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TIMELINE 1950 - 1960


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


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


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


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


Construction was begun on the Houston International Airport
(William P. Hobby Airport as of 1967)

Texas State University for Negroes became Texas Southern University

With the slogan, "Guarding the Land We Love," the Minute Women were formed. A local branch of a national anticommunist group, they watch dogged government and school officials, especially teachers


Houston, already crippled by sleet, snow, and freezing rain, has a low of 15 degrees and all schools are closed

February 24

The University of Houston cancelled a speech by Dr. B. Kumarappa, India's representative to the United Nations, because of the man's anti-American views

May 27

W. F. Heavey outlined plans for $21,000,000 worth of channel improvements


A gang riot erupts near Playland Park and 36 youths are jailed


Mrs. George L. Downs purchases the 100,000th television set to be sold in Houston

October 13

Rice Institute was presented with a Van de Graff accelerator (atom-smasher) by the Atomic Energy Commission


Ship arrivals at Houston's Port numbered 3,769, and tonnage freighted on the channel stood at 46,608,420 tons. For the first time, tonnage was valued at over $2,000,000,000

The University of Houston and the Independent School District were given the old facilities of KPRC-TV by the Hobby family. The resulting KUHT-TV became the worlds first educational TV station in May 1953

This year marked the high point for the Minute Women, who now claimed 1,000 members. They elected Mrs. F. G. Dyer to the school board on an anti-UNESCO platform and were in the vanguard of the attack on deputy school superintendent George W. Ebay

A black man became the foreman of a Houston jury for the first time since Reconstruction

Houston recorded 134 murders


Sheriff C. V. (Buster) Kern and Ranger Johnny Klevenhagen physically assault lawyer Percy Foreman after Diego Carleno is found not guilty of murder


On land donated by Will and Susan Clayton, the city opened its first housing project since World War II. The 348-unit project was mainly for Latin Americans


Billy Graham announced, "Most Houstonians will spend an eternity in hell."when he preaches to 60,000 people in Rice Institute Stadium

August 1

The Gulf Freeway between Houston and Galveston was completed. State and federal governments funded 86 percent of it

"Shivercrats" bolt the national Democratic Party to support Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower elected president


Judge Roy Hofheinz, boy wonder of Harris County, announces he will run for Mayor


Roy M. Hofheinz became mayor of Houston

The NAACP protested segregation in the cafeteria of the new County Courthouse

The Baytown-LaPorte tunnel under the ship channel was opened

At a school board meeting, an attorney, John P. Rogge, accused of being a "Commie." The FBI declared him "clean as a whistle." and a 348-page report by the General Research Company found no communist connections


Frank Lloyd Wright, 83, is in Houston for a speaking engagement


The home of Jack Ceasar is rocked by a dynamite explosion in the first episode of open violence to make Ceasar move out of the white neighborhood

June 5

In a warehouse off Rosine, between West Dallas and West Clay, sparks ignited a fireworks display under assembly, setting off 45,000 pounds of explosives. The ensuing explosion and fire at the Alco Fireworks and Speciality Co. warehouse killed four people, including two children and their mother (Jean Walton in her early 20s, and Cathy Walton age 4, John Walton age 2, and their neighbor Jessie Jane Oates Barziza also in her early 20s)


After a bitter fight, Houston voters rejected an $18 million bond issue to purchase private docks in Long Reach and construct new facilities

The 11th annual Harris County Fair is held

October 11- 21

Journalist Ralph O'Leary wrote an award winning series of articles for the Houston Post on the Minute Women. Putting together names, dates, and facts, the series drained the movement of much of its venom

KUHT, the first education television station in the U.S. begins broadcasting from the campus of the University of Houston

Lyndon B. Johnson elected minority leader of U.S. Senate

Oveta Culp Hobby of Houston named U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare


Ship arrivals at the Port numbered 3,574, and combined barge and ship freight on the channel totaled 43,244,841 tons

The Rehabilitation Committee of Downtown Houston was founded as yet another effort to revive the area between Buffalo Bayou and Texas Avenue

Segregation on city buses was ended

Houston's water supply was increased with water from a reservoir created by a dam on the San Jacinto River

KPRC-TV made Houston's first color broadcast


U.S. Representative Albert Thomas is almost hit by gunfire in the House of Chamber

April 21

Senator Joe McCarthy spoke on San Jacinto Day. An anticipated crowd of 40,000 failed to materialize; only about 4,200 heard the senator


Plans are announced by former Mayor Oscar Holcombe to build a $4,000,000 shopping center at South Park Blvd. and Griggs Road


The Chamber of Commerce held "M Day" to celebrate the addition of the metropolitan area's (Harris County) millionth citizen


Mrs. Annie Battlestien, 81, wife of the founder of Battlestien's Department Store, dies in Houston.

