Saloon, located at Hempstead & Long Point, was opened in 1960. (35).jpg : The deteriorated road surface of Hempstead Rd. between Dacoma and the Loop. (36).jpg : An old mill, perhaps another rice drier, on the south side of the tracks near Dacoma, one of the most prominent structures along Hempstead Rd. that can be seen for miles. 2013a 052.jpg : Another shot of the same structure from May 2013. 2013a 053.jpg : A zoom in shot of the deck at the top of the structure. (71).jpg : An abandoned railroad crossing on Hempstead Rd. just west of Dacoma. (69).jpg : More of the same abandoned railroad crossing, looking left. (70).jpg : More of the same abandoned railroad crossing, looking further left. 2016a 046.jpg : Custom Car Cool air conditioning company, which operates out of old wartime era barracks style buildings, across from Northwest Mall. (April 2016)

INTERESTING FACT: Near this abandoned track is a business park and a street called Fairway Park Dr.  This used to be the location of the Hempstead Rd. Drive In Movie Theater, which was operational between 1950 and 1964.  By 1973, it had been replaced by the business park that occupies the land today.

INSIDE 610 LOOP (227).jpg : A few old school power line posts still line the side of Hempstead Rd. inside the 610 loop boundary. 2013a 054.jpg : A better photo of the old power line posts. 2013a 055.jpg : A close up shot of the power line posts. (45).jpg : Forge USA, located near Hempstead Rd. & 12th St. (44).jpg : Old but not abandoned railroad corridor near 11th St. (226).jpg : Same railroad corridor facing the opposite direction. (202).jpg : Aquadyne plant on 12th St. near Hempstead Rd. (204).jpg : Abandoned railroad corridor behind the Aquadyne plant. (225).jpg : Driving eastbound on Hempstead Rd. inside the 610 Loop. (224).jpg : Driving eastbound on Hempstead Rd. inside the 610 Loop. (223).jpg : Driving eastbound on Hempstead Rd. inside the 610 Loop. (222).jpg : Driving eastbound on Hempstead Rd. approaching the merge onto Washington St. (40).jpg : American Extrusion, a very old factory near the end of Hempstead Rd.  The buildings here date back to the mid to late 1940's, with some being added during the 1960's & 70's. (41).jpg : Abandoned tracks running through the front lot of American Extrusion.  These tracks branch off from the old Eureka corridor, which has been significantly downsized, leaving behind many abandoned track branches such as this one. (42).jpg : A typical vintage roadside burger stand located inside the Loop, now being used for some other purpose. (14).jpg : Abandoned building inside the 610 Loop, last known as La Cocina Hamburger, built 1960. (15).jpg : Paradise Motel, an old motor lodge-type inn built in 1963. (197).jpg : Approaching the end of Hempstead Rd. near the merge with Washington St. (198).jpg : Continued approaching the railroad underpass. (199).jpg : The railroad underpass that marks the end of Hempstead Road into Houston. (269).jpg : Looking down on Hempstead Rd. from the railroad overpass. (270).jpg : The old railroad overpass, part of the Eureka Corridor, built in the 1900's. (271).jpg : The second bridge overpass, which sits right next to the one in the above photo. (273).jpg : Black & white photo of the Eureka Corridor overpass at Hempstead Rd. (274).jpg : Black & white photo of the southern bridge over Hempstead Rd.



