The community is located east of downtown Houston, south of the Brays Bayou and Buffalo Bayou junction, and west of Brady's Island. It was founded before 1825 on the eastern stretches of the Buffalo Bayou in present-day Harris County, Texas, on land belonging to John Richardson Harris. In 1926, Harrisburg was annexed into the city of Houston. The original name of Harris County was Harrisburg (Harrisburgh) County until it was shortened after the demise of the City of Harrisburg.
Harrisburg was surveyed in 1826 and formally named Harrisburg by its founder, John Richardson Harris. Harris named the town both after himself and after Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which had been named for his great-grandfather.
John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen wanted to establish a new town upstream from Galveston Bay. The location of Harrisburg, which had been platted by Harris in 1826, was the Allen brothers' first choice. They could not buy Harrisburg since Harris was dead, and no clear title to the land existed. The brothers founded the city of Houston in an area which was their second choice.
In 1835, the General Council of Texas, a provisional government of Texas, made Harrisburg its capital. On April 16, 1836, during the Texas Revolution, almost all of Harrisburg was burned by the forces of Antonio López de Santa Anna. After the Texas Revolution ended, the city of Houston was founded just west of Harrisburg and was named county seat of Harrisburg (later shortened to Harris) County and capital of the Republic of Texas.
After Texas Annexation
In 1851, the chief engineer of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railway (B.B.B. & C.), surveyed the route between Harrisburg and the Brazos River. It began operations on January 1, 1853. Harrisburg was the starting point of the line, the first functioning railroad line in the state.
After the Civil War, the railroad expanded and changed its name to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway. Harrisburg remained an important rail town until a fire in the 1870s destroyed the rail yards, which were rebuilt in Houston.
The population of Harrisburg dwindled with the loss of the railroads and with the widening of the Houston Ship Channel in 1919. In December 1926, the City of Houston annexed Harrisburg. The 1926 annexation of the Harrisburg area added 1,293 acres (523 ha) of land to the city limits.
Government and infrastructure
Primary and secondary schools
Harrisburg is served by the Houston Independent School District.
The area was previously in the Harrisburg Independent School District. J. R. Harris opened as Harrisburg School in 1895. A school for black students, also called Harrisburg School, opened in 1904. In 1952 that school for black students moved into a new building and was renamed "Kay Elementary School", after its first principal, who had been Savannah Georgia Kay. Kay Elementary School closed in 1978. Students at Chávez High School use the former Kay Elementary School as a "land lab".
Harrisburg is served by the Stanaker Branch of Houston Public Library.
- Andrew Forest Muir, "HARRISBURG, TX (HARRIS COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvh27), accessed August 21, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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