October 29

Houston International Airport was opened


The University of Houston was granted full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

Valerie Bettis of Houston choreographs A Streetcar Named Desire for American Ballet Theatre and dance the lead role with Scott Douglas of El Paso


The Nation's twelfth largest city ranked fifty-seventh in support of public libraries

Houston's Port dropped to fourth nationally in terms of tonnage handled

A biracial school committee suggested desegregation immediately "if the superintendent finds it possible, under existing circumstances"

Private cars and traffic congestion continued to mount. A test showed that one mile at 5:30 P.M. downtown took seven minutes and forty seconds


If present trends continue, Houston babies born this year will have a life expectancy of 137 years


Sugar is selling in the stores for 35 cents a five pound bag

July 25

Mayor Hofheinz offered to stand trial in the face of an impeachment move by the council. The mayor and council were embroiled in a dispute over proposed charter amendments that would have affected the power balance in city government

August 17

Voters approved a charter amendment to shorten city council terms by a year, and they approved new municipal elections for November. They defeated eighteen proposed amendments, backed by councilmen, which would have curbed the mayor's power and strengthened their own

August 27

City councilmen dropped their impeachment move against Mayor Hofheinz

October 17

The new Texas National Bank opened with its fifteen-foot weather ball on top

A group of citizens founds the Houston Ballet, which is the states first


Oscar Holcombe is elected Mayor of Houston again when he defeats Roy Hofheinz, the incumbent


Oscar F. Holcombe again took office as mayor. He first did so in 1921

The Port of Houston recorded 3,754 ship arrivals with a combined barge and ship freight of 52,293,262 tons

Houston's geographic size doubled as it absorbed twenty-seven outlying districts


The worst duststorm in Houston's history drops visibility to 1/2 mile and kills 12 people

May 26

The Census Bureau noted a trend in population movement toward the suburbs


Over $240,000,000 in federal highway funds were made available to the Houston area

More than 100 girls are overcome by heat at City Auditorium while attending a Rainbow Girl Grand Assembly meeting

June 16

The aluminum-faced Bank of the Southwest opened

August 11

The city council designed a twenty-acre Sam Houston Park as a repository for the city's historic buildings


Houston is designated the "next target" by the N. A. A. C. P. in its fight to desegregate public schools


Sponsored by the NAACP, Dolores Ross and Beneva Williams filed suit to break the segregation policy of Houston's school system

The Houston Grand Opera gives its first performance

Bill Lillard of Houston wins last of six American Bowling Congress Championships

Houstonians approve a bond issue to facilitate the expansion of the port by widening the ship channel to 400 feet and deepening it to a size of 40 feet


The Houston school board banned three books; a geography text whose foreword praised the U.N. , a text with a chapter entitled "It's All One World," and a text which claimed the government is obligated "to promote the welfare of all the people"

The city recorded 136 murders, the highest murder rate in the nation


The 1957 National Automobile show is held in Houston

January 31

Houston voters approved a critical bond issue for expansion of port facilities

The Port's future was assured when the state legislature unanimously passed a bill permitting the Port Commission to issue long-term revenue bonds secured by the port's future earnings


Dr. Paul Dudley White speaks to a group of area physicians


To head off criticism during impending law suits, the school board adopted a vague policy of no desegregation before the completion of the existing building program and none before 1960


The first jet touched down at the International Airport, making the three-year-old facility essentially obsolete


An estimated 40,000 people turn out to watch the 2nd Annual Southwest Championship Outboard Races on Lake Houston

October 4

The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first man-made Earth Satellite, wining Round 1 of a Cold War space race that lasted two decades

October 15

Federal District Court Judge Ben C. Connally ordered desegregation of public schools "with all deliberate speed"

The Houston International Airport opens 10 miles south of the Central Business District

End of a disastrous drought which began in 1950


Lewis Cutrer became mayor of Houston


Over $1,000,000 is left to the Arabia Temple Crippled Children's Clinic by the late Mrs. Lillian T. Kincaid


The Pin Oak Charity Show is held in Houston

October 1

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is established to guide U.S. space exploration

The Port recorded 4,337 ship arrivals with a combined barge and ship freight of 55,258,046 tons

Army engineers recommended deepening the channel to forty feet to permit passage of larger vessels

Houston was labeled "Murder town, USA" by Time Magazine for maintaining the highest murder rate in the nation, 15 per 100,000

Jefferson Davis Hospital, a city charity institution, was struck by an epidemic of staphylococcus infection. Two hundred and seventy-nine cases and seventeen deaths occurred and served to highlight the low quality of health care for the poor

