The story of Houston began in 1836 when two brothers, Augustus Allen and John Allen, placed an ad in the Telegraph and Texas Register for the “Town of Houston” and declared that the town was destined to become the “great interior commercial emporium of Texas.”
Houston was named after Sam Houston, a politician and military leader who led the Texas Revolution in 1835. His army defeated Santa Anna in the battle of San Jacinto which ultimately led to Texas becoming its own Republic from 1836 until it joined the US in 1845. Sam Houston served two terms as the President of the Texas Republic and later the governor of the state.
With a cool sea breeze flowing through the city, and relatively cheap prices for land parcels, there were plenty of reasons to buy land in this area, despite its humidity and heat in the summer.
The Allen brothers were able to convince Congress to declare the town as the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas by offering land to the government and great prices.
At first, the town of Houston consisted only of 12 residents and a log cabin but just four months later the town was filled with over 1,500 residents and nearly 100 homes. Houston was finally incorporated on June 5, 1837, and the population has been steadily increasing ever since.
Because of the rising population, the state’s trade and transportation required a serious overhaul. There was no infrastructure to support the needs of transport, and goods were transported by wagon. But the cost was great – to carry three bales of cotton cost twenty cents per ton-mile but since the roads were so bad, the wagons could only travel for a few miles per day; waterways were used to transport goods instead.
Houston became the largest city in Texas
By 1930, the Houston population had grown to 292,000 and there were three newspapers in town. The Houston Post (founded in 1880), the Houston Chronicle (founded in 1901), and the Houston Press (founded in 1911). There were also four radio stations. But things weren’t so great for the residents when it came to traveling the city streets. In fact, residents and merchants were constantly at odds with the city’s dusty, muddy terrain.
After testing out various materials to pave the streets and make them easier to traverse, city officials finally turned to paving them using asphalt and cement. By 1915, nearly 200 miles of Houston streets had been paved and in 1922, the government finally began replacing wooden bridges with bridges made out of more stable material like steel and concrete.
Early transportation in Houston
In 1891, an electric streetcar was built, making it easier for residents to travel within the city limits. Cars were introduced to the area at the turn of the century and became a hot item to own. The proliferation of automobiles eventually led to the need for traffic regulation including creating speed limits, which just happened to be a slow 15 miles per hour as of 1907. Traffic signals weren’t installed until 14 years later in 1921.
As of 2015, Houston covered 627 square miles and was ranked the fourth largest city in the US. With a skyrocketing population of 2,296,224, Houston is quickly catching up to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The Greater Houston area includes the cities of Galveston, Harris, Brazoria, Waller, Fort Bend, Chambers, Austin, and Liberty counties for a population total of 6,656,947. This is an astronomical increase in population from when the greater area was first formed in 1949, and held a population of just 806,701 people.
Demographics of Houston
Houston is home to over 100 ethnic groups, as many people from around the world have moved to this fine city with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Real estate market in Houston, Texas
The median house value as of 2015 in Houston was $152,200, which is up from $77,500 in 2000. The median gross rent in 2015 was $923.
The former chief economist for Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center, Mark Dotzour, says that Houston’s housing market is extremely resilient and despite energy companies declaring bankruptcy, the market is projected to thrive. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that unlike many other areas, Houston’s housing market is not overbuilt.
Great schools in Houston
Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas with 287 schools with students who speak over 100 different languages and includes:
- 10 early childhood schools
- 159 elementary schools
- 37 middle schools
- 38 high schools
- 43 alternative schools
- 215,000 students
As the 2013 Broad Prize winner, HISD has been recognized as having made the most substantial gains in student achievement. The HISD has also been awarded the “Race to the Top” grant, a $30 million Federal grant provided to 21 districts across the nation. This grant is being used to implement a new approach to teaching that exposes students to real world experience in various professions that makes the connection for them between what they learn in the classroom, and what they can expect from that profession once they graduate.
Popular attractions in Houston
- The Houston Zoo. Fun for all ages, the Houston Zoo gives you the opportunity to observe wildlife you won’t find in your backyard. They’ve even got a live webcam that allows you to watch the animals. You can watch gorillas, leafcutter ants, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, zebras, and more.
- The Houston Space Center. Offering summer day camps and exhibits that are out of this world, the Space Center is truly the place to take your kids.
- The Houston Museum of Natural Science. You can experience a butterfly garden, a planetarium, a giant screen theatre, and all kinds of exhibits, activities, and lectures at this museum.
- The Museum of Fine Arts. If fine art is what you’re looking for, this is a great attraction for the Houston area. With sculptures, presentations, and dazzling pieces of art, there’s no shortage of creativity here.
- Houston’s Underground Tunnel Tour. Many people don’t know there are tunnels under the city of Houston, and you can tour these tunnels.
- Free activities. There are plenty of free activities you can do in Houston, including biking along the Buffalo Bayou, checking out a bat colony at the Waugh Drive Bridge, check out the Houston Zoo for free every first Tuesday from 2pm to close, and catch movie screenings at Market Square Park.
Looking to buy property in Houston?
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