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TIMELINE 1960 - 1970


The Houston International Airport is rendered inadequate

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 home-site 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


The Port of Houston completed most of a $12,500,000 expansion program that included new docks and transit sheds, and an automatic bulk materials handling plant capable of processing, 1,000 tons of dry bulk an hour

The unprecedented construction boom continued at the rate of $377,000,000 worth of building a year. Included were $4,00,000,000 square feet of downtown office space

Construction proceeded on a $244,000,000 master highway program with the opening of several major interchanges

Houston's murder rate of 10. 9 per 100,000 was 2 1/2 times the national rate, and 3 1/2 times that of New York City


The new Business Technology Room of the Houston Public Library is formally dedicated

January 27

The City Hall cafeteria began serving blacks

February 4

The 32-story glass-and-marble First City National Building was opened


150 of the air-conditioned "Dreamliner" buses have been ordered by the Houston Transit Company

April 12

Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the 1st human in space, orbiting the Earth one time


The school board refused to rent space in a junior high school for an American Civil Liberties Union display, because the group's "feelings are not in keeping with the thinking of the people of Houston"

May 5

Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. becomes the first American in space with a 15-minute sub orbital flight

July 14

Robert Welch of the John Berch Society called Houston one of his two strongest cities


Hurricane "Carla" struck the Gulf Coast, bringing one of the most destructive storms in modern Houston history

September 19

James E. Webb of the National Aeronautics Space Administration announced that Houston had been chosen as the site of the new $60,000,000 Manned Spacecraft Center

A Civil Aeronautics Board issues rules that end the Dallas monopoly on east-west air routes

Construction begins on a new Houston Intercontinental Airport in northern Harris County


Lewis Cutrer is reelected Mayor after a runoff with Louis Welch


The Port of Houston recorded 4,276 ship arrivals with a combined barge and ship freight of 58,604,886 tons. The major exports by value were wheat, cotton, and construction and mining machinery

The Stanford Research Institute drafted a master plan for a downtown Civic Center which called for a $50,000,000 investment on a 147-acre site and completion by 1980

Houston had almost exactly the same population as Baltimore but 64 percent more automobiles

Work began on the $100,000,000 Intercontinental Airport

January 29

The 12-story World Trade Center was officially opened. The first of its kind in the United States, it was intended as a focal point for port activity with offices for consuls, exporters, and freight forwarders among others. The World Trade Club, the Houston World Trade Association and the Institute of International Education

January 31

U. S. Judge Joe Ingraham ordered desegregation of Sylvan Beach, a county park


The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo celebrates it 30th anniversary

February 20

Astronaut John Glen becomes the first American in orbit

April 10

Major League baseball arrived in Houston when the Colt .45s (Astros) played their first game

May 7

Mayor Cutrer ended discrimination in all city owned buildings


Houston endowment, Incorporated, offers the city $6,000,000 to build a new downtown center for the performing arts

July 1

The last member of the Manned Spacecraft team arrived in Houston, completing the transfer from Langley Field, Virginia

The building boom continued as building permits for January through August totaled $240,000,000


NASA initiated a "brainpower" exchange with local universities; professors began visiting the MSC labs, scientist and the classrooms


Houston's record breaking string of nine consecutive days of 100 degrees or over has ended

September 11

President John F. Kennedy inspected the MSC facilities and spoke at Rice Stadium

November 6

Houston remained the nation's only major unzoned city, as voters turned down another proposal in a referendum

December 28

The Federal Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned Houston's brother-sister rule, which prohibited registration by a black child in a "white school" if the child had an older brother or sister in an all-black school

The Rice Institute changes its name to Rice University

The Rice Institute begins admitting students of all races, introduces tuition fees, and for the 1st time becomes eligible to participate in federally funded programs

Houston becomes the center of the manned space explorations of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and receives the sobriquet "Space City"


A survey by Dr. Warren Rose revealed that the direct and secondary income impact accruing from all port-related activities amounted to $442,000,000, and that 11 percent of the city's labor force was employed as a direct or secondary result of port activities

The ship channel now represented a $2,550,000,000 investment and was served by six railroads, thirty-eight trucking lines, one hundred steamship lines, thirty-five freight forwarders, eight barge lines, and nineteen stevedore concerns

