Photograph, Aerial of Industrial Plant on the Houston Ship Channel

Industrial plant on the ship channel, 1946. Image courtesy Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Houston was no longer a rough-and-tumble frontier town. By 1950, Houston boasted a population of 600,000. It had a robust complement of powerful men of business, who devoted themselves and their wealth to improving the city through donations of money and land. There were high-rise buildings in downtown and mansions in River Oaks. In 1961, the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that the Spaceflight Center would be built in Houston, cementing the idea of Houston as a technological hub. It was the fastest-growing city in the US. It was also the largest city without a professional sports team.