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. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. A participant holding a Defund Police sign at the protest in Brooklyn.
    Equity

    The Movement Behind LA's Decision to Cut Its Police Budget

    As national protesters call for defunding police, a movement for anti-racist “people’s budgets” is spreading from LA to Nashville to Grand Rapids.

  4. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  5. Law enforcement officers accompanied Minneapolis fire fighters along Lake Street as fires burned early Friday morning.
    Equity

    How Cities Offload the Cost of Police Brutality

    Cities spend tens of millions of dollars on lawsuits over police violence and killings. But municipalities are effectively using residents to mortgage the cost.

×