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Timeline of Houston facts for kids

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Timeline of historical events of Houston, Texas, United States:

19th century

  • 1836
    • The Allen Brothers, John Kirby, and Augustus Chapman co-found Houston.
    • First cemetery is established as "City Cemetery". It stills stands today as Founders Memorial Cemetery.
  • June 5, 1837 - The city gets a city charter from the Congress of the Republic of Texas. It becomes the provisional capital of Texas.
  • 1839 - The capital of the Republic moves to Austin, causing a dispute over state records.
  • 1863 - Houston saloon keeper Dick Dowling leads 44 Houston dockworkers to a stunning victory over 5,000 troops at the battle of Sabine Pass. Dowling becomes the city's first nationally known person.
  • 1895 - Houston is slammed by its heaviest snowfall on record in mid-February. Over 20 inches buries the city and does not melt for days.


  • 1900s - Oil is discovered in Texas, from which a new industry will start.
  • 1900 – Population: 44,633.
  • 1902 - President Theodore Roosevelt approves a one-million dollar fund for the construction of the Houston Ship Channel.
  • 1904 - Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library opens, later known as Houston Public Library.
  • 1910 – Population: 78,800.
  • 1912 - The Rice Institute opens, later known as Rice University.
  • 1914 - President Woodrow Wilson opens the Houston Ship Channel, part of the Port of Houston on November 10, 1914.
  • 1920s - The Texas oil boom causes people to move into the city, causing its first growth spurt.
  • 1920 – Population: 138,276.
  • 1927 - Houston Junior College opens its doors as part of Houston Independent School District.
  • 1930 – Population: 292,352.
  • 1934 - Houston Junior College becomes a four-year institution and changes its name to the University of Houston.
  • 1935 - A massive flood inundates Houston, killing eight people; the Harris County Flood Control District is created in the aftermath.
  • 1937 - Houston Municipal Airport, which would later become William P. Hobby Airport, is opened.
  • 1939 - The University of Houston moves to its permanent location, southeast of Downtown.
  • 1940 - Houston dismantles the last of its streetcar system.
  • 1942 - Robertson Stadium opens as Houston Public School Stadium.
  • 1945 - The University of Houston separates from HISD and becomes a private university.
  • 1947 - Houston voters defeat the first-ever referendum for citywide zoning.
  • 1947 - The predecessor to Texas Southern University, Texas State College for Negroes, a historically black college (HBCU) is the first state university in the Houston area. Its name was changed in 1951.
  • 1948 - The Gulf Freeway, Texas' first freeway, opens as U.S. Highway 75, signalling the beginning of freeway construction in the city.


