Seaport Giant: 1914 & Forward

Seaport Giant Newsclipping

Finally, in 1914, the Port of Houston opened officially and regular steamship service up and down the ship channel commenced.

Just one year prior, in 1913, members of the Houston Yacht Club led a naval parade, which included state and federal government parties, celebrating the opening of the local portion of the Intracoastal Waterway. The stage was set for increasing opportunities in business and pleasure along the area waterways.

Houston Post Article on 50th Annicersary of the Houston Ship Channel

The celebrations in 1914 surrounding the Port’s grand opening reflected the Club’s long-standing goals and desires dating to its founding in 1897. In addition, the festivites reflected the excitement in Houston's business community, which made up a large percentage of the Houston Yacht Club.

Partly because they shared the same territory, the Houston Yacht Club greatly championed the Port’s expansion. Many of the Club’s officers endorsed the deep-water movement as a way to highlight Houston’s capability and serious intent to be a significant port city.  According to historian Dora F. Akkerman, “The leaders [of the Club] had strived to promote Houston both as a deep-water port and as recreational boating and yacht racing center.”

Port of Houston Adertisement, 1933

Houston quickly became the nation’s second-largest seaport as well as the leading cotton port by the 1920s.

The rise of Houston was not only a reflection of its increasing economic importance, but also a viewpoint of the fall of other southern ports, namely Galveston and New Orleans. By 1925, as part of the port’s expansion, the Houston Ship Channel had been dredged to a depth of 30 feet.

Map of Houston Ship Channel from Turning Basin to Main Street

In July 1927, the Texas Legislature authorized The Port of Houston Authority to act as an autonomous governmental entity.

Concurrently that year, the Houston Yacht Club moved into the new clubhouse on Galveston Bay, at Shoreacres, in part, at least, to get away from the rapidly developing and industrializing Houston Ship Channel.

The exponetial growth of a petroluem industry throughout the Texas Gulf Coast led rapidly to the industrialization of the waterfront.

Harris County Auditor's Report for 1928

Business boomed and the Port of Houston went on to become a true international shipping giant, which it remains to this day.

As of 2011, "the port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage (14 consecutive years); first in U.S. imports (19 consecutive years); second in U.S. export tonnage and second in the U.S. in total tonnage (19 consecutive years)." (Source: Port of Houston Authority website, here, accessed June 17, 2020).