Great eloquent words can describe Houston. It is a multicultural city with a lot of soul and a lot of individuals who possess compassion and human generosity. It, being the largest Southern city in America, is note worthy. Also, it is noteworthy to note that the people of Houston make up a great part of American culture and American strength. Houston has over 2.2 million people and it has almost 600 square miles. Health care, aeronautics, engineering, computer sciences, transportation, energy, manufacturing, and other industries are found in Houston. The city of Houston is involved in international trade as it is a global city. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Museum District.
Houston has a long history. In the beginning, Houston was filled originally with Native Americans. The Paleo Indians lived in Texas between 9,200 B.C. and 6,000 B.C. these nomadic people hunted mammoths and bison latifrons using atlatls. What is an Atlatl? Atlatls are ancient weapons that preceded the bow and arrow in most parts of the world and are one of humankind's first mechanical inventions. The word atlatl (pronounced at-latal or atal-atal) comes from the Nahuatl language of the Aztec, who were still using them when encountered by the Spanish in the 1500s. The Paleo Indians may have links to the Clovis and Folsom cultures. By the 4th century millennium B.C., the population of Texas increased. The climate changed and the giant mammals became extinct. Native Americans who lived in Texas for thousands of years were the Pueblo, the Mound Builders of the Mississippi Culture, and there were influences of the Mesoamerica cultures, which was centered in the south of Texas. By 500 B.C., Native Americans in East Texas were in villages. They were farming and building the first burial mounds. They influenced the Mississippian culture. Different Native American peoples lived in Texas like the Alabama, Apache, the Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Cherokee, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita. The name Texas comes from the word “taysha.” That word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai means “friends" or "allies.” The first European to see Texas was Alonso Alvarez de Pineda. He led an expedition for the governor of Jamaica Francisco de Garay in 1520. While searching for a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and Asia, Álvarez de Pineda created the first map of the northern Gulf Coast. This map is the earliest recorded document of Texas history. Later, French colonists traveled into Texas back during the late 1600’s. La Salle led an expedition to Louisiana back in 1684. French colonization was mostly gone in Texas by 1690. The Spanish controlled Texas from 1690 to 1821. On January 23, 1691, Spain appointed the first governor of Texas, General Domingo Terán de los Ríos. Many of these Spanish colonists wanted control, conversion of the Native Americans to Catholicism, and an expansion of the Spanish Empire. Spain and France would fight for control of North America. Also, Texas is a known place where Native Americans resisted both French and Spanish occupation. The Spanish couldn’t convert the Hasinai tribe of East Texas, but they were friendly with each other. The Hasinai were enemies of the Lipan Apache. The Apache attacked the Spanish in San Antonio and in other places of Texas.
A temporary peace was finally negotiated with the Apache in 1749, and at the request of the Native Americans a mission was established along the San Saba River northwest of San Antonio. Later, Louisiana was given to France by 1799. Although the agreement was signed on October 1, 1800, it did not go into effect until 1802. The following year, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. The original agreement between Spain and France had not explicitly specified the borders of Louisiana, and the descriptions in the documents were ambiguous and contradictory. The U.S. wanted most of West Florida and all of Texas. Soon, the drive for Mexican independence developed. Revolutionaries in Mexico wanted independence and Spain wouldn’t give up Texas without a fight. Some of the leaders of the Mexican independence movement were Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos.
Spanish troops reacted harshly, looting the province and executing any Tejanos accused of having Republican tendencies. By 1820 fewer than 2,000 Hispanic citizens remained in Texas. The situation did not normalize until 1821, when Agustin de Iturbide launched a drive for Mexican Independence. Texas became a part of the newly independent nation without a shot being fired, ending the period of Spanish Texas. The Mexican nation wanted more settlers to come into Texas to prevent Comanche raids. So, Mexican Texas liberalized its immigration policies and allowed more immigrants from outside Mexico and Spain to come into Mexican Texas. Settlers would be granted large pieces of land to empresarios. The first grant was to Moses Austin and he passed it to his son Stephen F. Austin after his death. Texas grew quickly as more settlers came into the land.
