Corpus Christi ("the Body of Christ") was originally colonized in 1749, but the colony did not thrive. Settlements were proposed for this site in 1787, 1784, and twice in the 1830's with no luck. In 1839, a trading post and a thriving illegal trade with Mexico was established and the rest is history. In 1846, Corpus Christi became the county seat of Nueces County. An 1846 incorporation was repealed, as no officials had been elected, and Corpus Christi was reincorporated in 1852.
The shallow waters of Corpus Christi Bay, were an obstacle to large freighters. Smaller boats with more shallow drafts were needed for offloading. During the Civil War, the Confederacy defied Union blockades and used their smaller boats to sail inside the barrier islands for transport of goods. Union forces bombarded Corpus Christi from Mustang Island twice.
After the Civil War, Corpus Christie's economy was driven by sheep and cattle ranching, with Corpus Christi as the center of a wool market, and an important key to shipping. Packing houses, stockyards, and other peripheral industries boomed.
The main sea channel was dredged in 1874 for better draft for large steamers. The Corpus Christi, San Diego and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad was also organized in 1875, and the new city paved its streets and improved sanitation. Tourism was promoted, and by 1915 hotels and service industries were flourishing.
September 14, 1919, was the date of a hurricane so powerful that much of the North Beach area, the central business district, and the newly dredged harbor was destroyed. Almost 400 people were killed. In 1922 President Harding approved a rivers and harbors act that authorized construction of new, 30' ship channel. The Corpus Christi population doubled and the first "skyscraper" was built.
The discovery of oil in 1930 slowed the Depression in this area, and new channels (40' x 400') were completed in 1965 to enable the new supertankers to enter the port.
Corpus Christi's diversified economy includes agricultural exports, exports cotton, shipping, manufacturing, tourism, and gas and oil exports. Twenty-two docks in the Corpus Christi port are reserved for local petrochemicals and petroleum products. Truax Field adds more than $40 million annually economically to this area.
Recreational facilities abound in the Corpus Christi metropolitan area: Padre Island National Seashore, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Goose Island State Park, Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation, Lake Corpus Christi State Park, and the beach on the Bay of Corpus Christi offer boating, swimming, fishing, camping, and birdwatching. If history's your enthusiasm, Fort Lipantitlán, Fort Marcy, the first fort built in the state of Texas, and many historic homes are available for tour. The Texas State Aquarium focuses exclusively on aquatic life found in the Gulf of Mexico. Other cultural attractions include the Corpus Christi Museum, and the Art Museum of South Texas. Not to be missed is the Cinco de Mayo celebration at Heritage Park.
Corpus Christi's population in 2000 was 277,454. The population, which continues to grow, is approximately 50% Hispanic.