While there has been trading along the gulf coast of Texas as long as anyone can remember, the official Port of Houston didn’t exist until the 20th century, making it one of the youngest ports in the world. Port of Houston would have never existed at all if it weren’t for Mother Nature.
In 1900, a massive hurricane hit the coast, becoming one of the worst natural disasters in American history. This convinced residents of Houston of the need for a deep-water port and President Woodrow Wilson officially opened the port to traffic as the World Port of Houston and Buffalo Bayou on November 10, 1914.
Port Houston was the first port to be built with federal funds and local matching funds, creating the requirement that every port in the United States since 1930 has had to meet. It was also the first port in the United States to see the first direct shipment of cotton to Europe and was the first port to meet ISO 14001 standards for environmental excellence, and the first port to be recertified to ISO 14001 standards.
Today, Port Houston is the busiest United States port regarding foreign tonnage and the second busiest port overall. It is a massive contributor to the Texas economy, with it providing over 1 million jobs in 2014 and having a statewide economic impact of $264.9 billion dollars. From Port Houston’s website:
Port Houston’s economic activity helps keep Texas the nation’s top exporting state. For the past 13 consecutive years, Texas has outpaced the rest of the country in exports. In 2014, Texas exports totaled more than $289 billion, up from nearly $280 billion in 2013, according to annual trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The state’s exports outperformed overall U.S. exports, which only grew by 2.4 percent to $1.62 trillion in 2014 from $1.58 trillion in 2013.
Port Story is a new series detailing the history and operations of trade ports across the United States and the world. Want to see a port that interests you? Let us know in the comments below, or check out our last installment in the series.