The population of Texas grew rapidly. In 1825, Texas had about 3,500 people, with most of Mexican descent. By 1834, the population had grown to about 37,800 people, with only 7,800 of Mexican descent. Mexican law banned slavery, which was good. The bad news is that the Anglo settlers used slavery in Texas territory, which was illegal. America wanted to purchase Texas. Mexican authorities decided in 1830 to prohibit continued immigration from the United States. New laws also called for the enforcement of customs duties angering both native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and recent immigrants. The Anahuac Disturbances in 1832 was a revolt against Mexican rule. Then, the revolt happened against the nation’s first President. Texians sided with the federalists against the current government and drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas. They took advantage of the lack of oversight to agitate for more political freedom. Texians met at the Convention of 1832 to discuss requesting independent statehood, among other issues. The following year, Texians reiterated their demands at the Convention of 1833. The Federalists and the centralists wanted power and they debated. The Battle of Gonzales started the Texas Revolution. The Texians won and defeated Mexican troops. The government collapsed originally in 1836. Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt. The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General José de Urrea defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast culminating in the Goliad massacre. Santa Anna's forces, after a thirteen-day siege, overwhelmed Texian defenders at the Battle of the Alamo. The Battle of the Alamo was when the Texians were defeated by the Mexican forces. News of the defeats sparked panic among Texas settlers. So, the Texas declared itself an independent republic in March 2, 1836.
The Texian Army, commanded by Sam Houston attacked and defeated Santa Anna’s forces in the Battle of San Jacinto. By December 29, 1845, Texas became an U.S. State. During the Texas Revolution, New York real estate promoters (John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen) wanted a location to be built a city of government and commerce. They purchased 6,642 acres (27 km²) of land (on a site adjacent to the ashes of Harrisburg) from T. F. L. Parrot, Austin’s widow for $9,428. In August of 1836, the Allen Brothers named the city after Sam Houston whom both brothers admired. The city of Houston was granted incorporation by the state legislature on June 5, 1837. The town had only about 1,500 people and 100 houses back then. Early Houston had issues of prostitution, profanity, dueling, brawling, etc. So, people in Houston wanted to fight against these things. The President of Texas was Sam Houston. He moved the capital to Houston on June 27, 1842. Later, the capital of Texas would be in Austin by 1844. Germans came into Texas and Houston during the Revolutions of 1848 in German states. Mexican workers would build railroads. Houston shipped cotton, lumber, and other manufacturing products. Alexander McGowen established the iron industry, and Tom Whitmarsh built a cotton warehouse. A fire ravaged Houston on March 10, 1859, but the city rebuilt itself soon after the fire. Enslaved African Americans lived near Houston in the thousands before the civil war. Many of them worked in sugar and cotton plantation. Most were domestic and artisan workers in Houston. In 1860, forty-nine percent of the city's population was enslaved. Frost Town, a nearby settlement south of the Buffalo Bayou, was swallowed by Houston.
The Civil War
Houston has a long history with the Civil War. In 1860, most Houstonians supported John C. Breckenridge or the independent Democratic candidate for President. He lost the election to the Republican Abraham Lincoln. Texas was one of the first states to vote to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in 1861. General E. Tiggs or the commander of federal forces in Texas surrendered the federal arsenal in San Antonio to secessionist volunteers led by the famed Texas Ranger Ben McCulloch, along with additional army posts, etc. in Texas. Governor Sam Houston refused to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy. He was a slave owner and he opposed secession. He died in 1863 while living in Texas. In Houston, there were tensions between the Confederacy and the few Union sympathizers. The Chamber of Commerce kept the city together during the conflict. Galveston was blockaded on October 4, 1862, which in turn soured Houston's economy. On January 1, 1863, John B. Magruder's Confederate forces recaptured the city. However, the war was won by the Union forces in 1865.The Union and Confederate battles in the land and via the water have been fierce. The Confederates once regain control of Galveston after the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863. Federal union people attacked Laredo on March 19, 1864. The Confederates in Texas were some of the toughest forces to be defeated during the Civil War. There was fighting in Palmito Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas in May 13, 1865. Federal troops entered Texas to enforce Reconstruction efforts under the military of General Philip Sheridan later on. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger (commander of U.S. troops in Texas) arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued an order that the Emancipation Proclamation is in effect. This ended slavery in Texas. The event is later celebrated as Juneteenth, especially by black Americans. Texas was governed under a military command during Reconstruction, but Federal forces could not control the anarchy and lawlessness that broke out after the war. Civilians settled old grudges and several counties were essentially without civilian government. In 1869, the Ship Channel Company was formed to deepen Buffalo Bayou and improve Houston as a shipping port.
