by James Glassman
TODAY IN HOUSTON HISTORY
(Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019)
Reviewed by Dr.
November 5, 2020
a fun way to learn the history of Harris
County and greater Houston!
A fifth-generation Houstonian, architect James Glassman, founder of
Houstorian, a "history advocacy group…dedicated to telling the story
of Houston," returns with another excellent volume examining the rich
and varied past of the state's largest city. I reviewed Glassman's
first book, THE HOUSTORIAN DICTIONARY:
AN INSIDER'S INDEX TO HOUSTON, also published by the History Press,
for this website in December 2016. Both books belong in the collection
of any reader interested in the fascinating history of the Bayou City
and its environs.
In his latest study, Glassman takes each day of the year, from January
1 to December 31, and focuses on one significant event that occurred
on that particular day. These events cover the entirety of Texas history,
from the Spanish period to today. To provide insight into what THE
HOUSTORIAN CALENDAR offers, consider the following dozen dates.
10, 1901: An incredible oil gusher came in at Spindletop,
which "produced 100,000 barrels per day and made Texas the major player
in the modern petroleum industry…Houston would not be the Energy Capital
of the World without the huge strike at Spindletop."
February 18, 1910: French
pilot Louis Paulhan, flying a Farman Biplane, "made the first recorded
flight" in Texas. More than 2,500 Houstonians saw this pioneering
March 14, 1816: William
Marsh Rice, founder of Rice University, was born in Springfield,
Massachusetts. The "Houston industrialist…made a fortune investing
in real estate, railroads, lumber and cotton."
April 9, 1965: The Astrodome, "Houston's signature landmark,"
opened, hosting an exhibition baseball game between the Astros and
New York Yankees. Among those who witnessed the contest in the amazing
new structure were President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady
Bird. The Astrodome, of course, became known as the "Eighth Wonder
of the World."
May 1, 1969: Noted film director Wes Anderson was born in Houston.
A graduate of Houston's St. John's School, he went on to make such
"inventive" pictures as RUSHMORE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, FANTASTIC
MR. FOX, MOONRISE KINGDOM, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, ISLE OF DOGS,
and the forthcoming THE FRENCH DISPATCH.
June 6, 1980: The iconic movie URBAN COWBOY, starring John
Travolta and Debra Winger, opened in theaters. Filmed in Houston
much of the picture took place at Gilley's, the "World's Largest Nightclub,"
home to the "famous mechanical bull." Within weeks, "western wear
became the go-to fashion for nightlife creatures burned out on glittery
disco." The soundtrack also became a smash. Who can ever forget Johnny
Lee's "Lookin' for Love"?
July 12, 1976: Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, born in Houston
in 1936, delivered the landmark "keynote address at the Democratic
National Convention, the first African American to do so." The Convention
was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
August 15, 1838: On this date, land speculator John Kirby Allen,
co-founder of Houston, died of yellow fever.
September 2, 1946: Popular musician Billy Preston was born
in Houston. Over the course of his career, Preston played with such
musical giants as Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Ray Charles, the Beatles,
and the Rolling Stones. He also sang the 1970s hits "Will It Go Round
in Circles" and "Nothing from Nothing."
October 8, 1915: The first Southwest Conference football game
was played. The Baylor Bears defeated the Rice Owls, 26-0, in Houston.
November 6, 1528: Shipwrecked Spanish
explorer Cabeza de Vaca, "the first European to visit" what became
present-day Houston, landed somewhere near, or perhaps on, Galveston
Island. On foot, De Vaca traveled across much of the state, eventually
making his way back to Spanish civilization. In 1542, he published
an account of his time in Texas, which has become a valuable primary
source for researchers and educators.
December 12, 2009: Houston native and Rice graduate Annise
Parker was elected mayor, becoming "the first openly gay mayor of
a major U.S. city." Moreover, Parker is the only person in Houston's
history "to hold the offices of council member, controller and mayor."