Houston was named for Texan revolutionary General Sam Houston who was the President of the Republic of Texas and the governor of Texas after it became a State. The city is located near where the Battle of San Jacinto took place on April 21, 1836, the battle where Houston finally defeated Santa Anna and the Mexican army in the Texan War of Independence. The Allen brothers, John and Augustus, founded the city on August 30, 1836 and employed surveyors to layout the streets and plots for the town. The next year, Houston became the capital of the Republic of Texas.
The town grew up from nothing very quickly. When Sam Houston first moved to his namesake the population was less than 20. Two months later there were more than 400 citizens. In its early days, Houston was a pretty ruff place to say the least. Shooting and stabbings were quite common, not only in the streets but the in sessions of the Congress alike. Other problems, such as epidemics of cholera and yellow fever, pledged the township and though the populace continued to grow, living conditions were pore and commerce was stagnant.
Because of these problems, in 1839, the capital was moved from Houston to Austin. Over the next few years, Houston had a very real possibility of becoming a ghost town. Though, through some forward thinking and the foundation of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, which helped with loans and cooperation amongst merchants, the town was spared from this fait.
In 1850 there were 2400 Houstonians and they were now United States citizen as well as being Texans. In this following decade Houston started to look more like a modern city than a frontier settlement. Railroads and telegraph wires were laid to help commerce at the Port of Houston. The port soon became a nexus for shipping cotton in the southwest. Also industry began to operate, which included a large iron foundry. By 1860 Houston's citizenry had doubled to 4800 and the people found themselves under the flag of the Confederacy. Though no battles were fought near Houston, they did help their fellow secessionists with supplies for the war effort.
By the turn of the century Houston had become prosperous city of 45,000. The migration west with the California Gold Rush and the settling of the Oregon Country aided in Houston's development. But nothing in its past had the kind of affect that the came with the discovery of oil on Houston's outskirts in 1901. The development of oil fields coincided with the rise in popularity of the automobile and the start of World War I; the Port of Houston has gone on to become one of the largest oil exporters in the United States. By 1920, Houston had grown immensely to 138,000 people.
Through the early-mid 20th century Houston continued to grow towards a city of a million people. It finally reached that mark in 1961, just as its second large growth spurt was about to begin with the development of the aerospace industry. When the President said "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth" the Vice President, who chaired the National Space Council, wanted his old home town to be the place to do it. So Houston was selected for NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center and Mission Control (later renamed the Johnson Space Center). New residents to the city included the Original Seven astronauts amongst droves of other federal government employees. From this Houston got the nickname Space City, U.S.A.
Today Houston has a population of two million and is the forth most populous city in the United States being only smaller than Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. The Houston-Galveston-Brazoria Metropolitan Area has nearly five million people and is the 10th most populous conurbation in the United States. It has two major airports, Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby, which cater to 38 million passengers every year. Houston has quite a few professional sports franchises; the Aeros (ice hockey), the Astros (baseball), the Comets (women's basketball), the Rockets (men's basketball) and the Texans (American football). The Astros play, of course, in the Astrodome, a gigantic indoor sports stadium and the first of its kind ever built. Nearby are Houston's theme parks, Six Flags AstroWorld and WaterWorld. Houston also hosts the largest rodeo in the world, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.