The 21-story 500 Jefferson Building , the 44-story Humble Building , and the 35-story Tennessee Building were among the ten new structures opened which increased office space by 41 percent

While the national ratio of wholesale to retail employees was 1:2.7, Houston's ratio was 1:1.5, stressing the city's role as a distribution center

The movement away from center city continued. In 1940, 70 percent of the doctors, 76 percent of the engineers, and 30 percent of the architects worked in the central business district. In 1963 the percentages were 14 percent for doctors, 24 percent for engineers, and 10 percent for architects

The new Ben Taub Hospital for city-county patients opened


Frank Atkin, a student at Jesse H. Jones Senior High School is sent home from school for wearing his hair in a duck tail


Houston's first major league baseball no-hitter is pitched by Don Nottebart of the Houston Colts against the Philadelphia Phils


Ollie Harris, a black, joined the school administration

The fifty-three year old City Auditorium is demolished to make way for the new Jesse H. Jones Hall. Demolition was slow, because the building had been so well constructed.


NASA was spending $1,000,000 a month on contracts with about 500 local firms for various services

August 7

A 353-day strike against the Shell Oil Company refinery and chemical plant ended


Houston has not had a single case of polio reported in 1963


Rice University became the first U.S. university to establish a Department of Space Science

The school board reaffirmed a decision to bar black children from kindergarten

September 1

The University of Houston became a state funded school under a nine-man board appointed by the governor

September 16

Houston Baptist College admitted its first class


Bill F. Elliot became the first Republican elected to the city council since Reconstruction

Councilman Louis Welch wins the Mayor's post in Houston, gaining 44,950 votes, nearly 16,000 votes more than his nearest opponent. He will remain Mayor until 1974

November 19

University of Houston made blacks eligible for intercollegiate athletic programs

November 21

President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy had a private dinner in the International Suite at the Rice Rittenhouse Hotel. It was Kennedy's last supper

December 27

Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of West Germany was made an honorary citizen and given the key to the city

The completion of several large buildings downtown, increases office space in the city by 40 percent and foremost among these is the Cullen Center


Louie Welch takes office as mayor of Houston

Houston Port was the nation's third largest, moving 59,152,653 tons of freight and recording 4,257 ship arrivals

There were 587,000 registered automobiles in Harris County because 95 percent of Houston's residents depended upon private auto transportation

January 27

Carolyn White became the first black employed at City Hall

January 28

The city dropped the item of race designation on job applications

February 4

The Humble Oil Company announced plans for a $900,000,000, 7,250-acre industrial complex at Bayport

The Houston Port Commissioners announced plans to build a $13,400,000 port and ship channel to serve the planned Humble industrial complex

March 3

The Houston Symphony under Sir John Barbirolli was well received by the audience and critics after a performance at Philharmonic Hall in New York

March 9

The Rice University trustees won a court fight to alter the trust instrument drawn by the institution's founder so as to permit the entrance of non-white students


Tornado-like winds sweep across Harris County causing death and destruction


An encephalitis epidemic resulted in 18 deaths and 179 suspected cases by the end of August. As a result, in November the voters approved the creation of a county-wide mosquito control district with a tax levy to support it


NASA completed its move into the Clear Lake facilities


Candace Mossler inherits the bulk of her husband's $15,000,000 estate


Seven hundred black students integrated the public schools


Several members of the Houston Police have been discovered to be John Birchers

November 10

The fiftieth anniversary of the "Deep Water" port was celebrated with a telephone message from President Johnson which set off a charge to break ground for three new piers


Voters approved an arrangement with the Trinity River Authority for the construction and operation of water-gathering and storage facilities, which would supply adequate water for industrial use in the future


Reapportionment left Houston with a third congressional seat, three new senators, and seven new representatives to the state legislature

Harris County employment stood at 600,000 with wages and salaries totaling $3,300,000,000


Houston is going to have to build some new roads out to the new Supersonic Airport because it is virtually isolated due to access road shortage

April 9

The First Major League baseball game was played in the Harris County domed stadium, the Astrodome. Built at a cost of over $45,000,000, it is 710 feet in diameter, 218 feet high, and totally air conditioned


85 percent of the black students boycott five black high schools to protest the slow pace of integration in Houston

May 10

Nine hundred black students, led by the NAACP, boycotted high schools in a bid to speed up integration

