The city of Houston was planned in 1836, named after war hero Sam Houston. The nickname “Bayou City” comes from Houston’s location on the Buffalo Bayou, and is recorded in print from at least 1856. The Buffalo Bayou is now largely unrecognizable because of periodic enlargements of the Houston Ship Channel, but the nickname “Bayou City” is still sometimes used.
The nickname “Baghdad on the Bayou” is also sometimes used.
Wikipedia: Nicknames of Houston
Houston is known popularly as The Bayou City (and less frequently as “Baghdad on the Bayou”) because it is home to ten winding waterways that flow through the surrounding area. Buffalo Bayou is the main waterway flowing through the city and has a significant place in Texas history, not only due to the founding place of the City of Houston, but also because the final battle for Texas Independence was fought along its banks. Other major bayous in the city include White Oak Bayou, Brays Bayou and Sims Bayou.
Wikipedia: Buffalo Bayou
Buffalo Bayou is a main waterway flowing through Houston, Texas, USA. It begins on the west side of the city and flows east to the Houston Ship Channel. Along the way the bayou accents several major parks and numerous smaller neighborhood parks. The bayou is spring-fed and rises west of Houston near Katy, Texas.
The bayou has a significant place in Texas history, not only due to the founding place of the City of Houston, but also because the final battle for Texas Independence was fought along its banks where it merges with the San Jacinto River at the communities of Lynchburg and Harrisburg, near present day Deer Park, Texas.
The original Port of Houston was located at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou in downtown Houston near the University of Houston-Downtown campus. This area is called “Allen’s Landing” and is now a park. It is the birthplace of the City of Houston. Numerous historical sites, as well as ruins of old docks and facilities, can be seen along the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
Today, despite the urban environment, Buffalo Bayou and its parks remains the centerpiece for many festivals and gatherings in Houston throughout the year. It is also still very popular with canoe and kayak enthusiasts.
Handbook of Texas Online
HOUSTON SHIP CHANNEL. The Houston Ship Channel, one of the busiest waterways in the United States, achieved its earliest significance as a link between interior Texas and the sea. It traces its origin to early trade on Buffalo Bayou, which heads on the prairie thirty miles west of Houston in the extreme northeastern corner of Fort Bend County and runs southeast for fifty miles to the San Jacinto River and then into Galveston Bay. Recognizing the potential of the stream, the brothers John Kirby and Augustus Chapman Allenq laid out the town of Houston at the head of navigation on Buffalo Bayou in 1836. The first steamboat, the Laura, arrived there on January 22, 1837. As the waterway proved to be the only one in Texas that was dependably navigable, planters over a large area brought their cotton to Houston to be shipped by barge or riverboat to Galveston, the best natural port in Texas. At Galveston cargoes were transferred to seagoing vessels and thence to market. Goods destined for the interior came upstream, and visitors and immigrants made the route one of the most traveled in Texas in the prerailroad era. Even after railroads and later automobiles diverted traffic, the route remained an important transportation artery for bulky goods. Initially, citizens of Houston took responsibility for clearing and maintaining the winding route to the sea. The city fathers established the Port of Houston on January 29, 1842, and the following year the Congress of the Republic of Texas granted the city the right to remove obstructions and otherwise improve the bayou. After Texas entered the Union, free wharfage was given to boat owners who contracted to keep the channel clean.
Wikipedia: Houston Ship Channel
The Houston Ship Channel in Houston, Texas is part of the Port of Houston—one of the United States’s busiest sea ports. The channel is a conduit between the continental interior and the Gulf of Mexico for both petrochemical products and Midwestern grain. The original watercourse for the channel, Buffalo Bayou, has its headwaters 30 miles (48 km) to the west of the city of Houston. It has been used to move goods to the sea since at least 1836. The proximity to Texas oilfields led to the establishment of numerous petrochemical refineries along the waterway, such as the ExxonMobil Baytown installation on the eastern bank of the San Jacinto River.
24 May 1856, Texas State Gazette, pg. 2:
The Bayou City Advertiser, is the name of a neat and interesting sheet published by Messrs. Fairbairn and McLlalan, at Houston.
24 June 1857, Trinity (TX) Advocate, pg. 2:
We heartily endorse the above extract from our Bayou City contemporary.
(WorldCat library record)
Title: Houston, the Bayou City,
Author(s): McComb, David G.
Publication: Austin, University of Texas
The Way West:
True Stories of the American Frontier
edited by James A. Crutchfield
New York: Tor/Forge
The title, “The Bayou City,” adds a certain charm to Houston, even though Buffalo Bayou is unrecognizable now since it has become the Ship Channel, waterway to the largest inland port in the world.