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Weird Laws in Houston | AMLI Residential

Oct 28th, 2020

The world has changed so much in the last few years, and even more so in the last century! We can see that change in our architecture, our photographs, our art and our society, as well as in everything else around us. 

One of the most interesting places to see that change, however, is in our laws that govern the land we live in. We’ve paged through the history books and found those old, antiquated laws that so clearly show how everyday life has changed. Like the old Dallas law that criminalizes playing ball on the street, or the law that outlaws zoot suits in Los Angeles. These old laws give us a glimpse into what life was like not so long ago, and they can all make for a well-stocked case of local trivia for your next trivia night!

So, if you live in our luxury Houston apartments for rent, you’re in luck! We’ve found some funny Houston laws that have been forgotten by the steady march of time, as well as some old Texas laws sprinkled in, too.

Weird laws in Houston and Texas

  • Forget about game days and casual barbeques with friends, as it’s illegal to purchase beer on Sundays in Houston. 
  • If you’re looking to try your hand at making a charcuterie board, then make sure you aren’t buying any illegal cheese! Limburger cheese is prohibited to buy or sell on Sundays, but it’s not too hard to figure out why. This 19th-century Dutch cheese has a reputation for smelling like stinky feet, and the reason may surprise you! The brine that the cheese is soaked in often includes ingredients like beer and wine, which makes the cheesy surface perfect for certain bacteria. One of the most common bacteria to grow on Limburger cheese is Brevibacterium linens, which, funnily enough, is the same bacteria responsible for human body odor. Foot odor, to be precise. So yes, Limburger cheese definitely smells like stinky feet, and it’s illegal to buy it on Sundays. Thanks, Houston, for protecting our noses for one day each week.
  • Builders of model airplanes and cars should certainly watch out in Galveston. Apparently, it’s against the law to inhale the fumes from model glue! So, either get really good at holding your breath, or invest in some quality nose plugs if you want to continue your craft.
  • Also in Galveston, it’s illegal to sit on a sidewalk. In fact, the mere act of resting your feet on a nice sunny patch of concrete can cost you up to $500 in fines! 
  • There are a lot of laws regarding Sundays, it seems. Don’t pick Galveston for a leisurely Sunday drive, as it’s absolutely against the law to drive a “motor car” (if that doesn’t tell you the age of the law, I don’t know what will) down Broadway before noon on a Sunday. At 12:01, though, the street’s fair game!
  • In most places (i.e. all places) it’s pretty unbecoming to be inebriated in a public park. However, in Galveston you may obtain a special permit from the director of parks and recreation, which allows you to get drunk in any city park. 
  • If you follow college football in your state, then you may be familiar with the Lamar University Cardinals from Beaumont, Texas. What you may not know, however, is that there is an antiquated law officially outlawing collegiate football at Lamar University. How and why, we just don’t know.
  • This seems like more of a general “be nice to others” concept, but Port Arthur has taken a very clear stance on this important topic. It’s illegal to emit obnoxious odors while in an elevator, so just… don’t do it. 
  • Texas law prohibits one from selling their own eyeballs.
  • One particularly interesting Texas law requires criminals to notify their victims at least 24 hours in advance of committing the crime. So, if they’re following the law to break the law then it’s okay, but if they disobey the law to break the law, then they’re not? Sure. Okay.
  • Want to get married? Skip the whole court document process and get married in the old Texas style! All you have to do is publicly introduce your partner as your husband or wife three times and voila! Texas law states that you’re legally married. Technically, this is part of a common-law marriage practice that still exists today.
  • Home-brewers, beware. The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it includes a recipe for homemade beer!
  • If two trains arrive at a train crossing, they must both come to a full stop. No one is allowed to move forward until the other one has passed. And yes, you read that right. 
  • The fashion police is a real thing here in Texas. According to an old Texas law, you may not tuck your pant leg into your boot unless you own ten or more cattle. So, either buy some cows or give up on style forever. Your choice. 
  • Don’t let your camel roam freely in the street in Texas. Although it would be awesome, it would also be illegal. 
  • Also against Texas law is the milking of another person’s cow. 
  • Urban buffalo hunting is particularly difficult in Texas, especially considering that it's illegal to shoot a buffalo from a second-story hotel window. 

These laws are, to say the very least, a little outdated. We no longer base our fashion habits on how many cows we own, and we certainly don’t have buffalo hunts through our streets. Maybe at one point in time it was illegal to drive a motor car through Galveston on a Sunday because the motor car was a brand-new invention and very out-of-place among the horses and carriages, but now the world has changed. And although these strange laws haven’t been officially retired from the law books, they are nonetheless a great source of entertainment for us all, whether we live in AMLI's luxury Houston apartments or not.

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/WilliamCho

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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