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Houston, Then and Now (1891 to 2011)

Houston, Then and Now (1891 to 2011)

Even without a formal zoning code, Houston has been able to maintain a sense of order throughout its booms and busts. Like Atlanta, quintessentially postmodern towers and stadiums dominate the imagery of one of the largest cities in United States. However, like most southern cities that experienced rapid, post-war growth, it is also littered with ample surface parking in its downtown and sprawl beyond its core. Using an 1891 map of the city, via the Library of Congress, we looked to see just how much Houston has changed.

Almost cliche in its forms, this series of towers exemplify the rapid growth Houston experienced in the 70's and 80's...

...as do these.

Adjacent to the Convention Center, a new hotel and arena take up the area around Crawford, Dallas, Bell and Chenevert Streets.

Since 1891, this section of downtown has seen the creation of an elevated freeway, a major league ballpark and tree-dotted surface parking.

A station along Houston's new light rail is surrounded by blocks of surface parking.

Three miles south, Rice University (merely a glimmer in William Marsh Rice's eye in 1891) and professional sports stadiums have risen. The scale and density could be easily confused for a downtown in many American cities.

Keywords: Houston, Maps, Sprawl, History

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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