1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Houston

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HOUSTON, a city and the county-seat of Harris county, Texas, U.S.A., at the head of deep-sea navigation on Buffalo Bayou, a tributary of Galveston Bay, 50 m. N.W. of Galveston, and about 325 m. W. of New Orleans. Pop. (1880) 16,513; (1890) 27,557; (1900) 44,633, of whom 4415 were foreign-born and 14,608 were negroes; (1910 census) 78,800. The land area in 1906 was 16.02 sq. m.; in 1908, about 20 sq. m. It is served by the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio (Southern Pacific), the Galveston, Houston & Henderson, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe, the Houston & Texas Central (Southern Pacific), the Houston, East & West Texas, the International & Great Northern, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, the San Antonio & Aransas Pass, the Trinity & Brazos Valley, the St Louis, Brownsville & Mexico, the Texas & New Orleans, and the Houston Belt & Terminal railways, several of which have their headquarters at Houston. The Federal government has greatly improved the natural channel from the city to the Gulf of Mexico, straightening, widening and deepening it to a depth of 25 ft. for the entire distance from the Galveston jetties to the Houston turning basin—where the municipality has constructed free municipal wharves. The city occupies an unusually fine site on both sides of the Buffalo Bayou. Among the principal buildings are a Carnegie library, the Houston Lyceum, the Federal building, the Masonic temple, the city high school, the city hall and market house, the Harris County Court House, the Cotton Exchange, and the First and Commercial National banks. Houston is the seat of the Texas Dental College, of St Thomas College (1903), and of the Houston, Annunciation and St Agnes academies; and the will (1901) of William Marsh Rice provided an endowment (valued in 1908 at about $7,000,000) for the William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art, of which Dr Edgar Odell Lovett, formerly professor of mathematics (1900–1905) and of astronomy (1905–1908) in Princeton University, was made president in 1908. The city is the most important railway and shipping centre of South Texas, and has a large trade in cotton (the receipts for the year ending Aug. 31, 1907 being 2,967,535 bales), cotton-seed oil, sugar, rice,[1] lumber and citrus fruits. Houston is important also as a manufacturing centre, its factory product being valued at $13,564,019 in 1905, an increase of 81% over the factory product in 1900. There are extensive railway car-shops, cotton-seed oil, petroleum and sugar refineries, cotton gins and compresses, steel rolling mills, car-wheel factories, boiler, pump and engine works, flour mills, rice mills and a rice elevator, breweries, planing and saw-mills, pencil factories, and brick and tile factories. Its proximity to the Texas oil fields gives the city a cheap factory fuel. The assessed valuation of taxable property in the city increased from $27,480,898 in 1900 to $51,513,615 in 1908. The No-Tsu Oh Carnival week each November is a distinctive feature of the city. Houston, like Galveston, adopted in 1905 a very successful system of municipal government by commission, a commission of five (one of whom acts as mayor) being elected biennially and having both executive and legislative powers. The waterworks are owned and operated by the municipality, which greatly improved them from the city’s surplus under the first two years of government by commission. In 1908 extensive improvements in paving, drainage and sewerage were undertaken by the city. The payment of an annual poll-tax of $2.50 is a prerequisite to voting. Houston was settled and laid out in 1836, and was named in honour of General Sam Houston, whose home in Caroline Street was standing in 1908. In 1837–1839 and in 1842–1845 Houston was the capital of the Republic of Texas. About 15 m. E.S.E. of the city is the battleground of San Jacinto, which was bought by the state in 1906 for a public memorial park.

  1. Much rice is cultivated in the vicinity of Houston by Japanese farmers.