Baytown is a city within Harris County and partially in Chambers County in the Gulf Coast region of the US state of Texas. Located within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area, it lies along both State Highway 146 and Interstate 10. It is the fourth-largest city within this metropolitan area. As of 2010, Baytown had a population of 71,802.
The area of Baytown began to be settled as early as 1822. One of its earliest residents was Nathaniel Lynch, who set up a ferry crossing at the junction of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou. The ferry service that he started is still in operation today, now known as the Lynchburg Ferry. Other early residents of Baytown include William Scott, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, and Ashbel Smith, who owned a plantation in the area. One of Baytown's first babies born was Gertrude Gardner.
The city now known as Baytown was originally three separate towns. The first of these was Goose Creek, named for the bayou of the same name where Canada geese wintered and whose name is still reflected in the area's Goose Creek school district, whose establishment dates back to before 1850. With the discovery of the Goose Creek Oil Field, the rival communities of Pelly in the late 1910s, and East Baytown in the early 1920s, developed as early boomtowns. The "East" in East Baytown was later dropped because it was west of Goose Creek.
Serious talk of merging the three cities began shortly after World War I, but the community of Baytown was opposed to this idea. However, in 1947, the three cities finally agreed to consolidate. The citizens settled on the name Baytown for the new combined city. Baytown as it is known today was officially founded January 24, 1948.
In 1916, the Humble Oil and Refining Company, founded by one-time Texas governor Ross S. Sterling and his associates, in developing the Goose Creek Oil Field, built the first offshore drilling operation in Texas and the second in the United States. The company later built the Baytown Refinery, which would become one of the largest Exxon refineries in the world. Since then, many other refineries have been built in the area. Exxon-Mobil is still one of the major employers in the city and now runs over 10 plants in the area.
Following the discovery of oil nearby, the population of Baytown and the Tri-cities boomed. Many immigrants arrived in Baytown, among them a number of Jewish families who founded a synagogue, K’nesseth Israel, in 1930.
Steel manufacturing in Baytown began in 1970 when United States Steel opened the Texas Works near the city. The welded pipe used in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was produced at the facility's pipe mill. The plant was officially closed in July 1986, due to a poor economic climate and the decline of American steel in the 1980s. The mill was later purchased by Jindal Steel and now operates as JSW Steel USA, Inc.