   The second surviving segment of Hempstead Rd. is located between Eldridge Parkway and Huffmeister Rd.  The plan for the 290 freeway called for the main lanes to curve around the SH-6 intersection, leaving a short portion of Hempstead Rd. intact.  This road served as an alternate access road to the many businesses in the area, and was not very well maintained.  By the end of 2013, the road surface on what I call the "Cy-Fair" segment of Hempstead Rd. was badly deteriorated.  In 2014 they began tearing up the westbound lanes of Hempstead Rd. near SH-6, and construction had begun on the northeast corner of Hempstead Rd. & Huffmeister, where a new warehouse and business park would be.  The old exit to Huffmeister Rd. from 290 eastbound, which also used some of Hempstead Rd., was closed off, and the old road surface removed. 2013a 027.jpg : The railroad crossing at SH-6 and Hempstead Rd., facing east, May 2013. 2013a 029.jpg : The railroad crossing at SH-6 and Hempstead Rd., facing west, May 2013. 2013a 034.jpg : An eastward view of Hempstead Rd. and the parallel railroad corridor from SH-6, May 2013. 2013a 037.jpg : Another eastward view along Hempstead Rd. (section 2), zoomed in, May 2013. 2012a 045.jpg : A great view of Hempstead Rd. from the SH-6 overpass, facing west, Feb. 2012. 2012a 046.jpg : Another overhead view of Hempstead Rd. from SH-6, showing the intersection below, Feb. 2012. 2013a 039.jpg : This is the point at which Hempstead Rd. ends, and the 290 frontage road begins.  The facility to the right was previously known as Daniel Valve, though the building has been around since at least the early 1960's.  Right at the entrance to the facility, Hempstead Rd. ends, and merges seamlessly with the 290 eastbound frontage road. 2013a 041.jpg : A close-up view at the separation between Hempstead Rd. and the 290 frontage road.  The original black asphalt surface ends abruptly, and becomes the grooved concrete we are used to in modern roadways.  A haphazard filling of asphalt between the two road surfaces has been the band-aid on this issue for decades.  Just one of those little imperfections that was never sorted out during the development of 290 in the 1980's. 2013a 045.jpg : Eastbound on Hempstead Rd. approaching Huffmeister Rd., Nov. 2013. 2013a 046.jpg : Hempstead Rd. at Huffmeister, with the lot on the left freshly cleared of all trees, Nov. 2013. 2013a 047.jpg : The taco stand at the corner of Hempstead and Huffmeiser, Nov. 2013. 2013a 053.jpg : The taco stand again, but facing back along Hempstead Rd., Nov. 2013 2013a 050.jpg : The opposite corner of Hempstead and Huffmeister, before Gateway Northwest business park development, Nov. 2013. 2013a 051.jpg : A view of the cleared land for the business park at Huffmeister. 2013a 052.jpg : Another view of the property line along Hempstead Rd. where Gateway Northwest business park was later built, Nov. 2013. 2013a 004.JPG : Property line along Hempstead Rd. facing Huffmeister, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 005.JPG : Property line along Hempstead Rd. facing Huffmeister, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 006.JPG : Property line along Hempstead Rd. facing Huffmeister (290 overpass in the far distance), Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 007.JPG : Future site of Gateway Northwest business park, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 010.JPG : One of a few very old concrete crossovers along Hempstead Rd. at the site of Gateway Northwest business park. 2013a 011.JPG : Two of the old driveways.  I am not sure what they once led to, but it's gone for sure now. Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 013.JPG : Another shot of the old driveways, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 012.JPG : A shot of the cleared tract of land taken from the 290 frontage road, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 008.JPG : Facing east along Hempstead Rd. between Huffmeister and SH-6, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 009.JPG : Facing east along Hempstead Rd. between Huffmeister and SH-6, Dec. 24, 2013. 2013a 015.JPG : Facing west along Hempstead Rd. from Huffmeister intersection, Dec. 24, 2013. 2014a 049.JPG : Eastbound on Hempstead Rd. following the branch off from the 290 frontage road near Huffmeister, Dec. 2014. 2014a 050.JPG : The new Gateway Northwest warehouse/office complex at the northeast corner of Hempstead & Huffmeister, Dec. 2014. 2014a 051.JPG : Facing east along Hempstead Rd. from Huffmeister signal, Dec. 2014. 2014a 052.JPG : Crossing the Hempstead/Huffmeister intersection facing north along Huffmeister towards 290, Dec. 2014. 2014a 053.JPG : Eastbound on Hempstead Rd. at the SH-6 overpass, Dec. 2014.  Construction has reduced Hempstead to two lanes and has stalled at this point. 2015a 066.JPG : Hempstead Road, facing back towards the SH-6 overpass, Oct. 2015.  Construction on a new direct connector ramp is in progress. 2015a 067.JPG : Hempstead Road, facing inbound during construction of new direct connector ramp from SH-6 North to 290 East, Oct. 2015. 2015a 068.JPG : A new Hyatt hotel being constructed along Hempstead Rd. behind Chuy's and Harris County Smokehouse, Oct. 2015. 2016a 066.JPG : Progress on the new Hyatt hotel on Hempstead Rd., Jan. 2016. 2016a 067.JPG : The new Hyatt hotel going up alongside the recently opened Harris County Smokehouse, Jan. 2016. 2016a 082.jpg : Progress on the new hotel in May 2016. 2016a 083.jpg : Progress on the new hotel in May 2016. 2016a 067.JPG : This new direct connector ramp being built is all that remains of this end of the second segment of Hempstead Rd. 2016a 068.JPG : A zoomed in view facing inbound along the 290 corridor from what used to be Hempstead Rd.  It is now just a construction site. 2016a 069.JPG : Facing west along the Hempstead Road corridor towards the SH-6 overpass.  The hotel on the right is nearly finished, but the state of Hempstead Rd. is poor.  One end is a construction zone, the other end is missing a huge section of the westbound lanes on either side of SH-6, which had been in that configuration for a few years at this point.