May 15

Blacks, led by Rev. W. A. Lawson, pressed for public school integration and rallied to protest a projected bond issue which, in effect, would have financed segregated facilities

May 20

Voters approved a school bond issue which would essentially finance segregated school facilities despite black opposition

June 21

After a Justice Department warning, the school board voted four to three to integrate all grades by 1967 and seek federal aid for Houston's schools


The Bureau of Census redefined Houston's metropolitan area to include Brazoria, Fort Bend, Liberty, and Montgomery counties along with Harris County. An area of 359.7 square miles, with a population of 1,695,000 was added to the metropolitan district


The first football game played in the Harris County Domed Stadium ends with Tulsa beating U. of H. 14 - 0

November 12

Four hundred students from Texas Southern University rioted on Wheeler Avenue after a pep rally

November 20

After four previous rejections and amidst considerable excitement, voters approved the creation of a hospital district with taxing powers as a means of financing public hospitals


The Houston Chronicle, the city's evening paper, was sold by the Houston Endowment, Inc. to John Mecom in an $85,000,000 deal that also involved the Rice Hotel and other downtown properties

The first enclosed sports stadium in the world, the Harris County Domed Stadium, or the Astrodome, opens 7 miles southwest of downtown and is immediately claimed by Houstonians to be the "Eighth Wonder of the World"


After five years, MSC was employing 4,854 people with a payroll of $50,000,000, and 125 companies had established offices in Houston to deal with the center

George Bush won the right to represent the mostly republican 7th District

Developer Gerald Hines and Shell Oil announced plans for a new building for Shell. The original plan called for 47 stories but the builders went on up to 50 and One Shell Plaza was the tallest building in town, briefly

The National football League agreed to absorb the American Football League and call it the American Conference of the NFL. The AFL clubs agreed to pay $18 million for this favor. John Hollis of the Houston Post wrote that it might have been the highest price ever paid for a burial service

The massive Texas Medical Center now represented as investment of almost $125,000,000; it included the Texas Dental School, Baylor Medical School, Arabia Temple Crippled Children's Clinic, Hermann Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Texas Children's Hospital, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Jesse H. Jones Medical Library, Ben Taub Hospital, and the University of Houston College of Nursing

The International Association of Chiefs of Police suggested that a community Houston's size should employ 2,600 policemen. Houston employed 1,342

Will Clayton died at the age of 86

The city's transit system was bought by National City Lines of Florida

Two hundred and four people were murdered in Houston, fifty-eight more than in all England during 1965

A Houston-Harris County Economic Opportunity Organization study of the Settegast slum, housing 7,000 people in 1,545 homes, revealed open sewage ditches, 30 percent of the housing in disrepair, no city water, three times as many rats as people, 25 percent of the houses using outhouses, and one-third of the wells polluted

Chemicals were Houston's fastest growing industry over the previous decade. The industry represented an investment approaching $5,000,000,000, employed 47,000 people, and produced 50 percent of the materials for plastics and synthetic rubber made in the United States

Houston continued to lag as a cultural center, spending $1.27 per capita on its Public Library as compared to $2.79 per capita for Dallas

Allen's Landing Park was created to revitalize and beautify the Bayou area

January 30

Voters approved a $136,800,000 combined Houston-Harris County bond issue for capital improvements


Congressman Albert Thomas died

The city started work on a new convention center to be named for Albert Thomas


Mrs. Albert Thomas has been elected to succeed her husband in a special election for the 8th Congressional District


Houston's Westbury American All-Stars have won the right to play in the 1966 Little League World Series

June 4

Parents of black children brought suit against the school board charging that it was minimizing integration by expanding overcrowded school facilities in black sections. The Justice Department sent three attorneys to monitor proceedings


Andre Previn has been named conductor-in-chief of the Houston Symphony

September 19

After strong pressure from conservative elements and from a lawyer's group, the Houston Legal Foundation, an agency of the Economic Opportunity Office, dropped its efforts to help a black mother enroll her son in a segregated ninth grade undergoing gradual integration

Houston attorney and legislator Bob Exhort won the election to the District 8 seat that had been occupied by Lera Thomas after Albert Thomas' death

