Jerome Farbar writes about the commission government that was in effect in Houston beginning in 1901. This government contracted the paving of the roads, extending public parks, deepening the shipping channel, and other civic projects. Also, this was a more centralized form of government in contrast to the ward style government that proceeded it. Now the mayor and four commissioners make decisions instead of twelve ward officers. Under this new government, government employees face the same job insecurity as those in the public sector, “as in the directorate of a corporation, its officers can be removed by a majority vote, while all department heads are responsible to the chief and various employees responsible to the department head and the mayor.” (232) This change in government put more power into the hands of those who ran Houston so they could get more things done. Their contracting of the paving of the roads along with other building projects probably helped to employ W. L. Macatee, and if not directly then the expansion that this government helped to create certainly added to the success of Macatee and Sons.
To better understand Macatee’s role in the development of Houston it’s important to understand how Houston developed and what was going on in the time that Macatee was on the scene. “The Destiny of Buffalo Bayou” written by Andrew Forest Muir describes how the counties along the lower Brazos and Colorado Rivers became exceptionally successful. One of the reasons that these areas were so prosperous is because of the access to salt water ports that allowed trading of goods and materials produced on plantations which thrived off the rich soil in the region. However, there were natural obstacles in these river and their shallow depth made it difficult to transport goods over a great length of them. These obstacles hindered Houston’s entrance into the world exporting scene. Another reason for this areas success is the introduction of railroads and roads from other states, because this increased possibilities for export. The main reason for Houston’s success, Muir says, is the deepening of the Bayou which created a shipping channel. Houston became a booming port after the dredging of the channel because it allowed more bigger boats to enter. With its increased accessibility Houston took away trade from other cities and found their way to the center of the action. All of this information helps to give dates to all of these changes that were occurring in Houston when the Macatees were starting to grow their business. Since they worked in building materials their success was helped by Houston’s expansion and new connection to international and domestic markets.