Houston in 1873

Houston, Texas - population 9300

The story of Houston's growth is the story of rail meeting water, and here we see that story developing once again after the long war and reconstruction. 
The 1870 census found a population of 9300 souls. When this map was drawn three years later it was pushing 12,000, and would reach 16,513 by the time enumerators made the rounds again in 1880.Houston was growing! 
The image you are looking at here is a bird's eye view, also known as a perspective map. It was a cartographic technique developed in Europe during the Renaissance, and was the rage of late nineteenth century America. 
The artist first used plat maps and surveys to get the lay of the land. Then came the arduous task of walking every street, making sketches of the the buildings and landscape from various angles.Then he adjusted the perspective upward and compiled it all into a cohesive and accurate map of the town. People of the nineteenth century were enthralled. Can you blame them? 

You may be wondering why the view is looking South. That gives you insight into how people back then conceived of the city. 
Buffalo Bayou was the life of Houston. It was how people and goods arrived from the outside world. It was how Texas cotton made it's way to the great textile mills of the North and Europe. 
If you arrived on a steam packet, you would disembark at the foot of Main Street, you would climb the south bank and find the City of Houston spread out before you.

Here are 

Some Closer Looks 

Along with Some Historical Tidbits

That's the Old City Hall

It was located on Market Square. The ground floor was a farmer's market. People from all over the surrounding area went there to buy and sell. It burned down in 1901.

Allen's Landing - Where it all started

Disembark at Allen's Landing and climb the banks of the bayou. Now walk two blocks up Main Street and you will find the old City Hall and Market house. It's a hive of activity. 

Turn left and walk another two blocks. Now you are looking at the Harris County Courthouse. It had been unfinished when the Civil War began. During the war it was used as a munitions factory, employing over 200 women and children. The basement held POWs.  After the war the courthouse was completed and the square became a beautiful park with gas lights for night strolling. 

The large house on the corner just across from the courthouse was the home of William Marsh Rice, whose fortune built Rice University.

A Vanished Landscape

Downtown had many gullies. They were loved by adventurous children and cursed by inconvenienced adults. 

Heavy rain turned the dirt streets into mud knee deep in places. During dry spells the city paid old man Bissonnet to haul barrels of water up from the bayou and wet the streets in an effort to keep down the dust.

That graveyard down the slope off Bagby is the old Episcopal-Masonic Cemetery, which is now Sam Houston Park. The bodies were moved to Glenwood Cemetery in 1903, including that of Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of Texas.

See the house with the two story gallery up and slightly to the right of the cemetery? That's the Kellum-Noble house, right were it stands today. It's walls are built of bricks formed from Buffalo Bayou clay at Nathaniel Kellum's brickyard. 

Room to Grow

Caroline was still called Carolina in 1873 (My guess is it changed because nobody pronounced the last syllable when giving directions.) 

At Austin and Rusk is the Houston Academy, the city's first high school, built in 1857.

About this Limited Edition:

Physical Details

  • 30 by 24 inches 
  • Limited Edition of 254 Copies 
  • Each one is hand-numbered

  • This is a high quality fine-art print.The paper is acid free, cold press cotton watercolor with an elegant ever so lightly textured finish. This surface allows the inks to 'bite', reproducing the shading and tonality of the original map vividly, beautifully, and exactly.
  • The inks are guaranteed color-fast for 80 years, which means you won't need to lay out the extra money for UV glass. You can hang your map in direct sun and it will be just as bright when they are passed on to the next generation it is the day it ships.It's an instant heirloom. 
  • Get yours before they're gone...and get one to give to a friend. He'll owe you!


  • Shipping is $5 for this item. 
  • Typically ships within three business days.
  • Ships in a sturdy tube.

Houston in 1873