August 30th, 1836 – Houston is Launched!

Today-In-History

August 30th, 1836, two real estate entrepreneurs—Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen—from New York, purchased 6,642 acres of land along Buffalo Bayou, Texas with the intent of founding a city. The Allen brothers decided to name the city after Sam Houston, the popular general at the Battle of San Jacinto, who was elected President of Texas in September 1836, and thus was born Houston, Texas.

Old_map-Houston-1873

Houston was granted incorporation on June 5th, 1837, with James S. Holman becoming its first mayor. In the same year, Houston became the county seat of Harrisburg County (now Harris County) and the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas. In 1840, the community established a chamber of commerce in part to promote shipping and waterborne business at the newly created port on Buffalo Bayou.

Allen Brothers

The Allen Brothers, founders of Houston, Texas.

By 1860, Houston had emerged as a commercial and railroad hub for the export of cotton. Railroad spurs from the Texas inland converged in Houston, where they met rail lines to the ports of Galveston and Beaumont. During the American Civil War, Houston served as a headquarters for General John Bankhead Magruder, who used the city as an organization point for the Battle of Galveston. After the Civil War, Houston businessmen initiated efforts to widen the city’s extensive system of bayous so the city could accept more commerce between downtown and the nearby port of Galveston. By 1890, Houston was the railroad center of Texas.

In 1900, after Galveston was struck by a devastating hurricane, efforts to make Houston into a viable deep-water port were accelerated. The following year, oil discovered at the Spindletop oil field near Beaumont prompted the development of the Texas petroleum industry. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt approved a $1 million improvement project for the Houston Ship Channel. By 1910 the city’s population had reached 78,800, almost doubling from a decade before. African-Americans formed a large part of the city’s population, numbering 23,929 people, or nearly one-third of the residents.

President Woodrow Wilson opened the deep-water Port of Houston in 1914, seven years after digging began. By 1930, Houston had become Texas’ most populous city and Harris the most populous county.


 

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