A cartographic look at Texas' largest city

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Opponents of SB 50.
    Equity

    Despite Resistance, Cities Turn to Density to Tackle Housing Inequality

    Residential “upzoning” policies being adopted from Minneapolis to Seattle were once politically out of the question. Now they’re just politically fraught.

  2. Life

    Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life

    Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government.

  3. Design

    How I. M. Pei Shaped the Modern City

    The architect, who died yesterday at the age of 102, designed iconic modern buildings on prominent sites around the world. Here are some that delight and confound CityLab.

  4. A map of the money service-class workers have left over after paying for housing
    Equity

    Blue-Collar and Service Workers Fare Better Outside Superstar Cities

    How much money do workers have after paying housing costs? For working-class and service workers in superstar cities, the affordable housing crisis hits harder.

  5. A ruined ancient temple in dense forest.
    Environment

    How the Ancient Maya Adapted to Climate Change

    Instead of focusing on the civilization’s final stages, looking at Mayan adaptations shows how their communities survived for as long as they did.