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A Short History of the City of Webster

Webster, a small city in terms of its square miles – just 6.7, but mighty in terms of commercial vibrancy – home to more than 2,200 businesses and a trade area that includes a 15-mile radius and 1.5M people – was founded in 1879 by James W. Webster under the name “Gardentown.” As Webster is positioned midway between downtown Houston and Galveston, the City was established initially as a colony for English immigrants. With the advent of the railroad, the area’s farming industry grew. 

In the early 1900s, a small farming community comprised of Japanese immigrants established rice farming as a key crop for the region. In addition to rice and fruit, dairies and livestock ranches abounded. In the 1930s, petroleum was discovered at the Webster-Friendswood Oilfield.

Webster was incorporated in 1958, shortly before NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced that it would build the Johnson Space Center (formerly called the Manned Space Center) in 1961. Naturally, NASA served as a catalyst to grow the City of Webster and the region. Webster has been home to many aerospace companies, including Ad Astra Rocket Company and Lockheed Martin’s Exploration Development Laboratory.

Two of Webster’s growth industries have always been aerospace and medical. Webster became the “medical center of the south” with Houston as the “medical center of the north” beginning in 1972 with Clear Lake Regional Medical Center. Webster’s medical center accommodates a service area population exceeding more than 1,800,000 patients annually. With the opening of Bay Area Regional Medical Center in 2014, that number is anticipated to continually escalate.

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