History of Houston
Founded by brothers Augustus and John Allen, who paid $1.40 per acre for 6,642 acres of land near Buffalo Bayou in 1838, Houston was marketed to land-hungry citizens in the East and in Europe. The growing town was the seat of the Republic of Texas for three years. When the capital was moved to Austin, Houstonians who remained were determined to keep the town alive, and hit upon the idea of developing a port for shipping of livestock and crops.
The Houston Ship Channel opened in 1914, snaking its way to the Gulf of Mexico just in time to help Houston profit from the war in Europe. Houston now ranks as one of the world’s busiest ports.
After oil was discovered in 1901 at Spindletop, just east of Houston in Beaumont, the boom was on. By the time of the Depression, there were 40 oil companies operating from Houston. In the late 70s, upheaval in the Middle East drove up the price of oil and Houston’s economy prospered. People began moving in at the rate of 1,000 a week, and it seemed there would be no end to the new riches. But in the 1980s, oil and real estate took a beating, and Houston’s economy hit a low point.
Today, the city is benefiting from a concerted effort at diversification in the business sector. Energy is still a major player, but technology, healthcare and many other fields are now vital elements in Houston’s prosperity. New landmarks for the city include Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros), the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Reliant Stadium (home of the new Houston Texans football team), the new 1,200-room downtown convention center hotel, and The Toyota Center, a new downtown arena for the Houston Rockets, Comets and Astros.
Houston Fast Facts:
- Houston’s population is 1.9 million.
- Houston is centrally located on the Gulf coast and is easily accessed via any of its three airports and using hometown carrier Continental Airlines.
- Houston’s weather is comfortable most of the year. The average winter maximum temperature is 64°F, average summer maximum temperature is 92°F, average spring maximum temperature is 78°F and average fall maximum temperature is 81°F.
- Houston has the third largest population of working artists in the U.S., and is one of the few American cities with permanent ballet, opera, symphony, and theater companies performing year-round.
- Houston’s Texas Medical Center institutions are ranked among the top hospitals in the country, and serve patients from around the world.
- Houston’s diverse culture means that more than 90 languages are spoken here.