Reconstruction and the late 19th Century
Despite the postwar social unrest, migrants flocked to Texas for new opportunities. Texas businessmen joined together to expand the railroad network, which contributed to Houston's primacy in the state and the development of Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and El Paso. In May 1870, Houston was the site of the Texas State Fair. The fair remained in Houston until 1878. Texas was admitted to the Union on April 16, 1870. Houston grew as a city. It became a port of entry on July 16, 1870. Its new charter grew to eight wards. Many freed slaves opened businesses and worked under contracts in Houston. The Freedmen’s Bureau stopped the abuse of the contracts in 1870. Many African Americans during that time were in unskilled labor jobs. Many freed black people legalized their marriages after the Civil War. White legislators wanted segregated schools. After the white Democrats regained power in the state legislature in the late 1870’s, they started to pass laws to make voter registration more complicated. This caused the disfranchising of African Americans. The elections of 1876 were accompanied in many southern states with fraud and violence to suppress black voting. White Democrats secured their power and then they passed Jim Crow laws to establish and enforce legal segregation in Houston and throughout Texas. By 1874, Houston’s first permanent public transit system was operated by the Houston City Street Railway Company. From 1874 to 1891, all of the transit service was operated using mule-driven streetcars, when electric streetcars began to be implemented in their place. The conversion to electric streetcars was completed in 1892. Lumber became a large part of the port's exports, with merchandise as its chief import. The Houston Post was established in 1880. The Houston Chronicle followed on August 23 of that year. Former U. S. President Ulysses Grant came to Houston to celebrate the opening of the Union Station, which had rail links with New Orleans. Fifth Ward residents threatened to secede from Houston because they felt they already had been separated. An iron drawbridge built in 1883 pacified them, and they did not secede. In 1887, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word established a hospital that would become St. Joseph Hospital. In 1893, George H. Hermann donated a site for the purpose of a charitable hospital, which later became Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. In 1898, Houstonians appealed before Congress for permission to turn the Buffalo Bayou into a deep-water port, prompted in part by the Spanish–American War. The construction of the Port of Houston was approved by Congress in 1899.
The Early 20th century
In the beginning of the 20th century, Houston has gone throughout huge changes. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 tore apart of the city of Galveston, Texas on September 8-9. This caused many investors to invest in Houston instead of Galveston. Texas developed a huge oil and railroad industry after the oil discovery in Spindletop, in Beaumont, Texas in 1901. The oil trade transformed Houston. Houston was the railroad hub of east Texas and Houston would go from a smaller town into a large city. In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt approved a one million dollar fund for the Ship Channel. This was the year when Houston saw the arrival of the first Japanese in Texas. This came about after Sadastsuchi Uchida gave a fact finding tour of the Gulf Coast region. He helped to establish rice as a major crop of the Gulf Coast region. A grant from Andrew Carnegie came the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library (which would later be known as the Houston Public Library), which was founded in 1904. Houston had a larger population than Galveston by 1910. Many Mexicans came into Houston as a product of the Mexican Revolution after 1910. Since that time, Mexican human beings have had a huge influence in the city ever since. Rice University opened in the West University area in 1912. It was once called Rice Institute. 25 buildings from six to 16 stories high came about in Houston in the same year. Office buildings extant in 1912 include the eleven-story Scanlan Building, the marble-clad South Texas National Bank Building, the eight-story First National Bank Building, the twelve-story Union National Bank, the ten-story Houston Chronicle Building, and the Southwestern Telephone Company Building. The sixteen-story Carter Building was the tallest in Houston in 1912. Oil companies grew in power in Houston. 12 oil companies were located in Houston in 1913. Also, one company was Humble Oil Company, which is now ExxonMobil. That oil company was started by Howard Hughes (who was born in Humble, Texas). Howard Hughes was a notorious despicable male who was a racist and an anti-Semite. President Woodrow Wilson opened the Port of Houston in 1914, 74 years after the digging started. Service started with the Satilla, a ship that ran from Houston to New York, New York. World War I put the gasoline-combustible automobile into widespread use, causing oil to become a precious commodity. After WWI the rice businesses fell down. So, many Japanese Americans find other work or moved out of Texas.
