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HISTORICALLY HOUSTON
Happy 175th Birthday… HOUSTON!


The Bayou City celebrates her dodransbicentennial with exciting events for everyone

Vintage photos courtesy of The Sloane Collection

By Cheryl Alexander

Houston is celebrating! The Bayou City doesn’t need much of an excuse to throw a party, but in case you haven’t heard… our fair city is having a rather important birthday. She’s turning 175 this year — and when you compare her to other more matronly municipalities, she’s still a pretty fresh little fledgling. To celebrate Houston’s dodransbicentennial, some don’t-miss events are planned around town in the weeks ahead.

Working with Mayor Annise Parker and her staff, a group of Houston nonprofit organizations have come together to celebrate Houston’s 175th birthday. “Houston 175” will produce 10 exhibitions, each investigating Houston’s history in one broad area, with an accompanying exhibition catalog:

•Architecture: Curated for Architecture Center Houston by Barrie Scardino, this exhibition (on view through Oct. 29) will explore the history of Houston’s built environment with hundreds of photographs organized in 10 clusters: First (early history), Sacred, Civic, Shelter, Beautiful, Culture, Modern, Tall, Shop and Exotic.

•Arts: Curated by Diane Barber of DiverseWorks, this exhibition will be mounted in Space 125 at the Houston Arts Alliance. It will include both visual and performing arts and online audio walking tours. A film program with movies filmed in or about Houston will be held at DiverseWorks as part of Houston 175.

•Commerce: The Museum of Printing History is mounting a comprehensive exhibition featuring the history of commerce in Houston from early cotton and lumber, then oil, to the multi-faceted commercial interests today.

•Education: The University of Houston – Downtown, O’Kane Gallery presents “Educating Houston: 1836–2011,” which explores the beginnings of education in Houston from its earliest forays into a cluster of institutions that now serve the fourth largest city in the United States. The exhibition will present historic photographs, memorabilia, artifacts, and a time line of important events in Houston’s history of education.

•Government: The Houston city government exhibition will be on display at the City of Houston, Mayor’s Office at Houston City Hall.

•Medicine: This exhibition focuses on the development of the Texas Medical Center from its land purchase from the city and establishment of the M.D. Anderson Foundation (1936), and construction of the first buildings Hermann Hospital (1925) and Baylor College of Medicine (1947). There are an enormous number of buildings and institutions in the TMC today, and some outstanding buildings constructed throughout its history into the 21st century.

•People: Houston Center for Photography and FotoFest are organizing an exhibition at Allen Center that will include the work of several prominent portrait artists — featuring the fascinating and varied faces of Houstonians.

•Public Spaces: Houston’s parks and boulevards add enormously to the quality of life in our city. This exhibition will focus on these public spaces and include public art. The exhibit can be viewed at the Houston Arts Alliance Gallery.

•Sports: This exhibition, designed by Minor Design, will have a timeline of sports activities and clubs from Houston’s early bicycle and fishing clubs, amateur teams, early professional teams, and college teams. The timeline will mark significant sports events until today. A special section of the exhibition will be mounted for each of Houston’s current teams: the Astros, Rockets, Texans, Dynamos and Aeros.

•Transportation: This exhibition is titled “From Draft Horse to NASA: 175 Years of Trans­portation in Houston” and explores the idea that while Houston may be well-known as an oil town, Houston’s history as a hub for transportation continues to color our local culture and economy. Images and ephemera from the collections of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, part of HPL’s Special Collections Division, will describe the city’s evolution through transportation. The exhibit will run through Nov. 15 in the Central Library Art Gallery.

If you need even more intellectual stimulation than all that, then make plans to attend the Houston History Association’s academic Houston History Conference on Oct. 29 at Hilton-University of Houston Hotel and Conference Center. “Milestones and Arrivals: 175 Years of Coming to Houston” will bring together a panel of experts — Stephen Klineberg, Ph.D., Rice University; Joseph Pratt, Ph.D., University of Houston; and Bernadette Pruitt, Ph.D., Sam Houston State University — to delve into the city’s international make up in relation to its immigrant population.

Parents and kids alike will enjoy a dodransbicentennial-themed KBR Kids Day on Buffalo Bayou on Saturday, Oct. 29, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Sabine to Bagby Promenade. Families can learn about animals, insects, wildflowers and wetlands through craft activities, hikes, scavenger hunts, paddling demonstrations, and leisurely tours on Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s pontoon boat.

On Nov. 12 at the Church of Christ in The Heights, Houston Arts & Media and Houston Lifestyles & Homes magazine’s own Story Sloane will present the second annual “Houston History Book Fair and Symposium.” This is the perfect opportunity to meet the authors who represent the front line in preserving our region’s history, and the event is free to the public. Contact Story Sloane III at 281-496-2212 or visit sloanegallery.com for more information.

 

SHOW THE WORLD YOUR HOUSTON

For those who like to keep it interactive and social, Houston 175 has a special place just for you: Show the world YOUR Houston — your own favorite piece of the city. To play along, go to the website (houston175.org), download a “My Houston Is Here” sign, print it, and photograph yourself holding it in your favorite spot. Then upload the photo to the site. You won’t be the only one, trust me!

