The Houston metro area is not only one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, but it also houses the most ethnically diverse population in the U.S. With its family-friendly attractions, lively arts scene, vibrant culture, and thriving job market, it’s no wonder many people are flocking to Bayou City. Houston is also known for its work in the space exploration sector. Before the city became what it is today, it experienced a number of fascinating historical milestones that contributed to establishing the Houston, Texas we all know and love.
When Was Houston Founded?
Battle of Jacinto in 1836
Harrisburg became the first settlement in Houston in 1826. Ten years later, in April of 1836, it was destroyed by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, a Mexican general who sought to overthrow General Sam Houston and the Texas army – who fought for independence from Mexico. The infamous battle took place along the bank of the San Jacinto River, which would later become the site for the city of Houston as we know it today.
The Aftermath of the Battle of Jacinto
A week later, Santa Anna was captured at the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas was finally freed. In August of 1836, two brothers and land speculators from New York, Augustus C., and John K. Allen, purchased the battle-worn town of Harrisburg. Soon after, they started an advertising campaign that showcased Harrisburg as the future “great interior commercial emporium” of Texas.
A mere two months later, John Allen appealed to the First Congress of the Republic of Texas, persuading them to move to his town – which was named after the first President of Texas, Sam Houston. While his efforts were applaud-worthy, his plea was denounced in 1839, only two years after the government relocated to the area.
Who Is Sam Houston?
Born in 1793 in Virginia, Sam Houston was a congressman, lawyer, and senator in Tennessee. He elected to move to Texas in 1832 to join the escalating conflict between the Mexican government and the U.S. settlers in the region. After becoming commander of the local army, Houston successfully led his men in the defeat of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna during the battle at San Jacinto, effectively securing independence for Texans.
In 1836, and again in 1841, Sam Houston was elected to non-consecutive presidential terms. After Texas became a state in 1845, he served as a senator. Despite his pro-slavery stand, he firmly believed in the preservation of the Union. In 1859, he was elected governor. He fought to diffuse sectional tensions (and advance his career) through the institution of a protectorate over Mexico. His efforts were unsuccessful, as was his bid to secure the presidential nomination for the Constitutional Union’s party.
In January of 1861, despite Houston’s resistance, a state secession convention met and voted in support of Texas leaving the union. After the secession of Texas, he was removed from office for good and later retired.
What Are Some Historical Facts About Houston, Texas?
Houston Was Once the Capital of Texas
For a short period – from 1837 to 1839, Houston became the official capital of Texas. After Sam Houston’s first presidency, however, the capital was moved to Austin by Mirabeau B. Lamar.
The Chamber of Commerce in 1840
On April 4, 1840, seven businessmen from Houston came together to form the Chamber of Commerce. Houston established itself as a center of trade; most notably exporting cotton at the nearby port of Galveston. After Galveston’s port facilities were destroyed by hurricane floodwaters in 1900, Houston became the state’s leading port.
In 1840, the first dock was built on The Buffalo Bayou, which is now part of the Houston ship channel. By the early 1980s, the port (the third largest in tonnage moved in the U.S. at the time), handled over 80 million tons of coastal, foreign, and canal shipping on an annual basis. When oil was uncovered in the region in 1901, the city saw sizable industrial development – ultimately stimulating prosperity and expanding the city’s economic base, which was limited to lumber and cotton in the 19th century. Construction to build The Houston Ship Channel wrapped up in 1914, triggering the establishment of numerous refineries alongside the port in the ’20s and ’30s.
Home of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
In 1961, Houston established the Manned Spacecraft Center, which was renamed to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973 in honor of the late President. The center has been leading space flight operations for NASA for four decades and is credited for developing, designing, and operating human space flight.
Why Live in Houston?
Great cuisine, thriving city, gorgeous weather – what more can you ask for? Houston, Texas has over 2 million residents, making it the fourth-largest city in the U.S. What’s more, over 145 different languages are spoken in Houston’s incredibly cultural and diverse metro area.
The city’s economy has continued to flourish thanks to the diversification of businesses that have laid down roots in the urban landscape. While Houston will always remain a hub for oil and energy, there has been tremendous job growth in a number of sectors, like biotechnology, healthcare, aerospace, and information technology.
Houston’s high-quality healthcare can’t be discounted either. Texas Medical Center is internationally-renowned and encompasses the largest medical center in the world – with two medical schools, 13 hospitals, and four nursing programs.
Nothing Beats the Bayou City
With its ethnically diverse population, rich culture, and abundance of economic opportunities, Houston is a highly sought-after place to lay down roots. Not only does the metro area come with some fascinating history, but it provides residents with outdoor activities, great educational systems, and a flourishing economy.