   The third surviving section of Hempstead Rd. is located between House & Hahl Rd. and Skinner Rd. in the town of Cypress.  This segment, much like section 2, is the result of the main lanes of the 290 freeway having bypassed part of the Hempstead corridor.  Just beyond Skinner Rd., the freeway makes a bend to the north of Hempstead Rd., and then bends south again just after the heart of Cypress.  The old section of Hempstead Rd. was renamed Business 290 (I'm not sure why), and serves as an alternate route for residents of Black Horse Ranch.  This section of road contains the old Cypress buildings mentioned in the "Cypress" section of my Towns page. 17 Pic 09.jpg : Hempstead Rd. section 3 running through "downtown" Cypress, Jan. 2006. 17 Pic 65.jpg : Juergen's service station along Hempstead Rd., March 2008. 17 Pic 64.jpg : Cypress Station Grill under construction, Hempstead Rd. & Spring Cypress, March 2008. 17 Pic 88.jpg : Remains of an old roadside electric sign near Juergen's Hall, 2011. 17 Pic 89.jpg : Facing west along Hempstead Rd. near Spring Cypress Rd., 2011. 17 Pic 44.jpg : The shoulder of Hempstead Rd. across from Cypresstop Historical Park, June 2009. 17 Pic 02.jpg : Old Rice Drier on Hempstead Rd. at House & Hahl, March 2005. Torn down in 2009.



   The fourth section of Hempstead Rd. begins in Waller, Texas, just a few blocks east of Hegar Rd.  At this point, the main lanes of US 290 veer off to the north of the Hempstead Rd. alignment, leaving behind the rest of the old road all the way into Hempstead, where it ends.  Prior to 1997, the 290 main lanes did not extend into Waller, and Hempstead Rd. was still the main highway through the city.  All traffic heading to and from Austin had to travel through the heart of Waller, as well as Cypress. 

    Today, the fourth section of Hempstead Highway is one that can easily be bypassed by travelers, but also one of the most interesting for history buffs.  At this point, I do not have exact dates of construction for Hempstead Highway, but it appears to have once been an improvement on existing roadways, much like the Aggie Expressway will one day be an improvement on the existing State Highway 249.

  If you have ever been to the heart of Waller, Texas, you will know that on the south side of the railroad tracks, running parallel to Hempstead Rd., there is a narrow, two lane road known as Old Washington Rd., which serves as an access road to many residences and commercial properties in Waller. It should also be noted that early 20th century maps of Harris County show the Hempstead Rd. corridor labeled simply "Washington Rd." all the way into Houston. The name Washington comes from George Washington Hockley, not the first president of the United States.  Traveling inbound towards central Houston, Hempstead Rd. ends and becomes Washington St. just before crossing over I-10. I suppose at one time, the entire length of road between central Houston and Waller was known as Washington Rd., and was later superseded by Hempstead Rd. in the 20th century.  After Hempstead Rd. took over, the remaining segment of Washington Rd. in Waller County was renamed "Old Washington Rd."

   Traveling west from Waller, Old Washington Rd. ends, and is continued by another similar road called "Old Houston Hwy", which leads directly into the town of Hempstead, Tx.  Both Old Washington and Old Houston Roads are two lane, asphalt roads, with reduced speed limits, and limited development along the shoulders.  In fact, most of Old Houston Rd. leading into Hempstead looks very much like it would have looked 70 years ago.  With the right kind of eyes, it starts to become clear that this little side street was, at one time, a major highway to Houston, back in the days before television sets, and before cars had huge tail fins. (142).jpg : Intersection of Hempstead Rd. and Hegar Rd. in Hockley, Tx, Feb. 2011.  This Exxon station/corner store, which has since closed, was once a popular stop for travelers on Hempstead Rd. heading to places like Austin.  This intersection was bypassed by the 290 main lanes during the late 1990's (144).jpg : Typical roadside scenery along this section of Hempstead Rd....old barns, farm houses & power lines. (150).jpg : An old building on the side of Hempstead Rd., Feb. 2011.  It has since been demolished. (153).jpg : Westbound on Hempstead Rd. between Hockley and Prairie View, Feb. 2011. (154).jpg : Westbound on Hempstead Rd. between Hockley and Prairie View, Feb. 2011. 2012 071.jpg : The roadside scenery in the heart of Waller, Tx, along Hempstead Rd., Mar. 2012. 2012 072.jpg : Blue Bonnet Antiques, built out of an obviously older building in Waller, Mar. 2012. 2012 073.jpg : Old sign for the Kopper Kettle, an old restaurant in Waller, Tx, Mar. 2012.  I am currently in search of more information on this restaurant, when it flourished, and when it shut down.  The building certainly looks more like a warehouse than a diner, so I am not quite sure how to explain this beautiful abandonment, other than to say that the sign itself was worth immortalizing, in the event that someone tears it down. 2012 076.jpg : Another view of the Kopper Kettle sign with a vintage filter applied to it, Mar. 2012. 2012 077.jpg : Another view of the Kopper Kettle sign in black and white, Mar. 2012.