October 3

The magnificent Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts was opened. Built at a cost of over $7,000,000, it was a gift to the city from the Houston Endowment, Inc., a creation of Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones. It was the new home of the Houston Symphony, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Houston Ballet

November 8

Houstonians (Harris County) elected their first black state senator, Miss Barbara Jordan, and their first Republican state senator, Henry Grover

December 28

In a letter to the school board president, the assistant United States attorney charged that Houston had failed to implement its announced desegregation plan

Longtime Houston doyenne, Miss Ima Hogg, donates her family's mansion, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts

The Astrohall opens


The Civic Center represented the only instances where the municipal government had supported urban renewal on a large scale. It now contained the Public Library, City Hall, the Federal Office Building, Jones Hall, the Coliseum, the Music Hall, and the Convention and Exhibit Center

Air pollution provoked a showdown between the Houston City Hall and the ship channel industries

The Houston Housing Authority operated only 2,500 unites, while 21,000 families lived in substandard housing

WKY Television System of Oklahoma bought Houston's original Ultra High Frequency TV license and put Channel 39 back on the air as KHTV. The name of WKY Television Systems was later changed to Gaylord Broadcasting. Channel 39 was licensed originally to the owners of KNUZ Radio

Major crimes were up 7 percent over 1966, and Houston ranked fourth in the nation in murder rate

Phillip Battlestein's heirs sold the Battlestein stores to the Manhattan shirt people. The new owners bought Frost Brothers of San Antonio in 1969. The two chains later merged under the Frost name and then closed in 1989


Dr. Joseph Melnick of the Baylor Medical School discovered that Buffalo Bayou contained a whole range of viruses, including those causing encephalitis and meningitis. He estimated that at the foot of Main Street the Bayou carried sufficient viruses to infect 77,000 people an hour!

Bacon is selling for $.59 per pound and lean ground beef for $.49 per pound

January 27

Tragedy strikes the U.S. moon effort as Apollo astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perish in a launch-pad fire during a countdown rehearsal

February 21

The city offered the Republican Party $650,000 to hold its 1968 convention in Houston

April 4

Five hundred students, mostly form Texas Southern University, marched on the courthouse to protest the arrest of two student leaders after the ouster from campus of the Friends of SNCC

May 17

Two days of rioting at Texas Southern University left one policeman dead and two others and a student with gunshot wounds. Nearly 500 students were arrested, and five were indicted in connection with the policeman's death


A commissioner of the Federal Water Control Administration declared that on any given day the ship channel might be the most badly polluted body of water in the entire world

Star Trek is shown on Thursdays at 7:30 pm on Channel 2

August 16

Gunfire erupted and fire bombs exploded in a black middle class section after police reported that a white service station attendant had shot a black who tried to rob him


Lili Milani is chosen Homecoming Queen at Rice University

November 1

Senator McClellan's Permanent Subcommittee opened hearings on the May disorders in Houston, during which Mayor Welch and other officials testified that the disturbances were the work of SNCC

The original Houston International Airport is renamed the William P. Hobby Airport, to honor the former governor, publisher and philanthropist

Construction begins downtown on One Shell Plaza, which at 50 stories, is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River


Houston's independent School District relented after almost twenty years and began participating in the federal-aid-for-lunches program

The Navigation District proposed to deepen the channel to 50 feet

April 4

A store in the black section was firebombed


Mayor Louie Welch orders an audit of the 100 top personal property taxpayers in the city and the Houston Independent School District


Roy Hofheinz opened the 116-acre Astroworld Park and also the hotels in what Hofheinz was by this time calling the Astrodomain, near the Astrodome


Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey stump in Houston

October 13

The new Alley Theatre was dedicated, providing a new home for the city's most significant theatrical enterprise

December 21

Americans Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders head for a Christmas Eve orbit of the moon in their Apollo capsule

December 21

A Houston Chronicle survey of public school integration revealed that 37,493 of 81,481 black students were attending classes integrated to some extent


For the first time, the National Association of Homebuilders held its convention in the Astrodome complex. It was the biggest convention yet for Houston and another triumph for Roy Hofheinz

Shell announced that it would move a substantial part of its headquarters operation from New York to new Shell buildings in Houston


Agnes Jean Harmon took an ice pack and for the 2nd time in a year sliced a Frederick Remington painting valued at $30,000 in the Museum of Fine Arts

