In 1836 brothers Augustus and John Allen purchased 6,642 acres of land near the headwaters of Buffalo Bayou for the princely sum of $1.40 per acre. They hired Gail Borden (publisher, surveyor, and originator of condensed milk) and Thomas Borden to survey and map the town they called Houston, in honor of Sam Houston, who had won independence for Texas by leading the its army to victory over Mexico in the Battle of Jan Jacinto earlier that same year. The founders had big ideas from the start: The town's streets were laid out 80 feet wide, with the principal east-west thoroughfare 100 feet wide. Over the years the young city developed at a steady pace, becoming the 28th state in the Union in 1846.
Houston and Harris County seceded from the Union in 1861, although the closest fighting in the Civil War was at Galveston. The city continued to grow after readmission to the Union in 1870, mainly from the trade it built by improvements to its port facilities and shipping channel. Then, in 1901, oil was discovered. Building exploded as oil facilities proliferated along the Ship Channel. Annexation expanded the city limits from 74.4 to 216 square miles. In 1962 NASA moved its Manned Spacecraft Center to Houston (the first word spoken from the moon's surface was Houston. Then the Arab oil embargo came,and Houston's economy exploded as oil prices quadrupled in 90 days. Although the recession of the late 1980s hit hard, the city recovered and continued its expansion. Today Greater Houston s population is 4.8 million in an area covering 8,778 square miles and eight counties, making it only slightly smaller than the State of Massachusetts. Its 17-block theater district is second only to that of New York Center. It boasts more than 40 institutions of higher education, the largest medical center in the world, and is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies. More than 90 languages are spoken here. Come add your voice to those singing Houston s praises.