Many African American soldiers were in the all black 24 Infantry Regiment to guard the construction site at Camp Logan. Racial tensions were increasing as black soldiers received bad treatment in the racially segregated city of Houston. There was a full blown riot in August 1917 called the Camp Logan Riot. Many black people and white people died in the riot. This rebellion happened because 2 Houston cops stormed into a home of a black woman. They were looking for someone in the neighborhood. Later, the cops fired a warning shot outside. They physically assaulted the Sister and dragged with without some of her clothes out in the street. They did this evil action in front of her 5 small black children. The woman was screaming and she said why she was being arrested. A soldier from the 24th Infantry, Alonso Edwards stepped forward to ask what was going on. The police officers promptly beat him to the ground and arrested him as well. Later that afternoon, Corporal Charles Baltimore went to the Houston police station to investigate the arrest, as well as the beating of another black soldier, and also to attempt to gain the release of the soldier. An argument began which led to violence, and Corporal Baltimore was beaten up, shot at, and arrested by the police before being sent back to camp. The policeman hit Baltimore over the head. The MPs fled. The police fired at Baltimore three times, chased him into an unoccupied house, and took him to police headquarters. Though he was soon released, a rumor quickly reached Camp Logan that he had been shot and killed. A group of soldiers decided to march on the police station in the Fourth Ward and secure his release. The infantry became angry, and decided to strike on the evening of August 23. The black infantry people have every God given right to march when crooked cops assaulted a black women and black soldiers. So, I have no problem with the soldiers marching against injustice. The soldiers marched in the city of Houston. The police and armed citizens confronted them. A riot came about. 20 people died including 4 soldiers, 4 cops, and 12 civilians. The soldiers were disarmed. Martial law was declared in Houston. The soldiers were sent to Columbus, New Mexico. Some were convicted. Many soldiers were hanged via the death penalty. The NAACP criticized the executions. Acting Judge Advocate Gen., Brig. Gen. Samuel T. Ansell, was particularly angered and said: “The men were executed immediately upon the termination of the trial and before their records could be forwarded to Washington or examined by anybody, and without, so far as I can see, any one of them having time or opportunity to seek clemency from the source of clemency, if he had been so advised.”
WWII and the Early Cold War
During the World War II era, Houston expanded its resources. Houston had about 400,000 people by 1940. The population depended on shipping and oil. World War II had many effects on the city. It expanded dramatically the city’s economic base, because of massive federal spending. There were many entrepreneurs (like George Brown, James Elkins, and James Abercrombie) who landed hundreds of millions of dollars in federal wartime investment in technologically complex facilities. Houston oil companies moved from being mere refineries and became sophisticated producers of petrochemicals. There were synthetic rubber and high octane fuel, which retained their importance after the war. The war moved the natural gas industry from a minor factor to a major energy source. Houston became a major hub when a local firm purchased the federally financed inch pipelines. Other major growth industries included steel, munitions, and shipbuilding. Tens of thousands of new migrants streamed in from rural areas, straining the city's housing supply and the city's ability to provide local transit and schools. During this time, high paying jobs came to a large number of women, black people, and Mexican Americans for the first time. The African American community became emboldened by their new era of economic growth. So, black people grew civil rights activism. The Smith v. Allwight Supreme Court decision on voting rights was backed and funded by local black people in Houston during this time period. Tonnage fell at the port and five shipping lines ended service when World War II began. By April of 1940, streetcar service was replaced by buses. Robertson Stadium or Houston Public School Stadium was erected from March 1941 to September 1942. Pam Am started air service in 1942too. Ellington Field was reopened during WWII. The Cruiser Houston was named after the city. It sank after a vicious battle in Java, Indonesia in 1942. August 1942 also saw the new City Manager Government enacted.
