The highway system in the United States before the advent of the interstate system was particularly helpful to downtowns as long-distance travelers would frequently pull off for lodging and meals in any number of towns along the journey. Midland was no exception.
When Highway 80 was built, it was called "The Broadway of America." One of its original objectives was that it be used as a transcontinental highway when people couldn't traverse Route 66 to the north in the harsh winters. Although 80 stretched the width of the country, from San Diego to Tybee Island, Ga., and itself would one day be replaced by an interstate just like Route 66 was, U.S. 80 never gained the same fame as the nostalgic Chicago-Los Angeles roadway.
John Howard Griffin summarized Midland's fast growth in the Roaring 20s in his book, "Land of the High Sky," and the construction of Highway 80 through Midland wasn't the only thing exciting to happen to our town at that time.
"Bankers, cattlemen, merchants and professional men quickly seized on the almost staggering opportunities that lay within Midland's reach. An advanced corps of young land men, geologists, promoters and executives, representing both majors and independents, poured into the cowtown. They occupied every available room. Knowledgeable and trained, they were the class a town like Midland would welcome as citizens.
"A number married Midland girls. This entrenched them more solidly in the community and proved that their interest in Midland was permanent.
"Midland rushed to build. Business men reasoned that other things being equal, oil companies would move to town where comfortable and civilized facilities were made available. The Llano Hotel was modernized, but the advanced guard of newcomers filled it to overflowing.
"Clarence Scharbauer decided to put up another first-class hotel, and immediately ordered construction. The Scharbauer Hotel was paid for as it was built, an almost unheard of procedure. Across the street, Dr. J.B. Thomas pioneer Midland physician, erected an office building. It was also paid for as it was constructed.
"Another builder, a former U.S. senator from Montana, T.S. Hogan, came. He had been active in oil in Colorado and Montana. When Gulf Oil Corporation made discoveries in Upton County, he sent his son, Fred, later to become a Midland independent operator, to scout possibilities. Senator Hogan followed and for two months moved quietly from one town to another throughout the area, and on Tuesday, September 27, 1927, the Midland Daily Telegram carried this front page headline: "Hogan says he's ready to help build Midland into city."
Midland's first real boom time was the 1920s, and by the end of that decade, the Hogan Building would later prove to be the very reason the city would come to be known as the oil capital of the Permian Basin and beyond.