November 5

Mrs. C. E. White elected to the School Board, the first black ever elected to that body

November 11

A cross was burned at Mrs. White's home

Defensive expert Slater "Dugie" Martin of Houston plays for St. Louis, the last of his five National Basketball Association championship teams

Kenny Rogers of Houston has his first national hit record with "Crazy Feeling"


Mayor Cultrer asks the State to check into the racket situation in Houston



Baylor College of Medicine plans a new $4,500,000 expansion

January 7

The first Port revenue bonds were approved by the Port Commissioners. It was a $12,500,000 issue to finance port improvements

January 13

Mrs. C. E. White was sworn in as a school board member without incident

February 3

Deaths of Buddy Holly of Lubbock and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson of Houston in plane crash

A local millionaire and his wife anonymously contributed $7,000,000 to build the city's first Lutheran hospital

Professional football came to Houston with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League


Confronted with severe financial problems and declining enrollment, the University of Houston applied for full state support. The necessary legislature was passed and the measure implemented in September 1963


The NAACP filed a petition in the Federal District Court charging that no action had been taken on school desegregation

Lloyd Bentsen, Jr. and the Sheraton Corporation announce plans for a $15,000,000 hotel and office building to be located on the block bounded by Milam, Polk, Louisiana, and Dallas

July 1

District Court Judge Conally ordered the Houston School Board to prevent its integration plan by mid-August


The school board revealed a 373-page report to the District Court that it had no desegregation plan and requested additional time to prepare one. Judge Connally ordered the board to submit a plan by June 1, 1960


Five Houstonians and two Houston area residents are among 34 killed in a mid-air explosion of a Braniff turboprop airliner over Buffalo, Texas

November 7

The tanker Amoco Virginia exploded in the ship channel when its aviation gasoline cargo ignited. The resulting fire took eight lives and threatened the vast oil refinery and chemical industry complex along the channel

December 19

The first Bluebonnet Bowl was played in Rice Institute Stadium

American Football League formed by Lamar Hunt (owner of the Kansas City Chiefs), K.S. "Bud Adams (owner of the Houston Oilers), and others


Houston's population of 938,219, nearly twice as many as the 596,163 counted in 1950, ranked it seventh in the nation. The city's metropolitan area included 1,243,158 people, making it the sixteenth largest. Houston grew seven times as fast as the average major city in the 1950s

Houston's port recorded 4,529 ship arrivals with a combined barge and ship freight tonnage of 57,132,659 tons

Houston remained primarily a commercial-distributive rather than a manufacturing center. Nationally, 27 percent of the labor force was involved in manufacturing, while the figure for Houston was 19.6 percent

Congress appropriated $19,000,000,000 to deepen the ship channel

A Civil Aeronautics Board examiner recommended Houston be placed on the proposed southern transcontinental route, thus giving the city direct jet service between Florida and California. The city purchased a 4,000-acre site for a new municipal airport

A committee set up by the mayor recommended zoning for the city


Roy Rogers and Dale Evens host the televised Chevy Show from the rodeo arena in Houston


Rice Institute became Rice University

May 4

Black students from Texas Southern University initiated the first sit-in in Texas, trying to force equal lunch counter service


Houstonians flood Washington with telegrams in a last minute attempt to save the homesite of Lorenzo de Zavala, a patriot of the Texas Revolution

August 4

District Court Judge Connally labeled the school board's desegregation plan a "palable sham and subterfuge." He ordered desegregation to commence in all first grades in September 1960 and to proceed at one grade per year thereafter

August 26

Houston was in the midst of a great building boom. To date for the year, the city had issued building permits worth $192,322,336, a jump of $50,000,000 over the same period for 1959

September 1

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Houston School Board's appeal to defer integration of public schools


Integration of first grades in Houston schools began with twelve black children attending "white schools," but it was occurring under restriction so limiting as to severely curtail black attendance in " white schools." For example, no black student could enter if the child had an older brother or sister in an all-black school. Thus, six years after the historic Supreme Court decision, only 12 out of the city's 46,000 black children enjoyed its benefits

The Houston International Airport is rendered inadequate

John F. Kennedy of Hyannisport, MA and Lyndon Baines Johnson of Johnson City, Texas, elected president and vice-president of the United States

A. J. Foyt of Houston wins the first of his seven U. S. Auto Club racing titles

Houston Oilers pro football team wins the first American Football League championship

Allen Drury of Houston awarded Pulitzer Prize for novel Advise and Consent

The census' decennial tally records 938,219 Houstonians, nearly twice as many as the 596,163 counted in 1950


The Hermann Park Zoo has acquired a rare spitting cobra named Marie who will grace the new $116,000 reptile house to be opened next month



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