   On my way down Hempstead Rd. in March 2012, I stopped into this auto salvage yard I saw called Mike's Auto Parts, on the outskirts of Hempstead.  My attention was drawn to it by an old 1958 Buick sedan parked in front of the building.  I asked the owner behind the counter if he specialized in parts for older vehicles, as I had a 1975 Dodge at home that I was always collecting spare parts for.  Unfortunately, he did not have very many older cars left in his inventory, but I got an informative story out of him anyway.  He explained to me the regret of having crushed so many older cars after scrap prices went up, because now that he had crushed and recycled most of his old iron, collectors from all over were coming to his yard looking for old parts...sometimes people with lots of money to support their hot rodding habits.  He then told me about the plans to develop the Hempstead corridor drastically over the next ten or more years, and how it would likely force some businesses like his to close.  He had been running his salvage operation for decades, but the end loomed on the horizon for his salvage yard, and big changes were expected to come his way. 2012 080.jpg : Mike's Auto Parts, just outside of Hempstead, Tx on Hempstead Rd. 2012 082.jpg : The old 1958 Buick sitting outside Mike's Auto Parts. 2012 083.jpg : Another photo of the 1958 Buick. 2012 084.jpg : Another photo of the 1958 Buick.


The following pictures were taken in February 2011 in the town of Hempstead, to show the numerous older buildings and houses that have been converted, retrofitted, or repurposed for present day businesses.  Unlike Houston, which prefers to demolish and rebuild, most of Hempstead's infrastructure is from the early to mid 20th century.  This is also where Hempstead Rd. comes to an end, and intersects with State Highway 159. (155).jpg : A Wal-Mart store along Hempstead Rd. that still retains its original "non supercenter" design. (158).jpg (159).jpg (160).jpg (163).jpg (164).jpg (166).jpg (167).jpg (168).jpg (170).jpg : Hempstead's old water tower, which is identical to the water towers in many other rural Texas towns. (184).jpg : Waller County Courthouse. (172).jpg : Looking back down Hempstead Rd. near SH159, the end of Hempstead Rd. (182).jpg : Abandoned Shell station across from Lawrence Marshall dealership.


I came across this long abandoned gas station, located near the vacant Lawrence Marshall car dealership in Hempstead, Tx.  The building had no markings, but I would guess it to be from the 1950's era, and has probably been vacant for several decades.  Most of the roof has fallen in, and the old drive-on lift is still intact. (173).jpg : Feb. 2011 (174).jpg : Feb. 2011. (175).jpg : Feb. 2011. (176).jpg : Feb. 2011.


Not abandoned, just in need of major restoration, is this old inn, also in the heart of Hempstead. (183).jpg : Feb. 2011.


This massive sprawling auto dealership was once Lawrence Marshall Chevrolet, one of the biggest auto dealers outside of Houston.  Lawrence Marshall was a major source of employment for the people of Hempstead, and after it closed down following the 2008 recession, and the subsequent closure of many General Motors dealerships, the town suffered heavily.  Today, the massive lot sits alongside the frontage road of US 290 at the continued portion of State Highway 6. (177).jpg : Feb. 2011. (178).jpg : Feb. 2011. (179).jpg : Feb. 2011. (180).jpg : Feb. 2011. (181).jpg : Feb. 2011. (192).jpg : Feb. 2011.


Parallel to Hempstead Rd. is its predecessor, Old Houston Highway, a simple two lane asphalt highway that spans between the towns of Waller and Hempstead.  Most of this road remains relatively unchanged when compared to the growth seen along Hempstead Road, and although Old Houston Highway is not part of Harris County, I thought it was an excellent example of an early road that one might have traveled on in west Houston during the pre-war days.  Because of the lack of modernization along the roadsides, it is very much like stepping back in time.  The trees are the same.  The railroad bridges and power lines are the same.  Almost none of today's modern infrastructure has spoiled this classic arterial road. 2012 099.jpg : Looking east along Old Houston Hwy. near Hempstead, TX., Mar. 2012. 2012 104.jpg : An old deck truss railroad bridge hiding among the trees along Old Houston Highway, Mar. 2012.  The bridge is located between 359 and Hempstead. 2012 106.jpg : Another view of the railroad bridge. 2012 052.jpg : Black & white photo of the railroad bridge. 2012 046.jpg : Black & white photo of Old Houston Highway, eastbound near Waller, TX.