What Houston looked like in the 1970s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

The 1970s were an important time of change and growth for Houston. The city’s economy grew a lot because of the energy industry. More people moved to Houston, and new cultural and social ways started to appear. During this decade, Houston became known as a major center for energy, facing both the good and bad sides of growing fast and having new ways of living.

The Oil Boom and How Houston Grew

In the 1970s, there were big problems with getting oil around the world, especially in 1973 and 1979. This made Houston very important for energy. The city’s money-making activities were mostly about oil and natural gas, and when the prices of these went up, Houston’s economy grew a lot. This attracted companies, business people, and workers, which created more jobs, made more people rich, and brought more money into the city. Houston became well-known for the oil business, with many big energy companies setting up there and becoming a place for dealing with money matters related to energy..

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During this time of making a lot of money from oil, Houston also worked on having different kinds of jobs and businesses. The Texas Medical Center grew a lot, making Houston famous for health care and research. The city also put money into technology and making things to make sure it wasn’t just relying on oil and gas.

Houston Gets Bigger and Builds More

In the 1970s, Houston grew rapidly. The city got bigger to make space for all the new people and companies. This growth was helped by building a lot of new things like highways and improving services for people. The opening of the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in 1969, which started working fully in the 1970s, made it easier to get to and from Houston and showed how important the city was becoming in the US and the world.

Problems with Growing So Fast

With all this growth and more industries, Houston faced some problems. There was pollution in the air and water because of all the chemical plants. The city got so big so fast that it caused problems like too much traffic, hard-to-manage growth, and a lot of pressure on the services for people living there. These problems made people think and talk about how to plan the city better and take care of the environment, which helped guide how Houston would grow in the future.

#1 Conrad N. Hilton College building construction, 1974.

#2 Lamar Fleming Building construction, Houston, 1970

#4 Weston A. Pettey Optometry Library interior, Houston, 1970.

#5 Judson Robinson, Jr. with men at Burger King site, 1970s

#6 Technological Institute of Saltillo, Mexico, 1970s

#8 Wood house on Andrews Street, Houston’s Fourth Ward, 1970s

#10 Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, 1970s

#11 Shamrock Hotel along Holcombe Blvd., Houston, 1970s

#14 Dedication Ceremony of Central Library, Houston, January 17, 1976.

#19 First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, with sign mentioning Bible Study and Pastor John R. Bisagno, 1970s

#20 First Gay Pride Parade on Westheimer, Houston, July 1, 1979.

#26 Lott’s Grill on S. Main Street in Houston, Texas, 1977

#27 Firestone Store at Milam & Webster Streets in Houston, Texas, 1977

#28 Firestone Store at Milam & Webster Streets in Houston, Texas, 1977

#29 Fire Department at Milam & McIhenny Streets in Houston, Texas, 1977

#30 Clara’s Beauty Salon on Jensen Drive in Houston, Texas, 1977

#37 Bruchstein’s Cabinet Factory in Houston, Texas, 1977

#38 Perfecto Cleaning & Dye Works in Houston, Texas, 1977

#41 Big City News at Milam & Bell Streets in Houston, Texas, 1977

#42 Big City News at Milam & Bell Streets in Houston, Texas, 1977

#44 Skyscrapers including the Tenneco Building rise above a downtown Houston parking lot, Texas, circa 1970.

#45 Main Street scene with cars and a bus in downtown Houston, featuring the Gulf Building, circa 1970.

#46 The Towers of the Penzoil Buildings in Houston, Texas, showcasing their solar-energy inclined roofs, 1970s.

#47 Crowd gathers at Manned Spacecraft Center to welcome home Apollo 13 astronauts with President Nixon honoring flight controllers.

#48 Cars caught in floodwaters at Weslayan & Bissonnet, Houston, Texas, 1970.

#49 A boy navigates floodwaters on his bicycle in Houston, Texas, 1970.

#50 Creedence Clearwater Revival performs at the Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, 1970.

#51 Emergency medical technicians demonstrate NASA’s Telecare medical kit in Houston, Texas, 1973.

#53 Construction of the Shell Information Center nears completion in Houston’s Plaza del Oro, 1976.

#54 Immigration officials supervise the return of illegal immigrants to Mexico from Houston, Texas, 1977.

#55 A Great Dane peers out from a car roof next to its owner in Houston, Texas, 1977.

#56 Preparation for a barbeque at a cattle ranch visited by Prince Charles in Houston, Texas, 1977.

#57 View of the Space Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 1979.

#59 Greenway Plaza framed by tree limbs in Houston, Texas, detailing the Greenway condominium development.

#60 Shell Oil Company renews its lease in One Shell Plaza, Houston, Texas, 1970s.

#62 Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs at the Battle of the Sexes Challenge Match at the Astrodome, Houston, 1973.

#64 President Gerald R. Ford’s campaign appearance in Houston, Texas, 1976.

#65 Performers including unicyclist King Charles at Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, Houston, 1975.

#66 Guests visit a cattle ranch in Houston, Texas, 1977, owned by Tobin and Anne Armstrong.

#67 Aerial view of the Charter International Oil Company at the Port of Houston, Texas, 1978.

#70 Hazardous industrial wastes stored in a swampy field near Ville Platte, Louisiana, trucked from the Houston-Beaumont area, June 1973.

#71 Bruchstein’s Cabinet Factory in Houston, Texas, 1977.

#74 Houston skyline viewed from outside the city, 1973.

#75 Big City News at Milam & Bell Streets in Houston, Texas, 1977.

#76 Traffic congestion at the intersection of Southwest Freeway and Loop 610 in Houston, 1973.

#77 Construction of a solid waste disposal settling tank on Simms Bayou in Houston, funded by federal EPA recommendation, 1973.

#78 Houston Ship Channel at dusk with downtown skyline in the background, 1973.

#79 Exxon Baltimore tanker in the Houston Ship Channel, highlighting Houston’s status as a major seaport, 1973.

#80 Armco Steel plant with the Houston Ship Channel in the background, 1973.

#81 Crowd crossing McKinney Street at Main Street in Houston, Texas, 1970s.

#83 Amtrak’s Lone Star en route from Chicago to Houston through downtown Oklahoma City, highlighting rail travel innovations, 1970s.

#85 Mission Control Center in Houston during the Apollo 13 mission, April 1970.

#86 Automobile junkyard with the Houston skyline in the background, 1973.

#87 Radio operator Brian Houston covers the Union Jack at sunset in H.M.S. Blake in Valletta, Malta, 1972.

#88 Popeye’s fried chicken store in Atascocita, Texas.

#89 Houston Lighting and Power Company on Galveston Bay, 1973.

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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