The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Houston (city)
HOUSTON, a city and the capital of Harris co., Texas, the second city in the state in population and importance, situated at the head of tide water on Buffalo bayou, 45 m. above its mouth in Galveston bay, 46 N. W. of Galveston, and 150 m. E. S. E. of Austin ; pop. in 1860, 4,845 ; in 1870, 9,382, of whom 3,691 were colored; in 1874, estimated by the local authorities at 20,000. It is built on the left bank of the bayou, which is spanned by several bridges, the principal ones being of iron, and embraces an area of 9 sq. m. The city hall and market house of brick, just finished at a cost of $400,000, is 272 ft. long by 146 ft. wide, and has two towers, 14 by 21 ft. and 114 ft. high. It contains a hall, 70 by 110 ft., fitted up for public entertainments and capable of seating 1,300 persons. The masonic temple is a handsome structure costing $200,000. The principal hotel, the largest in the state, has accommodations for 500 guests. The city is lighted with gas, and is easily drained. The construction of street railroads and grading of streets are in progress. Houston is the centre of the railroad system of the state, and attracts the trade of the surrounding country, which is rich in grazing and agricultural products. There are six diverging lines: the Houston and Texas Central; the Houston and Great Northern and International; Houston Tap and Brazoria; Galveston, Houston, and Henderson; New Orleans and Texas; and Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado. The bayou opposite the city has a depth of 5 ft., but owing to bars in Galveston bay vessels drawing more than 4 ft. cannot reach this point. Improvements are in progress by the United States government and an incorporated company, which will render Houston accessible by vessels drawing 9 ft. The navigation of the bayou is mainly controlled by the Houston direct navigation company, which has a capital of $300,000, and owns 6 steamers, 4 tugs, and 24 barges. The whole number of vessels regularly engaged in the trade of the bayou in 1872 was 71, viz.: steamers, 10; tugs, 6; barges, 30; schooners, mostly employed in the lumber trade with the Sabine, Louisiana, and Florida coasts, 25. An extensive lumber trade is also carried on by flatboats with the bayous emptying into Buffalo bayou and San Jacinto river. The principal business, however, is manufacturing, in which Houston surpasses all other places in the state. The chief establishments, besides the extensive machine shops of the railroads, are 2 cotton factories, 4 iron and brass founderies, 3 car factories, 4 planing mills and wood works, 5 manufactories of furniture, 2 of soap, 1 of cement pipe, 1 of bone dust, 5 sheet-iron and tin works, 5 carriage and wagon works, 1 beef-packing and ice-manufacturing establishment, and 7 brick yards. There are three nurseries, two fire and marine insurance companies, a cotton press company, two national banks with a capital of $200,000, and a state bank with $500,000 capital. The valuation of property in 1873 was $7,669,625. The state fair is held here annually. The city contains 14 public schools, which in 1872 had 26 teachers and 1,228 pupils, two public libraries with about 3,000 volumes, three daily and six weekly newspapers, two monthly periodicals, and 12 churches.—Houston was settled in 1836, and in 1837 was temporarily the seat of government.