The M. D. Anderson Foundation formed the Texas Medical Center in 1945. That same year, the University of Houston separated from HISD and became a private university. The war expanded aircraft and shipbuilding industries in Texas. Tonnage rose after the end of the war in 1946. In 1946, E. W. Bertner gave away 161 acres of land for the Texas Medical Center. Suburban Houston came into being from 1946 to 1950. Oscar D. Holcombe abandoned a city manager type of government when he took his eighth term in 1946. By the late 1940’s Houston’s banking industry grew into prominence. Many more developments came like: Foley's department store opened in 1947. The Alley Theatre got its first performance in 1947. Also the same year, voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum for citywide land-use districts--zoning. Houston formed a large annexation campaign to increase its size. When air conditioning came to the city, it was called the "World's Most Air Conditioned City". By the end of the 1940’s, Houston became a strong, port driven economy. By the 1950’s, Texas Medical Center became operational. More wealth came into the region. The Galveston Freeway and the International Terminal at Houston International Airport (nowadays Hobby Airport) were signs of increasing wealth in the area. Millions of dollars were spent to replace aging infrastructure. In 1951, the Texas Children’s Hospital and the Shriner’s Hospital were built. Hospitals had expansions being completed. The first network television of Houston came in July 1, 1952. In those years, the University of Houston celebrated its 25th anniversary. Houston needed more water supplies. They usually relied on ground water, but that caused land subsidence. So, they had had proposals in the Texas Congress to use the Trinity River. Hattie Mae White was elected to the school board in 1959. She was the first African-American to be elected in a major position in Houston in the 20th Century. Starting in 1950, Japanese-Americans as a whole were leaving horticulture and going into business in larger cities, such as Houston.
Civil Rights and Social Change
Houston has a strong civil rights history too. A lot of the mainstream media didn’t cover it (they have covered Selma, Little Rock, Bogalusa, Prince Edward County, the University of Mississippi campus, etc.), but many people fought for civil rights in the city of Houston. Mexican Americans in the Gulf Coast area near Houston and in El Paso organized the Confederación de Organizaciones Mexicanas y Latino Americanas in the late 1930s, also for the purpose of eradicating racist policies. The black movement, for its part, won some white support in the 1930;s from the ranks of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and from such prominent congressmen as Maury Maverick. There was a fight for the desegregation of public facilities in Houston. There were many civil rights activists who wanted to use civil demonstrations to promote change. Segregation in Houston back then was embedded in the system. There were racial tensions in the 1960’s. Many Houstonians feared that any activism would cause more racial strife because of the Camp Logan riot of 1917. Many black people in Houston were assaulted and discriminated against by white racists. Many of the older black, affluent Houston population weren’t so apt to have public demonstrations at first. Eldrewey Stearns was a black Texas Southern University or TSU law students. He said that he was beaten by officers after he was arrested. He talked about his experience in August of 1959. A young then Houston journalist Dan Rather reported on the story. This caused more people to see racial issues in the city when Houston at that time has the largest amount of African Americans in a Southern city. The NAACP was involved in a victory of Smith v. Allwright case (which the Supreme Court banned all white democratic primary in Texas). The NAACP won another victory by allowing the Supreme Court to ban segregation at the University of Texas Law School in 1946 (in the Sweatt v. Painter case). Change would be slow in Houston.
