Take a Look: Houston’s Growth

Houston has grown exponentially since its establishment in 1836. After Hurricane Harvey, rapid development has been blamed for extensive flooding. Take a look for yourself at the history of our city’s evolution from the humble capital of the Republic of Texas to a booming metropolis and fourth most populous city in the United States.

19th Century

1836: Houston is co-founded by the Allen Brothers, Augustus Chapman, and John Kirby

1836: City Cemetery, Houston’s first cemetery, and still stands today as Founders Memorial Cemetery

June 5, 1837: The Congress of the Republic of Texas grants Houston a city charter, and Houston becomes the provisional capital of Texas

1839: The capital of the Republic of Texas moves to Austin

February 1895: Houston suffers record snowfall that buried city in 20 feet of snow, does not melt for days

20th Century

Turn of the century: Oil is discovered in Texas, signaling the dawn of a new industry

1900: Houston population is 44,633

1902: President Theodore Roosevelt approves a million dollar fund to construct the Houston Ship Channel

1904: Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library open, later becoming known as the Houston Public Library

1910: Houston population is 78,800

1912: The Rice Institute, later known as Rice University, opens

November 10, 1914: President Woodrow Wilson opens the Houston Ship Channel, which becomes part of the Port of Houston

1920s: Texas oil boom causes people to move into the city, first big population boom

1920: Houston population is 138,476

1925: KPRC radio begins broadcasting

1927: As a part of the Houston Independent School District (HISD), Houston Junior College opens its doors

1930: Houston population is 292,352

1934: Houston Junior College becomes a four-year school and changes its name to the University of Houston

1935: Massive flood in Houston kills eight people, results in creation of the Harris County Flood Control District

1937: Houston Municipal Airport opens, later becoming the William P. Hobby Airport

1939: The University of Houston moves to its permanent southeastern downtown location

1940: Houston dismantles the last of its streetcar system

1942: Robertson Stadium opens as Houston Public School Stadium

1945: Separating from HISD, the University of Houston becomes a private university

1947: Houston defeats the first ever referendum for citywide zoning

1947: Texas State College For Negroes, known as Texas Southern University since 1951, is the first public university in the Houston area.

1948: Construction on the city’s first freeway begins as the Gulf Freeway, which is also Texas’ first freeway, on U.S. Highway 75

1950: KPRC TV begins broadcasting

1958: Zapata Petroleum opens

1961: Hurricane Carla brings heavy storms and rainfall

1961: NASA selects Houston as the site for its Manned Spacecraft Center

September 14, 1961: Sharpstown Mall opens — the first indoor, air-conditioned mall in the world

1962: For the second time, Houston voters deny a zoning referendum

August 18, 1983: Hurricane Alicia

1963: The University of Houston ends its status as a private institution and becomes a state university, entering the Texas State of Higher Education System

1963: The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, then known as the Manned Spacecraft Center, opens on land that has been donated by Rice University

1963: The Humble Building, then the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, was built

April 9, 1965: Houston Astrodome opens

1969: Houston International Airport, now George Bush International Airport, opens

1970s: Because of the Arab Oil Embargo caused Texas’ oil to boom, people from Red Belt states, like New York and Pennsylvania, moved to Houston for jobs

1974: Houston hosts its first Super Bowl, at Rice Stadium

1976: The Houston Metropolitan Research Center is established

May 11, 1976: A tanker truck carrying ammonia crashes at 610 and Highway 59, killing seven people

1977: Founding of the Houston Area Women’s Center

1977: Houston hosts the National Women’s Conference

1978: After buying Texas International, Continental Airlines moves its headquarters to Houston

1978-1980: The improvement of traffic signals at major highway intersections, making Houston the first city to modernize its signage

1979: Land from Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction was annexed into the city limits

1980s: The end of the Arab Oil Embargo causes the Houston population bubble to burst

1982: In downtown Houston, the Texas Commerce Bank Tower is completed, then the tallest building west of the Mississippi, but still today the tallest five-sided building in the world

1986: Houston takes part in the celebration of Texas’ sesquicentennial, NASA’s 25th Anniversary, and the Houston International Festival with the Rendezvous Houston concert, which was, for a time, the largest outdoor concert in history, and was even entered into the Guinness Book of World Records

June 1, 1987: As a part of Texas Medical Center expansion, the Shamrock Hilton Hotel is demolished, despite protests from preservation societies

1989: The Houston Press newspaper begins production

1990: Houston population is 1,630,553

July 9-11, 1990: Houston hosts the 16th G-17 Summit

November 1991: A referendum passed that mandated term limits for city officials within the city of Houston

October 1994: The highest waters ever recorded in the San Jacinto Watershed (even higher than the later Allison storm), a 100-year storm from the remnants of Hurricane Rosa, became known as the Great Flood of 1994.  Hurricane Rosa left a stalled tropical depression over Houston, 20 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours, as well as the largest recorded volume of water in the San Jacinto River.  While 22 people were killed, petroleum lines bursts and were set aflame, injuring 540 people.

1995: City’s website comes online

1996: The Kingwood community is annexed as a part of the city of Houston

21st Century

June 5-9, 2001: Hurricane Allison, a 500-year event, floods much of the city

November 2001: The Houston based company, Enron, goes bankrupt, after accounting scandals

2002: The Baitus Samee Mosque is built

2003: Halliburton’s headquarters relocate from Dallas to Houston

January 1, 2004: The METRORail opens to the public at 1 p.m. CST as the city’s first reintroduction of the rail system, the city’s first since June 1940

July 30, 2004: City Council votes for a referendum for curbside parking

2004: Houston hosts Super Bowl XXXVIII and the MLB All-Star Game

2004: Citgo’s headquarters relocates from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Houston

December 24, 2004: Freak snowstorm brings a record Christmas snowfall

September 1, 2004: Houston welcomes 125,000 displaced residents of Alabama and Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  The Reliant Astrodome is converted into a food bank and shelter.

June 19, 2006: The worst major storm since Allison floods southeast Houston, causing homes and roads to flood

2008: Hurricane Ike caused flood damages, and power failure

2010: Houston population is 2,100,263; megaregion population is 19,728,244

May 25-26, 2015: Historical Houston Flood destroyed most of the city

April 18, 2016: 9 counties near the city were flooded

January 2017: Houston hosts its third Super Bowl at NRG Stadium

August 2017: Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston via flooding homes and roads

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