Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen, real estate entrepreneurs from New York, purchased a piece of land along the Buffalo Bayou in 1836. The land was 6,642 acres and they meant to found a city on it. The name Houston came from the name of a famous general during the Battle of San Jacinto, Sam Houston.
The general was also elected as the President of Texas in the same year the brothers purchased the land. It was soon infested with slave dealers, increasing its population due to migrants and purchased African American slaves.
Incorporation of Houston
James S. Holma became the first ever mayor of Houston after it was granted incorporation on the 5th of June, 1837. The city became Harrisburg County’s county seat and was also recognized as the capital of the Republic of Texas temporarily.
Post Civil War
The city of Houston became a commercial and railroad hub by 1860 for the cotton export industry. After the Civil War, businessmen in the city made sure that the city’s extensive bayou system would be wide enough to accept more business transactions between the nearby Galveston port and downtown. Because of this, Houston became the railroad center in the state of Texas in 1890. It became a deep-water port was suddenly accelerated when the port of Galveston was damaged by a hurricane. The next year, 1901, the discovery of oil prompted the birth of the Texas petroleum industry. This boosted the population to almost double of what it was a decade before. By 1940, it was composed of 77.5% white and 22.4% African American people.
World War II and Beyond
World War II cased tonnage levels to decrease. Aside from that, shipping activities at the port were also put on hold. However, the city benefited economically when more petrochemical refineries and manufacturing plants were built along the ship channel to cater to demands. The Texas Medical Center was built and formed in 1945. Air conditioning became available in 1950 causing an uprise of companies relocating to Houston. This improved the economy of the city, especially in the energy sector. The shipbuilding industry also boomed as NASA’s Johnson Space Center, formerly called Manned Spacecraft Center, was established in 1961.