So, young TSU students organized the firs sit in demonstration in Houston in March 4, 1960 at Weingarten’s Store or a local supermarket. Stearns was involved in this effort. No violence happened in the demonstration. TSU student Curtis Graves was involved in the action of the sit in in Mading’s Drug Store. Ironically, conservative black people and political figures wanted the sit ins to quietly end. Mayor Cutrer later threatened the protesters with arrest if they continued the sit ins. Many whites served black people during the protests since they wanted no violence. In March 25, 1960, people served the mass of student activists in City Hall cafeteria. Desegregation in Houston would be a slow process. The powers that be in Houston didn’t want massive violence, so they wanted to advance the image of Houston of being a money city and being more progressive (not to promote real equality). In conjunction with the National March on Washington in 1963, approximately 900 protesters marched on the state Capitol. The group, which included Hispanics, blacks, and whites, attacked the slow pace of desegregation in the state and Governor John Connally's opposition to the pending civil-rights bill in Washington. In the March on Washington, 23 black people from Houston, Texas came to D.C. By the latter half of the sixties, some segments of the black community flocked to the cause of Black Power. The Twenty-fourth Amendment, ratified in 1964, barred the poll tax in federal elections, and that same year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act outlawing the Jim Crow tradition. Texas followed suit in 1969 by repealing its own separatist statutes. The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated local restrictions to voting and required that federal marshals monitor election proceedings. Ten years later, another voting-rights act demanded modification or elimination of at-large elections. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, founded in 1968, emerged as a powerful civil rights organization. It focused on the state's inequitable system of financing schools, redistricting, and related problems. The list of Texas civil rights leaders is long: Maceo Smith, Carter Wesley, William Durham, Lulu White and many others.
The city of Houston from the 1970’s to the present has been through a lot of changes. The civil rights movement changed Houston forever. The heroic Senator from Houston named Barbara Jordan fought against Nixon's corruption during the Watergate scandal and she promoted human rights throughout her life. There was a rapid increase of the Chinese American community’s population in Houston by the 1970’s. There was the Sharpstown scandal. This scandal involved government bribes involving real estate developer Frank Sharp (the neighborhood of Sharpstown was named after him). This scandal happened in 1970 and 1971. The locations of One Shell Plaza and Two Shell Plaza were completed in 1971. One Shell Plaza was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Water pollution was terrible in the Houston Ship Channel in 1972. The Houston Independent School District was slow to desegregate public schools. So, on June 1, 1970, the federal officials struck the HISD plan down and forced it to adopt zoning laws. This was 16 years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (which determined that segregated schools are inherently unequal). There were racial tensions over the integration of schools. Some Hispanic Americans felt they were being discriminated against when they were being put with only African-Americans as part of the desegregation plan, so many took their children out of the schools and put them inhuelgas, or protest schools, until a ruling in 1973 satisfied their demands. In 1976, Howard Hughes, at one time the world's richest man, died on his jet heading to Houston. He was born in Humble, Texas, and the home of what is now ExxonMobil. The Third Ward became the center of the African American community in the city too. By 1979, African Americans were elected to the City Council for the first time since Reconstruction. During that era of time, five African Americans served on the city council. More buildings grew in Houston like the Texas Commerce Tower, which is now the JPMorgan Chase Toward. The construction of the building began in 1979. Houston’s educational system changed too. The Houston Community College system was created in 1972 by the HISD.
In 1977, the University of Houston celebrated its 50th anniversary as the Texas Legislature established the University of Houston System. This system of higher education included and governs four universities. During the 1980’s, more changes came about in Houston. In 1981, Kathryn J. Whitmire became Houston’s first female mayor. She was mayor for 10 years. After she left office, term limits were created, so future mayors should not serve for more than 6 year. During the 1980’s, massive construction projects existed in the city. Downtown had the development of the Park Shopping Mall, the Allied Bank Tower, the Gulf Tower, and other buildings. The Transco Tower, the tallest building in the world outside of a central business district, was completed in 1983. METRO wanted to build a rail system connecting the city with the suburbs, but the plan was rejected by voters on June 11, 1983. Voters did, however, approve plans for the George R. Brown Convention Center. In August 1983, the Houston changed its name to "University of Houston–University Park" in order to separate its identity from other universities in the University of Houston System; however, the name was reverted to University of Houston in 1991 Hurricane Alicia struck Galveston and Houston in August 18, 1983. The Hurricane caused $2 billion in damage. When oil prices fell in 1986, Houston’s massive population boom was reversed. The oil prices falling caused many years of recession for the Houston economy. The space industry was saddened by the explosion of the Challenger in Florida. In the first nine months of 1987, there was the closure of 11 banks. There was also the opening of many cultural centers like the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Wortham Theatre, and the Menil Collection. On August 7, 1988, Congressman Mickey Leland died in a plane crash in Ethiopia. On October 3, a Phillips 66 plant exploded in adjacent Pasadena, Texas, killing 23 and injuring 130. The Houston Zoo began charging admission fees for the first time in 1988. The city of Houston developed in the 1990’s as well. There was the opening of the Houston Intercontinental Airport’s new 12 gate Mickey Leland International Airlines terminal. The terminal was named after the recently deceased Houston congressman. In 1991 Sakowitz stores shut down; the Sakowitz brothers had brought their original store from Galveston to Houston in 1911. August 10, 1991 saw a redrawing of districts for city council, so that minority groups could be better represented in the city council.
