Aug 31, 2022 - News

Finding an 80-year-old typo in Houston

Photo of a four-foot-tall concrete pillar inscribed with with "Calument"
Something's not right. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

I have a penchant for spotting wayfinding typos on Houston streets, and this decades-old road sign near my apartment is my next target.

Catch up quick: Houston has thousands of concrete pillars marking street corners all around the city that were installed in the 1940s during the Oscar Holcombe administration.

  • Holcombe announced the initiative in November 1940, according to a transcript of the speech.
  • "Houston has needed badly a complete marking of our streets," Holcombe said in the radio address. "I am happy to announce that the Washington government has finally approved my plan for installing within the next few weeks 5,000 concrete markers for our streets."
  • Houston Public Works claims Holcombe wanted the pillars to be installed because the city's famed blue tiles, installed sometime before 1930, were too dirty to read.

Reality check: Calumet Street doesn't contain the letter N.

  • Yet, the pillar at the corner of Calumet and Jackson reads "Calument" instead of "Calumet."

The bottom line: This appears to be the only pillar on the street with the misspelling.

  • Having existed nearly 80 years, I don't imagine the typo will be corrected any time soon.

Have you spotted a typo in your neighborhood? Show me! Email [email protected].

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