Picture this: August of 1836. Two real estate impresarios from the Big Apple thought it was a swell idea to invest in 6,642 acres of land along Buffalo Bayou. Brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen founded a new city.
After Sam Houston, the highly-regarded general led the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto — a struggle that lasted only 18 minutes and led to the capture of Mexican President Santa Anna the day after — 25 miles east of the city, the new place's name was set.
Houston was incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837 and named after Sam Houston.
Many years later, 175 after the founding to be exact, Houston proudly stands as the fourth largest city in the country with nearly six million strong in its Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area. Affordable real estate, good eats, a get-to-it cowboy entrepreneurial spirit, arts galore and plenty of black gold contribute to the city's economic stronghold over similar urban areas.
That's reason to celebrate.
"Houston 175: 1836 through Now" is an initiative in collaboration with the the office of Mayor Annise Parker (who is serving as the honorary chair) where a group of nonprofits — AIA Houston & Architecture Center Houston, DiverseWorks, Museum of Printing History, University of Houston-Downtown, Texas Medical Center, Houston Center for Photography and FotoFest at Allen Center, Houston Arts Alliance, Harris County - Houston Sports Authority, Houston History Association, Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library — are joining forces for the city's Dodransbicentennial (yes, that means 175).
Add that to your vocabulary, unless you prefer Terquasquicentennial, Septaquintaquinquecentennial or Quartoseptcentennial.
How to commemorate this milestone?
The kickoff birthday fete takes place Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Market Square Park. Mayor Parker, with Downtown District executive director Bob Eury, will christen the festivities with an outdoor family fest with music from the High School for the Performing and Visual Art's jazz band and an engaging performance of Interactive Theater's Texas Our Texas: The Story of the Bayou City.
Head to AIA Houston & Architecture Houston and check out the photography exhibition "Houston 175: Celebrate Architecture" curated by Barrie Scardino. The expansive collection of images is organized in 10 clusters and takes you through the city's early history to sacred buildings to the modern, tall and exotic. If you can't attend the opening reception on Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., the photographs will remain on display through Oct. 29.
There will be many other exhibitions — such as FotoFest and Houston Center for Photography's "Houston 175 - People, which will be held at One and Two Allen Center. The Museum of Printing History focuses on the city's main industries throughout history, including cotton, oil and lumber. DiverseWorks shines the spotlight on performing and visual arts in a weekend of citywide crawls set for Oct. 28-30.
More information will be posted on the Houston 175: Celebrate History website as it becomes available.
Intellectually curious? Give your brain a little exercise by attending 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, PhD, Rice University; Joseph Pratt, PhD, University of Houston; and Bernadette Pruitt, PhD, Sam Houston State University — to delve into the city's international make up in relation to its immigrant population.
Houston's main urban waterway anchors 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.
How are you planning to celebrate the Bayou City's 175th? Any crazy ideas the city should consider?