Houston History
Decades   LegacyCitizensPreservationCommunityHouston Voices
The Decades
a chronology from 1836
Our Legacy
stories of our past
Great Citizens
making a difference
Preservation
historical landmarks
Our Community
join us
Houston Voices
trackback

TIMELINE 1940 - 1950

1940

Houston ranked twenty-first in the nation with population of 384,514. It was a 31.5 percent increase over 1930, and the black population was now 86,302. Houston also had registered 170,000 motor vehicles

Ship arrivals fell to 2,809, but freight tonnage remained near the 1939 level with 27,385,589 tons

Five steamship lines discontinued service to Houston, as the war disrupted shipping

Building permits worth $24,253,888 were issued

The city possessed a $22,000,000 public school system with 2,250 teachers, 74,000 students, and 115 buildings. All facilities were segregated

February 20

A board of army engineers and Federal representatives announced approval of a $32,000,000 Harris County's flood control plan

March

The first diesel locomotive of the Houston Belt and Terminal Railroad is placed in service

April

The bus system replaces a 60-year tradition of street cars. An agreement was reached between the city and the Houston Electric Company for abandoning streetcar lines and inaugurating an all-bus transit system

June 9

The last electric streetcar to operate in Houston completed its final run

July 21

With all appropriation of $585,000 from the U.S. Housing Authority, local authorities began a second low-rent project in Houston, San Felipe Courts. It was inspired by a survey which revealed 25,680 families living in substandard housing

October 16

The nation's first peacetime draft called 77,177 Harris County men to registration offices

1941

The Houston Zoological Gardens are established

Ship arrivals continued to drop slowly with 2,051 registered, along with barge and ship freight totaling 25,623,078 tons

Cotton and oil remained the city's primary industries. There were twelve high-density cotton compresses, five miles producing over fifty cotton by-products, and warehouse facilities for three million cotton bales. Houston also was host to the headquarters or branch offices of 1,205 oil companies. Oil and related industries employed 40,000, with an annual payroll of $50,000,000

In Houston and immediate vicinity the federal government spent over $250,000,000 for defense preparations

Construction began on a $17,000,000 Sheffield Steel plant on the ship channel near Irish Bend Island

The Houston Shipbuilding Corporation (Todd Shipbuilding) constructed a $7,000,000 shipyard on Irish Bend Island, part of the expansion of this industry which came to Houston with the war

There were 147 trade union groups, with a combined membership of over 40,000, including railroad men

The Houston Zoo's most flamboyant zoo keeper, Hans Nagel dies in a zoo shooting incident that was labeled a "jurisdictional dispute"

January 2

C.A. (Neal) Picket took office as mayor

April 1

A 4,700-acre U.S. Army Ordinance Depot was opened on the ship channel opposite the San Jacinto Battlefield

May

Headquarters were opened for the Defense Contract Service, Office of Production Management. It was an agency to coordinate defense efforts with Gulf Coast industrial plants

National defense programs speed the production of Houston factories; among additions are the erecting of tutol plants in Baytown and Deer Park, a plant near Pasadena to manufacture synthetic rubber from petroleum gasses, a $7,020,000 shipyard, a $17,000,000 steel mill, and a U.S. Army Ordinance Depot and Ship Terminal costing several million dollars, near the San Jacinto Battlefield

The first locally constructed defense program vessel was launched by the Seabrook Yacht Corporation. It was an aircraft rescue vessel

June

Andrew Jackson Houston, aged son of Gen. Sam Houston, is sworn into the U.S. Senate as the oldest man ever to serve in that body

July 18

The first keels for Liberty Ships were laid by the Houston Shipbuilding Corporation. Within fifteen months, twenty-three ships would be launched

1942

Ship arrivals were now down to 877, a decrease of over 2,200 from the 1939 level. Tonnage had decreased from 28,174,710 in 1939 to 17,661,447 in 1942

The Houston Art Museum received sixty-five paintings by Frederick Remington, among other new acquisitions

February

Gene Autry, riding his horse Champion, opened the 10th annual Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo

March

Houston voters authorize the sale of land adjacent to Hermann Park to the M.D. Anderson Foundation. The 134-acre site near Hermann Hospital, would become the massive Texas Medical Center

March-July

Working on war contracts, the Houston Shipbuilding Corporation expanded its payroll from 6,000 to 20,000. During the war, the company turned out 208 cargo vessels and 14 tankers

May

Mrs. W. P. Hobby of Houston is named head of the U. S. Women's Army

August

The city-manager form of government was instituted with eight council members, a part-time mayor, and the first city manager, John North Edy

The Cruiser Houston engages in violent combat and is sunk off the Java Coast

September

Janet Gaynor, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, and Robert Stack participate in "American Night" at the Coliseum

1943

Ship arrivals in Houston's Port reached a wartime low of 630, with tonnage of 15,047,871

