Houston's growth not tied to multiculturalism

Kevin Williamson has a good piece on the city of Houston and its diversity.  Houston has always had a welcoming attitude that predates the current diversity claims.  William Marsh Rice was a New York investor who first tried to establish a business in Galveston, which at the time was a larger city.  Galveston had and to some extent still, has a BOI (born on the island) attitude when it comes to acceptance.  Rice moved to Houston and prospered there.

At the time Houston was already becoming a railroad powerhouse and many of the top lawyers worked for them before the oil business came along.  One of those lawyers had worked on Rice's will and when he died was suspicious of the circumstances.
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In 1896, Captain Baker, personal attorney for Texas millionaire William Marsh Rice (Rice had become a client of Peter Gray in the 1850s), drew up a new will for Rice and was the will's executor. In 1900, Rice was poisoned in his bed by his valet, Charles F. Jones, and his New York City lawyer, Albert T. Patrick—a sensational crime that made national headlines. Captain Baker was a key witness and helped investigate the murder after Patrick produced a will that gave him control of five million dollars in 1904. Baker got the will he drew up entered as evidence in the case, and it was subsequently proved that Patrick had forged Rice's signature on the will he submitted. The case was not settled until 1910, and by that time the estate had grown to almost 10 million dollars. When the intent of Rice's will was finally executed, it led to the establishment of the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Art, and Science, which is now called Rice University.[6] Captain Baker was the first chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees. Rice University has maintained ties to Baker Botts since that time.
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The rail lawyers expanded into oil and gas lawyers and the Texas Railroad Commission also started regulating the oil business.  This was one of the reasons Houston became a major oil town.  Another reason was because it was less susceptible to the kind of institutional corruption that plagued New Orleans, which was also vying for that leadership.

Williamson's piece also mentions the lack of zoning in Houston.  I believe is a major factor in creating affordable housing and allowing neighborhoods to turn over rather quickly in a dynamic way that also allowed growth.  Another factor in the growth of the city was the concept of "extra-territorial-jurisdiction."  This allowed the city to annex areas within around five miles of its current city limits.  Houston then engaged in strip annexations down the middle of freeways leading into the city.  Developers who wanted to build housing in the "ETJ" had to comply with city requirements.  But those developments also had the benefit of later being annexed and the city assuming the tax-exempt bond obligations.  This actually made the financing more attractive which led to better rates.

It is another reason housing is more affordable in the Houston area.

I also agree with Williamson's comments on Hispanics in Houston and in Texas in general.  One thing that is rarely mentioned is the fact that many of those Hispanic families actually fought in the Texas revolution against Santa Anna's Mexican army.  Several Texas towns are named for them including Bastrop and Sequin.

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