  • 1958 - Zapata Petroleum in business.
  • 1961
    • NASA selects Houston for the location for its Manned Spacecraft Center.
    • Sharpstown Mall opens on September 14 and is the first indoor air-conditioned mall in the world.
  • 1962 - Houston voters defeat a referendum for zoning for a second time.
  • 1963 - The University of Houston ends its status as a private institution and becomes a state university. It enters the Texas State System of Higher Education, after a long battle with opponents from other state universities blocking the change.
  • 1963 - The Manned Spacecraft Center, which would become the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, opens on land donated by Rice University.
  • 1963 - The Humble Building is completed, then the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
  • April 9, 1965 - The Astrodome opens. At the same time, the Houston Colt .45s are rechristened as the Houston Astros.
  • 1969 - Houston Intercontinental Airport, now named George Bush Intercontinental Airport, is opened to the public.
  • July 20, 1969 - "Houston" becomes the first word spoken from the moon, by astronaut Neil Armstrong of the Apollo 11 mission.
  • 1970s - The Arab Oil Embargo causes demand for Texas oil to boom. People from the "Rust Belt" states such as New York and Pennsylvania migrate to Houston for jobs.
  • 1976 - Houston Metropolitan Research Center is established.
  • May 11, 1976 - A tanker truck of ammonia crashes at 610 and Highway 59 in the galleria, resulting in the deaths of 7 people.
  • 1977
    • National Women's Conference held in city.
    • The University of Houston celebrates its 50th anniversary as the Texas Legislature establishes the University of Houston System—a state system of higher education that includes and governs four universities.
  • 1978 - The headquarters of Continental Airlines moves to Houston after buying out Texas International.
  • 1978-1980 - Traffic signals at major intersections were improved. Houston is the first in the nation to modernize their signage, which is still done to this present day.
  • 1979 - a portion of the master-planned community of "Clear Lake City" that is in Houston's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) and an area east of Missouri City in Fort Bend County are annexed into the corporate limits of Houston.
  • 1980s - The end of the Embargo causes the Houston growth bubble to burst.
  • 1981 - Kathryn J. Whitmire is elected as the first woman mayor. She would appoint Lee P. Brown as the first African-American police chief.
  • 1982 - Texas Commerce Bank Tower is completed in Downtown Houston, making it the tallest building west of the Mississippi until the late 1980s. It is the tallest five-sided building in the world.
  • August 1983 - The University of Houston changes its name to "University of Houston–University Park" to separate its identity and rectify confusions with other universities in the University of Houston System.
  • April 5, 1986 - City takes part in celebration of Texas' Sesquicentennial, 25th Anniversary of NASA, and the Houston International Festival with Rendez-vous Houston concert. At the time it is the largest outdoor concert in history and is entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • June 1, 1987 - The former Shamrock Hilton hotel is demolished as part of the Texas Medical Center expansion efforts despite protests from historical preservationists.
  • 1989 - Outer Belt Drive (a major thoroughfare that serves Hermann Park and Ben Taub Hospital in the Texas Medical Center) is renamed North MacGregor Way; a section of North MacGregor between Outer Belt and Holcombe Boulevard is renamed North Braeswood. In 2014, the section of Outer Belt Drive was renamed Cambridge Boulevard right after a viaduct was completed over Brays Bayou connecting the southern section of Cambridge Blvd to the Texas Medical Center.
  • 1990
    • July 9–11, 1990 - Houston hosts the 16th G7 Summit.
    • Population: 1,630,553.
  • August 1991 - The University of Houston–University Park reverts to its original name "University of Houston" after controversy and resistance within the university community regarding the name change.
  • November 1991 - Elected positions within the City of Houston (the mayor, city council, and controller) were given term limits, which passed by a referendum vote. The term-limit referendum amended the current city charter.
  • April 1993 - The Westheimer Colony Art Festival is held on a stretch of Calhoun Road (now St. Joseph Parkway) in Downtown Houston; it was the first time the art festival was not held in Montrose. After 1996, the festival was renamed the Bayou City Art Festival.
  • November 1993 - Houston voters defeated a zoning referendum for the third time in almost 50 years.
  • 1994 and 1995 Houston Rockets win back to back NBA Championships.
  • 1995 - City website online (approximate date).
  • 1996 - The master-planned community of Kingwood is annexed by the city of Houston.
  • November 1997 - Former Houston Police Chief Lee P. Brown is elected as Houston's first African-American mayor; at the same time, Annise Parker is the first openly gay or lesbian city council member.
  • May 6-May 7, 2000 - After 27 years of holding the Westheimer Street Festival in Montrose, the festival was held in Eleanor Tinsley Park west of Downtown Houston. Promoters of the festival were denied a street closure permit back in January 2000 under a revised festival ordinance in which public hearings are held. Attendance figures declined.



