Houston history involves land deals, intrigue with the Mexican government, and a giant governor with a dream for a city. Before Houston became the city most commonly confused as the capital of Texas (it’s Austin), it was an expanse of flat, cheap land that made several opportunistic families very rich and influential.
Learn about the history of Houston to put its present into context. From land development to a trade titan, Houston has undergone many changes in its time. All of them, evidently, have been devoted to making Houston bigger.
Early Houston History
1836 begins Houston’s tumultuous history with General Sam Houston’s military victory for independence from Mexico. Thus, Houston’s history begins with a bloody victory by a giant of a man who personified the new territory’s resolve. The battle, known as the Battle of San Jacinto, became a founding point of Texas pride.
Augustus and John Allen founded Houston later that year, buying 6,642 acres of land for a dollar and a half an acre. This patch of land was incorporated into the Republic of Texas when Sam Houston, then the new republic’s president, authorized its inclusion in 1837.
Houston Becomes a Trading Center
As freight and railroad routes intervened near the coast in Houston on their way to trading centers in Galveston, Houston grew into a flourishing center of industry and trade. Though Houston did not become the state capital, it became its major center for commerce throughout the 1800s.
They widened the Buffalo Bayou so it could receive more merchant vessels, leading to prosperity for the Port of Houston. Galveston floundered in the competition and suffered a deadly hurricane in 1900, leaving Houston to claim ownership of the entire region’s commerce. In 1901, oil discovered near Beaumont secured the city’s prosperous future.
Houston History to Today
With shipbuilding, steelworks, and oil refineries working at full steam, Houston became a bustling city center, home to new automobiles and skyscrapers. Tycoons brought industrial sophistication to the commercial empire of the Houston landscape. It continued to flourish with new industrialists moving to the territory to secure their factories along the valuable port.
It’s no accident that “Houston” was the first word spoken on the moon. Its industry progressed so quickly that Houston was the logical place for NASA’s command center. About 200 major oil and manufacturing firms moved to Houston in the 1970s and 1980s. That only furthered its status as an industrial giant.
Today, Houston is the nation’s 4th-largest city, a port to Latin America, and an entertainment and industry titan. Of all cities in Texas, Houston remains the most well-known.
Houston History in Conclusion
As with many American cities, Houston history begins with a bloody battle for independence. The spirit of resolve would continue to define its relationship with industry as Houston fought and scraped its way to national recognition as a giant of merchandise and manufacturing.
Few centers of trade and industry rival Houston in the United States, therefore leading people to somewhat accurately mistake it for the capital of Texas. It remains its commercial and cultural capital despite not bearing the official title. Make no mistake: it was not by any accident that its history led us to the moon.