The 21st Century in Houston
1993 saw the G8 visiting to discuss world issues, and zoning was defeated for a third time by voters in November. Many residents of the community of Kingwood were angry at how they were forcibly annexed in 1996. Paige became superintendent of Houston Independent School District in 1994; during his seven-year tenure the district became very well known for high test scores, and in 2001 Paige was asked to become Secretary of Education for the new George W. Bush administration. Lee P. Brown, Houston's first African-American mayor, was elected in 1997. During the 21st century, more changes happened in Houston. The Houston Oilers left the city. The city built Enron Field, now Minute Maid Park for the Houston Astros. Reliant Stadium, now NRG Stadium, was erected for the NFL expansion team Houston Texans. There was the Tropical Storm Allison that devastated many neighborhoods. It interrupted all services within the Texas medical center for several months with the flooding in June of 2001. At least 17 people were killed around the Houston area when rainfall from Allison fell on June 8th and 9th. The city’s bayous began to rise over their banks. In October of 2001, Enron (or a Houston based energy company) experienced a scandal. This led to the collapse of the company and its accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Many executives were arrested and imprisoned. The University of Houston celebrated its 75th anniversary with an enrollment of 34,443 that fall semester. At the same time, the University of Houston System celebrated its 25th anniversary with a total enrollment of over 54,000. The new international Terminal E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport opened with 30 gates in 2003. The Toyota Center, the arena for the Houston Rockets opened in fall 2003. METRO put in light rail service on January 1, 2004. Voters have decided by a close margin (52% Yes to 48% No) that METRO's light rail shall be expanded.
In 2004, Houston unveiled the first Mahatma Gandhi statue in the state of Texas at Hermann Park. Houston's Indian American Community were cheerful after 10 years, in 2010, when the Hillcroft and Harwin area were renamed Mahatma Gandhi District in honor of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as that area is the center of Indian commerce. Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005. After that disaster, about 200,000 New Orleans residents went into Houston. This caused a strong adjustment. After Katrina, Hurricane Rita, which was a category 5 hurricane, caused about 2.5 million Houstonians to evacuate the city, the largest urban evacuation in the history of the U.S. There is the New Great Migration of African Americans traveling from the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast into the South. Many black people have recently moved into Houston for lower cost of living and job opportunities. Six Flags Astroworld closed in 2005. It was Houston’s only large theme park.
Today, the mayor of Houston is Annise Parker since January of 2010. Memorial Day storms in 2015 brought flash flooding to the city as some areas received 11 inches or more of rain overnight exacerbated by already full bayous. At least three people died and more than 1,000 cars were stranded on highways and overpasses. Today, it is 2015, and Houston is a very beautiful city with great people.