  • June 5-June 9, 2001 - Tropical Storm Allison devastates the Houston area. It floods much of the city, including the Central Business District, several cultural institutions, and major hospitals and research facilities in the Texas Medical Center. The storm is called a 500-year event.
  • November 2001 - Enron is found to have accounting scandals. The company goes bankrupt.
  • 2002 - The University of Houston celebrates its 75th anniversary with an enrollment of 34,443 that fall semester. At the same time, the University of Houston System celebrates its 25th anniversary with an enrollment of over 54,000.
  • November 5, 2002 - Houston City Controller Sylvia R. Garcia (in her third term) successfully campaigns for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2. She becomes the first Hispanic female to hold office in the Harris County Commissioners Court. After Garcia's victory, the Houston City Council appoints Judy Gray Johnson to fill her unexpired term until the November 2003 elections.
  • May 2003 - For the first time, the Houston Art Car Parade is not held on the same weekend as the Houston International Festival.
  • June 28-June 29, 2003 - The Westheimer Street Festival staged their homecoming on Westheimer during Gay Pride Weekend after promoters decided to move the festival back to Montrose because of declining attendance at another location.
  • Fall 2003 - Halliburton's headquarters move from Dallas to Houston.
  • December 6, 2003 - Annise Parker defeats fellow council member Bruce Tatro to become Houston's first openly lesbian city controller. Both Parker and Tatro are term-limited in their current seats. At the same time, Pakistani-American realtor Masur Javed "M.J." Khan is elected as a district councilmember in District F. This encompasses most of West and parts of Southwest Houston in the Sharpstown area, where incumbent Mark Ellis won his final term as an at-large member of the Houston City Council.
  • January 1, 2004 - METRORail is opened to the public at 1 p.m. CST - this marks the reintroduction of rail service, the city's first since June 1940.
  • July 30, 2004 - The Houston City Council unanimously votes for a change in the curbside parking ordinance where Saturday metered parking is enforced. The original proposal for paid curbside parking between 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. was not popular with Downtown-area restaurant owners. (Before the 1980s, metered parking was enforced 24 hours a day - seven days a week, including holidays.) The ordinance took effect on October 22, 2004.
  • 2004 - Houston hosts the Super Bowl as well as the MLB All-Star Game.
  • 2004 - Citgo's headquarters move from Tulsa to Houston.
  • December 24, 2004 - Freak snowstorm hits, causing record Christmas snowfall in the region.
  • 2005 - The Parking Management division of the City of Houston Municipal Courts Administration is incorporated into the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • September 1, 2005 - Houston welcomes more than 125,000 displaced residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Reliant Astrodome was converted to provide food and shelter. The Governor of Texas reaffirmed his state's commitment to provide basic needs and education for victims of Katrina.
  • December 10, 2005 - Sue Lovell is elected as an at-large member of the Houston City Council, replacing term-limited councilmember Gordon Quan. This marks the second time an open lesbian is elected to the Houston City Council. Houston is the only major city to have two elected officials who are openly lesbian.
  • June 19, 2006 - Major flooding in Southeast Houston causes homes and roads to fill up with water. This was the most rain since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001
  • September 1, 2006 - Red light cameras ten major intersections within the Houston City Limits (three of the first ten intersections are located in the Downtown/Midtown area). The red-light camera measure passed by a majority vote on the Houston City Council in December 2004. Motorists who run a red light face $75 civil fines ($150 for subsequent violations) instead of a $220 moving violation when cited by a police officer.
  • December 12, 2009 - Annise Parker wins the runoff election to become Houston's 61st mayor, and the first woman since Kathy Whitmire to hold the office in 1991. With this election, Houston became the largest American city with an openly gay mayor. At-large councilmember Ronald C. Green is also elected as Houston's first African American city controller alongside Aloysius Hoang, the first Vietnamese American elected to the Houston City Council.



  • September 25, 1970 - August 8, 1973 - "Houston Mass Murders" occur. 27 boys are killed by 3 men.
  • July 1978 - Race Riots occur in the Moody Park section of the city (in response to the drowning of Jose Campos Torres by two Houston Police officers, and are documented by KPRC-TV, whose reporters are attacked and injured during their report.
  • April 16, 1997 - Doris Angleton is murdered in her River Oaks home. Her husband, Robert Angleton, and his brother, Roger Angleton, would be suspected for the crime.
  • June 20, 2001 - Andrea Yates drowns her children in a bathtub. She was found to be suffering from postpartum depression.
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