Finding A Place in Corpus Christi
By Jillian Becquet
By: Jillian Becquet Photo Courtesy of: Public domain; Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USF34-034513-D
Before Airbnbs and hundreds of motels, Corpus Christi’s tourists flocked to North Beach’s tourist courts. Tourist courts offered furnished rooms in stand-alone buildings – so no sharing walls, like in today’s hotels and motels, since the buildings had room for a car to drive between them. Many tourist courts in Corpus Christi’s tourist hub of North Beach were owned by local people and were named for them, like J.D. Brown’s Court. Other names played on the destination, like Shell Beach Cottages and Beach Haven Court.
When staying in a tourist court on North Beach when this photo was taken in the late ’30s, visitors could easily walk to grocery stores, a confectionery, drug stores, souvenir shops, a handful of restaurants, and Corpus Christi’s biggest attractions. Even as the Great Depression hit, Corpus Christi was still a destination and tourists enjoyed the leisure activities of North Beach.
In the summer of 1940, with WWII already underway overseas, the construction of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi began at breakneck pace. It took over 9,000 people to finish the Naval Air Station, and they soon snapped up any residences they could find. The speed of the boom meant “no vacancy” signs at many tourist courts as the residential construction couldn’t keep pace.
After hurricanes and the increase in hotels, you won’t see tourist courts as you drive through North Beach these days … but you do still feel glimmers of that North Beach vibe those tourists all came to experience.