February 11

The Justice Department filed a motion in Federal District Court charging the Houston Independent School District with maintaining segregated school facilities. The court was asked to vote the freedom-of-choice plan before September 1969

March 17

Black and white University of Houston students clashed briefly after a representative of the Afro-Americans for Black Liberation charged that three white students attacked him

March 20

University of Houston officials announced they would file charges against former Columbia University student leader Mark Rudd for speaking on campus without permission


Judge Roy Hofheinz and his longtime executive secretary, Mary Frances Gougenheim are married


Houston's Intercontinental Airport was opened

June 21

A group, including Senator Yarbrough, visited a barrio to investigate living conditions for Mexican-Americans. Despite a last-minute cleanup by the city, the poor conditions of the area were evident

July 20

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon

July 23

The Federal District Court ruled that Houston could keep its freedom-of-choice desegregation program for the 1969-1970 school year, but that it would have to develop either a zoning or pairing program for the 1970-1971 year


Socialite Joan Robinson Hill dies of meningitis according to a second autopsy by a group of pathologists headed by Dr. Milton Helpern

November 15

Mayor Welch was reelected with 52 percent of the vote. His major opposition was supplied by Representative Graves, a black, who won 32 percent of the vote

A hotly contested election produced a new and more liberal majority on the school board

November 16

Mayor Welch announced he would urge the city council to adopt a minimum housing code to improve ghetto housing. The voters had approved a proposition for such a code


Houston's population stood at 1,213,064, which was an increase of 29.3 percent over 1960. The population figure for the five-county metropolitan area was 1,958,491, an increase of 38.1 percent over 1960

Houston recorded 287 murders

Over 8,500,000 square feet of floor space was either under construction or projected, not including two announced redevelopment projects

Rothko Chapel was opened as an ecumenical chapel to house the last great works of Mark Rothko


Arman Yramategui, conservationist and head of the Burke Baker Planetarium, is shot to death

January 18

After a federal pollution panel inspected the ship channel, one of its members termed the waters "too thick to drink and too thin to plow"

February 28

The school board voted four to three to institute voluntary integration measures which would meet federal court recommendations. Angry parents formed two organizations to oppose the board's action, and economic reprisals were taken against board members Drs. Robbins and Oser

April 17

Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise return safely days after an explosion 200,000 miles from Earth crippled their spacecraft and nearly cost them their lives

April 25

The Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation announced the purchase of the major portion of thirty-two city blocks in the downtown area for over $55,000,000. The corporation planned to spend about $1.5 billion to develop the area

June 1

The Federal District Court ordered Houston to drop its freedom-of-choice integration plan and adopt a zoning system. Complete faculty integration was ordered as well


One Shell Plaza, the tallest building in Houston, is opened

July 11

President Richard M. Nixon proposed to Congress a sophisticated traffic control system for the ship channel, which had an average of three to four minor collisions a month

July 19

The Justice Department asked the U.S. Appeals Court to order Houston to pair and group 101 schools to achieve greater desegregation

July 26

One white SDS member and three blacks were wounded in a gun battle with police after a rally by People's Party 2, a Black Panther-like organization. Party Chairman C. Hampton died of his wounds the following day


Houston received a Model Cities grant of $13 million for the first five years of the Model Cities program

August 7

The Justice Department filed suit against the state education agency, the State Education Commissioner, and twenty-six school districts including Houston's, charging that they were continuing to operate segregated facilities. The suit contended that segregation involved Mexican-Americans as well as blacks

August 8

The Navigation District announced plans to build at Morgan's Point a new container port and turning basin which could accommodate ships of 800 feet or larger

September 5

Mexican-Americans opened a boycott of Houston's public schools and set up all-Mexican-American "hulga" schools. They demanded to be treated as a separate ethnic minority with special problems and not to be grouped with blacks or any other group

September 23

The grand jury cleared the police in the shooting death of C. Hampton, chairman of People's Party 2

October 4

Death of singer Janis Joplin of Port Arthur

November 2

A coalition of twelve liberal and radical groups accused the Houston Police Department of shielding two "night rider" members of the Ku Klux Klan who allegedly committed acts of terrorism and vandalism

The Texas legislature legalizes the sale of liquor by the drink



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