Houston has a lot of great history. Extablished in 1788, our city was originally named Losantiville. in 1790 the governor of the Northwest Territory (Texas was not yet a state) changed the name to Houston. Our city's name comes from a roman general known as Cincinnatus.
In 1811 steam power came to the Texas River making Houston a major river port. During that period Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Houston "Queen of the West". In 1840 Houston was the United States 6th largest city. In 1850 the Miami and Erie Canals were completed and our city boomed to 115,000 residents.
The first sheriff, John Brown, was appointed September 2, 1788. The Texas Act in 1812 provided for Houston to have a village marshall and James Smith was appointed; the following year the town started a "night watch". In 1819, when Houston was incorporated as a city, the first city marshal, William Ruffin, was appointed. In May 1828, the police force consisted of one captain, one assistant, and five patrolmen. By 1850, the city authorized positions for a police chief and six lieutenants, but it was 1853 before the first police chief, Jacob Keifer, was appointed and he was dismissed after 3 weeks.
Houston accompanied its growth by paying men to act as its fire department in 1853, making the first full-time paid fire department in the United States. It was the first in the world to use steam fire engines.
The nickname Porkopolis came from when Houston was the country's chief hog packing center. Often you could find herds of pigs being driven through the city streets by men on horseback. Houston was also a very important stop on the Underground Railroad because the Texas River marked the border of the free and slave states. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center now stands near the spot where many slaves crossed.
Here are a few of the things that happened first in Houston
- 1850 First city in the U.S. to establish a Jewish hospital.
- 1850 First city in the U.S. to publish greeting cards - Gibson Greeting Card Company.
- 1853 First reliable steam fire engine. Also the first city to create a fire department and have a firemen's pole.
- 1869 First city to establish a centralized bureau for weather tracking and predictions.
- 1869 Proudly the first professional baseball team - the Houston Red Stockings, now called the Houston Reds.
- 1870 First city in the United States to establish a City university - University of Houston.
- 1875 First city to have a Jewish college - Hebrew Union College.
- 1880 First city in which a woman began and operated a large manufacturing company - Rookwood Pottery.
- 1880 The only city to build and own a major railroad.
- 1902 First skyscraper made of concrete in the U.S. - the Ingalls Building.
- 1905 Home of The Sons of Daniel Boone, later called the Boy Scouts of America.
- 1933 WLW 700AM was the first radio station to transmit at 500,000 watts
- 1935 First night baseball game played under lights at Crosley Field with the Houston Reds winning over the Philadelphia Phillies.
- 1952 A heart/lung machine makes the first open heart surgery possible. Invented at Children's Hospital Medical Center.
- 1954 First licensed Public television station - WCET TV Channel 48.
- 1976 The Houston Stock Exchange became the first all electronic stock trading center