The Culture of Houston
Houston and culture go hand in hand. The black culture in Houston is strong. Many black people live in Houston and are working and living their lives as any other human being. There are almost 500,000 black people living in Houston, Texas. Houston has a huge number of African Americans. By 2010, African Americans have greater federal representation. One black man served as Mayor Houston one time. His name was Lee P. Brown and he was elected in 1997. As of 2005, Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houstonian, is one of two black Texan U.S. House of Representatives members. From the 1870s to the 1890s, black people were almost 40% of Houston's population. Today, most black people live in areas where they were raised. Traditional African American neighborhoods are the MacGregor area, Settegast, Sunnyside, and the Third Ward. Today, more black people are living in Southwest Houston areas like Alief, Fondren Southwest, Sharpstown, and Westwood by 2005. We have the New Great Migration of black people. This is about the time of 1965 to the present. Deindustrialization of Northern and Midwestern cities have caused more black people to go back into the South, with lower costs of living, family, kinship ties. So, many black people from New York, New Jersey, etc. are traveling into Houston because of the New Great Migration. Much of the states where black people are going into include Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Maryland, etc. I have seen many black people from New York and New Jersey living in my region of Hampton Roads, Virginia myself. There is the Ensemble Theater, which is an African American theater company. It has its studio in Midtown. The theater was founded in 1976 by George Hawkins. It is the largest African American theater company in America Juneteenth is the annual celebration recognizing the emancipation of black slaves in Texas. There are many events throughout Houston commemorating this occasion. Historically Black colleges in Houston include Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M University. Cultural networking organizing connects African Americans in Houston, eastern Texas, and Louisiana. Studies and scholars document that Houston is one of the greatest cities for African Americans to live, ti work, and to start a business at. There is a strong Black media network of radio stations and newspapers that keep the black community in Houston informed. There are African immigrants, Nigerians, and Ethiopians who live in Houston as well. There is the Black Expo, the Houston International Jazz Festival, and other cultural institutions in Houston. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is very historic in showing information about African American soldiers. It was created by Vietnam War veteran and African American military historian Mr. Paul J. Matthews. The Houston Museum of African American Culture shows great art, exhibits, and films for all people. It is found in 4807 Caroline Street. It proposes is to teach and inspire people about history and culture of black Americans including all people of black African descent. They have preserved a lot of historical culture from African Americans, Africans, and people of the African Diaspora. Years ago, Sister Saro Wiva did an exhibit about romantic love in Africa and black self-love. Therefore, it is very important to know about black history.
There is a huge amount of Hispanic culture in Houston. More immigrants from Latin American countries are coming into Houston. Houston has the third largest Hispanic population in America. 44 percent of Houston is Hispanic. Hispanic people make up about 18 percent of the Houston city council. Most Hispanic people in Houston are Catholics while there are some Hispanics in Houston who became converts to Islam. There has been an increase of Hispanic Americans living in Kashmere Gardens, South Park, Sunnyside, and the Third Ward. There are Mexicans, Cubans, Central Americans, and other Hispanics living in Houston. The Institute of Hispanic Culture is found in Houston at 3315 Sul Ross. It serves the Houston community education of Hispanic culture and other services. They work with local universities and other cultural organizations. Since 1965, this institute The Talento Bilingüe de Houston (TBH, "Bilingual Theater of Houston") is a bilingual theater in the Second Ward of the East End area of Houston, Texas. It is found in the intersection of Jensen Road and Navigation Drive, adjacent to Guadalupe Park, and the two city blocks from Downtown Houston. La Voz de Houston is a Spanish language weekly newspaper which was distributed by the Houston Chronicle and a subsidiary of the Houston Chronicle. Armando and Olga Ordóñez, refugees from Cuba, established La Voz de Houston in 1979. On Thursday December 2, 2004 the Houston Chronicle purchased La Voz. Ordóñez remained as the publisher of La Voz. As an employee of the Houston Chronicle she began reporting to Jack Sweeney, the publisher of the Houston Chronicle. The 14 employees of La Voz de Houston became Houston Chronicle employees. The offices of La Voz de Houston moved to their current location. The Chronicle gives advertising sales and editorial support from the Chronicle. It talks about issues important to Hispanic human beings. It shows news, foods, sports, entertainment, and other issues. As of 2004, the weekly newspaper has a circulation of 100,000. In 2010 Héctor Pina of La Voz won the first place award for opinion writing in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors 2010 competition for the best journalism work. El Día was a Spanish-language newspaper published in Houston, Texas by El Día, Inc. The company's offices are in Greater Sharpstown. Luis Jimenez was the late Tejano sculptor. He created the Vaquero art installation at Moody Park through the help of the City of Houston and the National Endowment of the Arts. It was commissioned via the Art in Public Places program. The University of Houston Art Professor Delilah Montoya has done great research on Luis Jimenez.