Officials Celebrate The 100th Birthday Of The Houston Ship Channel

Nov. 10, 2014Houston Public Media

Cannon fire at the Turning Basin duplicated the original christening a hundred years ago by President Woodrow Wilson. He pushed a button from his office more than 1400 miles away which officially opened the 52 mile channel for operation.

It’s now the model used for other federal navigation projects.

Roger Gunther is executive director of the Port of Houston Authority. He says dredging and widening the ship channel was important to continue global commerce.

“I think we have to continue that visionary forward-thinking, to make sure that we capture the commerce for this region over the next century,” says Gunther.

A study found that ship channel-related business provides over one million jobs throughout Texas, generating more than 1.7 billion dollars in economic impact and 4.5 billion dollars in state and local taxes.

“The city of Houston was founded by two land speculators from New York,” says Janiece Longoria, chairman of the Port of Houston. “They had no idea that what they were creating, would eventually surpass their hometown of New York as the premier metropolitan export region in the nation.”

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says residents are aware that improvements to the Houston Ship Channel will help it play a major role in global commerce.

“If those bond issues hadn’t passed, it wouldn’t have been dredged to 45 feet. And so, the fact that the community embraces the port and the port embraces the community is what makes it work,” says Emmett.

More than 8,300 ships travel on the Houston Ship Channel, carrying more than 2 million containers a year.