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Culture: Corpus Christi Streets – 1839

Above: Corpus Christi, Texas in 1887. Lithograph, 21 x 28 in. Lithographer unknown. Corpus Christi Public Library – Wikimedia Commons View Full Size…

When Col. H.L. Kinney founded Corpus Christi in 1839, he named some of the first city streets after wildlife native to the area: Buffalo, Antelope, Oso (bear), Leopard and Tiger (now gone). Although all of these animals are unheard of in the Coastal Bend today, they were relatively common sights in the early 19th century.

People think of the Antelope as a West Texas animal, but on New Years day in 1853, explorer John Russel Bartlett reported “deer and antelope were usually grazing in herds from ten to fifty” on the coastal plains within a days ride of Corpus Christi.

The leopard in Leopard Street likely refers to the ocelot or “leopard cat” as they were called back then. Ocelots have since been cleared from the coastal brush, and only small populations of the cats cling on in far South Texas. There was also a Tiger Street, which is no longer in existence, and Texas settlers often used the word tiger interchangeably with–jaguar!

Now these street signs in downtown Corpus Christi stand as quiet reminders of what was once a dramatically different South Texas landscape.

Source: “Wildlife and Man in Texas” by Robin Doughty & “Street Stories – The History Behind Corpus Christi Street Names” KIII-TV

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