The Port of Houston
Leading The Way
Texans have long had a reputation for bragging, but the spectacular growth and international importance of the Port of Houston is real. Houston's emergence as a major force in international trade is the result of several historic and fortuitous events that shaped the 20th century and changed the world we live in forever:
1863 - Sleepy, steamy Houston sees the first steamship on Buffalo Bayou.
1870 - The U.S. Congress makes Houston an official "Port of Entry". Harris County funds are allocated to dredge muddy, winding Buffalo Bayou. For the first time in U.S history, an engineering project of this kind matches federal funds with local funds. Work begins on a 50 mile channel to connect Houston with the Gulf of Mexico.
1910 - Thousands gather as Houston celebrates the opening of the Port.
The mayor's daughter scatters roses on the water. Pres. Woodrow Wilson presses a button in Washington, DC and signals the grand opening by firing a mortar.
1939-1945 - Oil eclipses coal as a source of power during WWII, and Texas has oil. The importance of Texas petroleum and petroleum by products continues to this day.
Containers are developed by the US military during WWII to expedite the delivery of supplies to the troops. Containerized goods are moved by rail, truck, and ship with shortened loading and off-loading times and greater safety.
1956 - The world's first commercial container ship, the Ideal X, delivers 58 containers to the Port of Houston.
1960's - Containerization of freight becomes the industry standard for shipping goods and the Port of Houston is ready to handle the load. Today's biggest ships hold almost 7000 containers.
2006 - The Port of Houston is:
- 6 th largest in the world
- 1 st in US in foreign tonnage
- 2nd in total tonnage
- Home to the world's 2nd largest petrochemical complex
- 2006 total tonnage totalled 40,352,707 (Includes Bayport)
Cutting edge port security includes a command center which coordinates between government agencies and 151 privately owned facilities at the port. All incoming freight is scanned as it passes through radiation detection gates. One in eight outgoing containers is scanned by gamma ray machines for bombs and explosives.
The Port of Houston leads the nation in environmental protection. It is the first US port to be certified as ISO14001.