Houston Turns 175

With the Texas War of Independence in full swing, brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen struggled with their new business. As real estate entrepreneurs, they bought land hoping it would increase in value when sold later on, so with an inheritance received by Augustus’ wife, Charlotte Allen, their business got the boost it needed. On Aug. 30, 1836 the bothers purchased 6,642 square miles of land with the intention of establishing a city, and at the suggestion of Charlotte Allen, they named the city for the hero at the time, Gen. Sam Houston.

In August, Houston celebrated its 175th anniversary. In 1901, the same year oil was discovered at the Spindletop field near Beaumont, the city’s population doubled from the previous decade, becoming the largest city in Texas. The 2010 U.S. census stated Houston had a population of 2.1 million people, making it the fourth most populous city in the country. Houston ranks as one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation. The city grew 25.2 percent in population between 1990 and 2000, adding more than 950,000 people, while the nation grew 13.2 percent over the same period.

The economy continues to grow along with the population. Twenty-three Fortune 500 companies call Houston home. Only New York City boasts more Fortune 500 companies. The city also has a broad industrial economy in aeronautics, energy and technology industries. Houston finds itself among world leaders in the chemical industry. The Port of Houston ranks as the sixth largest port in the world and in 2003 was named the first in the nation for total foreign shipments as well as second in total shipments. In fact, if Houston became an independent nation, its economy would rank worldwide at number 30.

Aside from the city’s size, Houston holds many attractions such as NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which houses mission control. The Theater District located Downtown falls second only to the New York Theater District. In addition, the Texas Medical Center possesses the title of the world’s largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest in the world, takes place each March. The museum district, one of the city’s largest attractions, draws seven million people each year.

The University of Houston recently became a Tier One research university, making it the third, along with the University of Texas and Texas A&M, in the state. The University of Houston holds the top spot in Texas for its graduate creative writing program. Actor James Franco currently attends classes at the university for this program. According to the Princeton Review, Rice University, located in downtown Houston, has the happiest students in the nation. Also, the buckyball, the third form of carbon, was discovered at Rice University in 1985.

Houstonians have four major league teams and one minor league. The city’s current football team, the Houston Texans, played their first game in August 2002 at Reliant Stadium after the Houston Oilers’, now the Tennessee Titians, departure to Nashville, Tennessee in 1999. The Houston Dynamos, the city’s soccer team, were  the MLS champions in 2006 and 2007. The Houston Rockets basketball team accumulated two NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. The Astros competed against the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 major League Baseball World Series, and play at Minute Maid Park in Downtown. The Aeros hockey team, part of the American Hockey League share their arena with the Rockets.Aside from the city’s sports, Houston also hosts an array of other sporting events. Reliant Stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 and the Final Four in 2011.

The 175 years of Houston history shaped it into a diverse city. Houston’s economy, population and attractions make it unique.