HHR Celebrates 20 Years of Houston Freeways

Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. Today, we’re covering a topic that is close to my heart. It’s not rooted in retail, but is retail adjacent; Houston Freeways. The book Houston Freeways was published 20 years ago by Oscar “Erik” Slotboom, a native Houstonian who at the time was residing in Austin. Slotboom’s ambition seemed simple: to document and write the histories of the freeways that had helped shape his hometown. Slotboom had already worked on detailing some of his earliest research online via the website TexasFreeway.com, which came online in 2000. When his book was published in 2003, Texas Freeway had grown by leaps and bounds. Slotboom retired his first website and began publishing on HoustonFreeways.com to focus on more current matters. This was also around the point where I found Texas Freeways, and my earliest concepts for preserving “niche” history began to form. Although I could not get my hands on a copy of the book, I was content to look at the photos online. In 2006, Slotboom, who had recently moved to Dallas, started another new site, DFWFreeways.info. With his time split between the two sites, the updates to HoustonFreeways began to grow infrequent but still occurred, such as the 2008 Five-Year Retrospective. At this time, DFW Freeways had grown tremendously, and Texas Freeways had been relaunched by an associate of Slotboom’s named Ron Jackson. Slotboom would continue to update his two websites, eventually publishing a DFW Freeways Book in 2014.

I-45 and I-10 after the addition of the “flying” HOV lanes. Photo Source

Slotboom’s methodology is one of the reasons behind HHR’s creation and, to put it lightly, has been a massive inspiration to my writing. In reading the work of Erik Slotboom and those he has inspired, it’s incredible to see many of his predictions that have come true (I would highly advise you to check out the Five-Year Update if you haven’t already). More recently, Slotboom has made PDF copies of both of his books available for free via the websites. Texas Freeway has also been relaunched again by a new operator in 2019, who has spent a reasonable amount of time updating the site’s backend to ensure it remains online. These websites speak volumes about the free availability of information, which is something I try to promote through HHR. It’s no exaggeration that without Houston Freeways, there would be Houston Historic Retail.


  1. The secret origin of Houston Historic Retail!

    I had been following Slotboom’s sites for a while when he announced the publication of Houston Freeways. I immediately grabbed a copy at the first place I could find it, the Borders on Alabama at Kirby. It is a wonderful resource and an absolute treasure trove of information about our city’s history.

  2. It is hard to believe Oscar Slotboom’s Houston Freeways book is 20 years old now! Given the rapid development/re-development of the freeways here, some of the newer photos in the book are starting to look quite historic so maybe it isn’t so hard to believe, but I remember coming across the book when it was fairly new. The level of research in the book is really outstanding. Given the relationship between the freeways, frontage roads, and commercial development, this really is an important book for understanding Houston retail history. Furthermore, the historic retail photos in the book are great to see from a retail history perspective!

    Slotboom made the PDF version of the book freely available many years ago and it really is great that such an important book is available to read for free online. It goes without saying that I highly recommend it. I’ve only recently become aware of Slotboom’s DFW Freeways book and I have read a little bit of it. I don’t have as much of a connection to DFW freeways as Houston ones, obviously, but I’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve read so far.

    1. The 20-year-old Houston Freeways book by Oscar Slotboom is a fantastic tool for learning about Houston’s retail history. It offers a high caliber of study on the connection between frontage roads, freeways, and commercial development. The book is a vital tool for comprehending the city’s retail ecosystem and is freely accessible online. The DFW Freeways book by Slotboom is also extremely recommended.