Mayor Annise Parker chose to hold her sign in front of the new Rosemont Pedestrian Bridge — a “three-fer,” she calls the spot, because it combines a killer view of downtown with the new bridge over Buffalo Bayou and a new piece of public art — the Tolerance sculptures by Barcelona-based Jaume Plensa.

Maybe, like Deborah Duncan, your Houston is where you work: She chose the set of her TV show, Great Day Houston. Maybe your Houston is where you play: Ayesha Tiscareño and her family picked the oak-lined jogging trail around Rice University. Maybe your Houston is the neighborhood where you live: Heights resident Star Massing posed on 19th Street. Maybe it’s where your kids go to school: Angela Foster hung from monkey bars at Oak Forest Elementary. Or your Houston may be spiritual: Margaret Menger chose South Main Baptist Church because it’s where her parents met, married, served faithfully for decades, and reared six children to do the same. Click, print, pose and upload. Show the world your Houston!

 

REASONS TO BE PROUD

From modest beginnings in 1836 as a real estate venture by brothers John and Augustus Allen, Houston has continued to attract influential, energetic, vibrant people who overflow with the “can do” spirit. Now, 175 years after her founding, Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States with a metropolitan area that more than 6 million people call home. We additionally comprise one of the most racially and ethnically diverse communities in the country. Though we sit some 50 miles from the Gulf, we have the second busiest port in the nation, and the Johnson Space Center, along with the largest medical center in the world, the Texas Medical Center. Houston headquarters more Fortune 500 companies than any city except New York; far surpassing the ambitious vision of its founders that she one day would grow into “the great interior commercial emporium of Texas.”

Story Sloane, whose Houston images are compiled here for your enjoyment, says, “It has been almost a decade since I partnered with Houston Lifestyles & Homes to bring Houston’s visual history to its readers, representing several hundred vintage images of our region. In honor of Houston’s 175th birthday I decided to pick out a few of my favorites to share with you. These photographs help to illustrate the positive attitude of our citizens even during troubling times. Since her founding in 1836, and through the hard work of her citizens, Houston has developed into a world-class city second to none. I urge all to attend as many of the 175th Houston birthday celebrations as possible to learn more about our great city’s past.”

We have lots to be proud of and celebrating Houston has never been more fun! Join in every chance you get. Visit houston175.org for information on all the projects and events.

Today Houston is known as the Energy Capital of the world. In the 1920s, these young boys dreamed of striking it rich as oil tycoons.

Today Houston is known as the Energy Capital of the world. In the 1920s, these young boys dreamed of striking it rich as oil tycoons.

There was a time when staying cool or keeping your food fresh depended on a weekly visit from the Ice Man. This man, holding a 25-pound chip off a 100-pound block, worked for Home Ice Company.

There was a time when staying cool or keeping your food fresh depended on a weekly visit from the Ice Man. This man, holding a 25-pound chip off a 100-pound block, worked for Home Ice Company.

The Houston Watch Company was, as the sign in the window states, “A Friendly Place to Trade.” R.J. Slagle beckons customers to visit his store in 1928.

The Houston Watch Company was, as the sign in the window states, “A Friendly Place to Trade.” R.J. Slagle beckons customers to visit his store in 1928.

In 1928, this illuminated sign —“Welcome to Houston — Gateway to the World,” located at the intersection of Main Street and Bellaire Boulevard, was the first thing folks would see as they approached the city at night.

In 1928, this illuminated sign —“Welcome to Houston — Gateway to the World,” located at the intersection of Main Street and Bellaire Boulevard, was the first thing folks would see as they approached the city at night.

Even during the Great Depression, local businessmen considered Houston a city of great opportunity. This airstrip was located just south of The Rice Institute.

Even during the Great Depression, local businessmen considered Houston a city of great opportunity. This airstrip was located just south of The Rice Institute.

This group of local Chevrolet dealers took a moment to capture their departure on film in 1926. They were off to a convention to recognize their sales expertise.

This group of local Chevrolet dealers took a moment to capture their departure on film in 1926. They were off to a convention to recognize their sales expertise.

The Shamrock Hotel, at one time, was considered the social hub of Houston. It was built to last 100 years but lasted less than 40. Its Texas-sized swimming pool was the perfect place to cool down. Here are the Corkettes, a synchronized swim team

The Shamrock Hotel, at one time, was considered the social hub of Houston. It was built to last 100 years but lasted less than 40. Its Texas-sized swimming pool was the perfect place to cool down. Here are the Corkettes, a synchronized swim team

This is the Harris County Courthouse in the late 1920s. It was recently restored to its original 1910 glory and well worth a look.

This is the Harris County Courthouse in the late 1920s. It was recently restored to its original 1910 glory and well worth a look.

This photo represents a total community effort to accomplish a common goal. The Chamber of Commerce, with more than 500 volunteers, raised over $500,000 in 1930 for the Community Chest (now known as the United Way). That was a formidable accomplishment considering that the stock market crash of 1929 was just one year earlier.

This photo represents a total community effort to accomplish a common goal. The Chamber of Commerce, with more than 500 volunteers, raised over $500,000 in 1930 for the Community Chest (now known as the United Way). That was a formidable accomplishment considering that the stock market crash of 1929 was just one year earlier.


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