“Allen’s Landing” is the place at the confluence of the White Oak Bayou and the Buffalo Bayou where John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapmen Allen purchased and settled in August 1836, forming the city of Houston. Allen’s Landing is sometimes called “Houston’s Plymouth Rock” and “Houston’s heart.”
Wikipedia: Allen’s Landing
Allen’s Landing is the birthplace of Houston, Texas. In August 1836, just months after the Republic of Texas won its independence from Mexico, two brothers (and real estate developers) from New York, John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, purchased 6,642 acres (27 km²) in the area and settled there on the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
Allen’s Landing is at the confluence of White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou and serves as a natural turning basin. A dock was quickly opened on the site, and the steamer Laura was the first ship to anchor at the landing on January 26, 1837. The landing was officially named a port in 1841—the original Port of Houston. In 1910, the United States government approved funding for the dredging of a ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico to the present turning basin four miles to the east of Allen’s Landing.
In the late 1960s, Allen’s Landing was home to the city’s premiere psychedelic nightclub, Love Street Light Circus Feel Good Machine (“Love Street”), where bands with names like Bubble Puppy, Neurotic Sheep and American Blues performed mind-expanding music accented with strobe lights and pastel projections. The historic Sunset Coffee Building on Commerce at Main Street, which housed the nightclub on its third floor, is still standing. Love Street’s last show was on June 6, 1970.
Once the focal point of downtown Houston, a small historical park was dedicated at the site in 1967. The Southern Pacific Railroad donated 4,000 square feet (400 m²) of land to the park project, which was to be developed and maintained by the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the City of Houston, and the Harris County Navigation District. In addition, a marker was placed at the park to indicate where, in 1837, townspeople erected a liberty pole to commemorate Sam Houston’s victory over Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto the previous year.
For a brief period in the 1990s, Allen’s Landing was once again the docking site for the Laura.
Handbook of Texas Online
ALLEN’S LANDING, TEXAS. Allen’s Landing is located at the site of the original city of Houston on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou and a fork of White Oak Bayou in central Harris County. The landing, at a natural turning basin, originally served as a boat dock for Houston real estate development at the “head of navigation” on Buffalo Bayou. Oceangoing ships, steamers, and sailing vessels loaded from its wharves, and the steamer Laura first docked there on January 26, 1837. The city of Houston officially established the port in June 1841, and in 1910 the federal government approved funding for the dredging of a ship channel from the Gulf to the present turning basin four miles to the east of Allen’s Landing. A historical marker was placed at the nearly two-acre parksite when it was dedicated as Allen’s Landing Memorial Park in 1967. The park serves as a memorial to Houston founders John K. and Augustus Chapman Allen. The Southern Pacific Railroad also donated 4,000 square feet of land to the park, which was developed by the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the City of Houston, and the Harris County Navigation District. In 1990 the landing was a dock for the Laura.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership
1001 Commerce Street
Acquired by City of Houston Parks & Recreation Department: 1966
Size: 1.76 acres
Often described as “Houston’s heart” and our “Plymouth Rock,” Allen’s Landing is an area that truly defines our city. It was here in 1836 that August C. and John K. Allen stepped ashore and claimed Houston as their own. The confluence of Buffalo and White Oak bayous also became Houston’s first port and a thriving commercial hub.
After years of deterioration and numerous planning efforts, Allen’s Landing is undergoing major revitalization and rejuvenation.
May 8, 2006
Wading in the shallow pool of history
So here’s a Houston quiz: Do you know what and where Allen’s Landing is?
Houstonist wagers most Houstonians don’t know what it is — or that, if they do, they’ve never been there. But the fact is, Allen’s Landing is Houston’s Plymouth Rock, the spot where those lovable real estate shysters Augustus and John Kirby Allen decided to build a town. Allen’s Landing sits at the confluence of Buffalo and White Oak bayous, which form a (cramped) natural turning basin that became Houston’s first port. Despite that, KHOU found you shouldn’t try to dock your boat there today — the water in the bayou at Allen’s Landing is as shallow as three-and-a-half feet in places.
The reason for the shallow water is tons of concrete beams dropped in Buffalo Bayou in the late ‘90s to keep Allen’s Landing from collapsing into the water. Some of the beams, called “rip rap,” have been removed, but there are enough in place that private boats sometimes scrape the concrete when trying to dock at Allen’s Landing. It’s prompted an investigation from Harris County: “That would sound unusual, as to what I would expect in this area,” Mike Talbott of the county flood control district said. “This is an authorized barge canal, really, back from the early 1900s and it should have more depth than that.”