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Houston City Hall

The headquarters of the municipal government of the City of Houston is housed in the Houston City Hall building. Constructed between 1938 and 1939, this complex is situated on Bagby Street in the western side of Downtown Houston. Surrounded by the Houston Skyline District, the City Hall shares its vicinity with Tranquility Park and the Houston Public Library. The architectural style of the building is reminiscent of many other city halls constructed in the southwestern United States during the same period, showcasing its classic design and construction details.

Previously, from 1841 to 1939, Houston’s municipal government was based in Old Market Square. However, due to fire incidents in the 1870s and 1901, the City Hall and Market House located on Travis Street had to be rebuilt multiple times. By the 1920s, city leaders recognized that the location was no longer suitable for their needs and began planning for a new civic center around Herman Square, a downtown park. However, the Great Depression disrupted these plans. It was not until the implementation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration program that the city secured a grant to fund the construction of a new City Hall. Construction commenced in March 1938 and lasted for 20 months.

The design of the City Hall building was the work of Joseph Finger, who adopted a stripped classical style. Although Finger originally intended to place statues of John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen on the front terrace, the city lacked the funds to realize this plan due to the financial strain caused by the Great Depression. It was only brought to public attention in 2010 when the Texas Star Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas discovered the project’s cancellation. Eventually, the Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440, UDC, raised the necessary funds to commission and cast bronze statues of the Allen Brothers.

In a notable event, on July 15, 2008, the renowned surgeon Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, who had passed away, was laid in repose at Houston City Hall. This marked the first time such an honor was bestowed upon a deceased resident of the city, paying tribute to his contributions and legacy.

The Houston City Hall building stands as an important symbol of the city’s governance and history, serving as a significant landmark in the downtown area.

Raul Sanchez
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