January

Houston said goodbye to the commission form of government and ushered in the city manager form with the inauguration of Otis Massey and the eight city councilmen

April

Forty-five Houston companies held prime government war contracts which stimulated such industries as chemicals, natural gas, shipbuilding, and parts manufacturing

The M. D. Anderson Foundation successfully woos the Baylor College of Medicine to the city of Houston from Dallas

June

The original Weingartens Grocery at 1502 Main is destroyed in a spectacular fire which was fought by most of Houston's fie fighting equipment

September

45 people are killed and 30 injured in a fire at the Gulf Hotel at Preston and Louisiana in Houston's worst disaster

November

Wendel Wilkie speaks in Houston

1944

In terms of tonnage handled, the city's port had slipped from third to sixth during the war. Ship arrivals numbered 759, while tonnage stood at 16,956,538

The Tennessee Gas Transmission Company (Tenneco after 1966) was founded, symbolizing the city's growth as a natural gas center

July

The Houston Civic Theatre Players resent their first play "The First Mrs. Fraser"

August

City Hall is sponsoring a contest to find 16 to 20 girls, 16 years old and up, to be pin-up girls

September

Col. Maurice Hirsh is appointed chairman of the Price Adjustments Board of the War Department

December

The M.D. Anderson Foundation starts the construction of the Texas Medical Center on the triangular site bounded by Fannin, Bellaire and the Herman Hospital and park

December 19

Voters approved monies for purchasing the city-owned port facilities for the Navigation District, for constructing tunnels under the channel, and for port improvements

1945

The M. D. Anderson Foundation forms the Texas Medical Center Corporation to oversee the Medical Centers development

Houston's Port moved from sixth to fourth in national rankings as the post-war recovery commenced. Ship arrivals numbered 1,346, and combined barge and ship freight was 23,869,878 tons

Flood protection was being provided by army engineers, who were constructing two earth-filled dams west of the city

The war left the local chemical industry with installations worth $600,000,000 , and in a brief time another 300,000,000 would be invested

February

A house to house bond drive is held

March

Hugh Roy Cullen, the wealthy conservative oilman, donated $1,000,000 each to four hospitals, Hermann, Memorial, Methodist, and St. Luke's

March 2

Congress approved a project for widening the ship channel

June

13 gorgeous girls compete for the title of Miss Houston at the midnight " E " Bond Jamboree

July 1

City owned port facilities were transferred to the Navigation District for $1,500,000, permitting the latter body to spend the money for reconditioning which the city had refused to do

November

Arabia Temple Shrine Circus opens in Houston

1945

The M. D. Anderson Foundation forms the Texas Medical Center Corporation to oversee the Medical Centers development

Houston's Port moved from sixth to fourth in national rankings as the post-war recovery commenced. Ship arrivals numbered 1,346, and combined barge and ship freight was 23,869,878 tons

Flood protection was being provided by army engineers, who were constructing two earth-filled dams west of the city

The war left the local chemical industry with installations worth $600,000,000 , and in a brief time another 300,000,000 would be invested

February

A house to house bond drive is held

March

Hugh Roy Cullen, the wealthy conservative oilman, donated $1,000,000 each to four hospitals, Hermann, Memorial, Methodist, and St. Luke's

March 2

Congress approved a project for widening the ship channel

June

13 gorgeous girls compete for the title of Miss Houston at the midnight " E " Bond Jamboree

July 1

City owned port facilities were transferred to the Navigation District for $1,500,000, permitting the latter body to spend the money for reconditioning which the city had refused to do

November

Arabia Temple Shrine Circus opens in Houston

1946

Ship arrivals at Houston's port totaled 2,057, and tonnage handled rose to 31,837,453 tons, surpassing the 1939 level for the first time

Local businessmen formed the Central Houston Improvement Association, which, over a three-year period, obtained better police protection, shoppers' buses, and a $10,418,000 investment in remodeling, new construction, and public improvements in downtown Houston

Houston's homicide rate was 24.4 per 100,000

Rice Institute received a $1,000,000 library through the philanthropy of Ella A. Fondren

February

161 acres of ground are dedicated for the Texas Medical Center by E.W. Bertner

February 20

City employees struck after pay hike demands were rejected

April

The Independent Petroleum Association of America meets in Houston

May 22

The Civil Aeronautics Board designated Houston an international terminal and certified Braniff, Southern, and Pan-American for flights to Central and South America and the Caribbean

July

Houstonian Howard Hughes is seriously injured in the test flight of a plane he had built

November

Oscar Holcombe was once again elected mayor, this time on a strong-mayor platform

Eddie Dyer of Houston manages the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team to win the World Series

1947

The Foleys Department Store building opens and is one of the most popular stores in Houston

January

The 2nd public induction of city officials ever held in Houston takes place

April

Charles Matthew Winfree received the quickest life term ever assessed in a Houston court. It took the jury only 3 minutes to return a verdict of guilty

April 16

Shipboard explosions demolish Texas City, with 565 dead

The FBI recommended 2.23 patrolmen for every 1,000 people. Houston had 0.93 per 1,000 residents

The Roman Catholic Church opened the University of St. Thomas

Houston College for Negroes became Texas State University for Negroes, part of the state system

An investigator hired by Harris County revealed dangerous pollution levels in Buffalo Bayou, claiming that the water was 80 percent sewage

July

Oscar Holcombe took office as mayor, and the city manager form of municipal government was abandoned in favor of a strong mayor arrangement

July 31

Army engineers recommended that the ship channel be deepened to 36 feet along its entire length

September

The fund drive to permanently house the USS Texas gets underway in Houston

October 11

The City National Bank opened displaying the new contemporary architecture of postwar Houston

Alley Theatre of Houston gives its first performance under the direction of Nina Vance

November 2

Howard Hughes of Houston pilots Hercules flying boat, with largest wingspan ever constructed

1948

Houston Port became number two in the nation in tonnage handled, ranking behind New York with 38,904,464 tons. For the first time, the value of channel freight surpassed $1 billion

Houston was rated as the fastest growing city per capita in the nation. Building permits issued by the city totaled $100,160,322, and those for Harris County shot up to $266,802,075

February

Voters rejected zoning for the city by a two to one margin, maintaining Houston's status as the only un-zoned city in the U.S

The 30th Annual Crippled Children's Ball is held in the Coliseum by the Arabia Temple Shrine

June

Over 2,000,000 worth of horses compete in the Pin Oaks Charity Horse Show

November

Three inches of rain in three hours breaks a five month drought in Houston

November 2

Houston's Harris County was the only one in Texas carried by J. Strom Thurmond, the "Dixiecrat" candidate for President

December

Houston doubled its size (began at 76 square miles) by annexing six suburbs and part of another

December 11

Houston's first television broadcast emanated from station KLEE-TV to about 2,000 receiving sets

Houston has doubled its size to 73 square miles through annexation of neighboring areas and is also ranking as the fastest growing city in the United States

Ima Hogg elected first woman president of the Philosophical Society of Texas

1949

A bitter strain of conservatism surfaced in the city's Independent School system over the question of federal aid for lunches. The School Board's chairman, Ewing Werlein, warned federal aid would lead to federal control, and in the fall a special drive collected private funds for lunches

January

Deer Park holds their first election of city officials

March

Houston leads the nation in post-war industrial expansion with 83 plants costing $110,700,000

March 17

On St. Patrick's Day, amidst one of the wildest celebrations in the city's history, Oilman Glen McCarthy opened his "63 Shades-of-Green" Shamrock Hotel, a $21,000,000 luxury accommodation. The melee was complete with 50,000 celebrants, 175 movie stars flown in, and a broadcast of the Dorothy Lamour radio program from the hotel

October 24

The city's conservative school board banned Frank Magruder's text, American Government, because it alluded to socialist tendencies in American society. The text had been used for sixteen years and had the support of 90 percent of the faculty

There are 268 oil fields operating within a 100-mile radius of Houston

August

The Houston Little Theater begins its 25th year

1950

Ship arrivals numbered 3,721, with a combined barge and ship freight of 40,825,048 tons

The city's population was 596,163, a jump of 55.5 percent over 1940. Houston's black population was 150,452, 19 percent of the total

The city included 1,174 manufacturing establishments producing goods annually valued at $781,600,000. Chief among the products were foods, chemicals, petroleum, iron and metal goods, and heavy machinery

Bank deposits since 1940 increased 282 percent

Automobile registrations in Harris County stood at 322,000, an increase of 89.4 percent over 1940

In a vote to test public sentiment, organizations such as the Council for Free Enterprise helped defeat public housing

January 24

Five blacks filed suit to gain access to the Municipal Golf Course

February

George R. Brown, Vice President of Brown & Root, Inc., is named chairman of the board of Trustees at Rice Institute

May 27

The Pasadena Tunnel was opened under the ship channel. This, and another tunnel opened three years later, alleviated traffic congestion and eliminated the need for ferry service on the channel

July

Staff Sgt. Nyle S. Mickley, Jr. of Houston is credited with shooting down the first North Korean plane of the Korean War

October

Ground is broken for the 18 story Prudential Insurance Company building to be located near the Medical Center

December 25

Ground was broken for a hospital for cancer research

Rice Institute completes the 70,000 seat Rice Stadium

William Goyan of Houston publishes House of Breath

Houston Westbury baseball team wins world Little League title

 

 





Our Vintage Sponsors

Copyright 2015 HoustonHistory.com. All rights reserved.