Missouri City is on U.S. Highway 90A and State Highway 6, twenty miles southwest of downtown Houston in northeast Fort Bend and southwest Harris counties. In 1890 R. M. Cash and L. E. Luckle, two Houston real estate investors, bought four square miles of land southwest of Houston. They advertised in St. Louis, Missouri, and surrounding areas and referred to the property as a "land of genial sunshine and eternal summer." In 1893 W. R. McElroy bought eighty acres in the same vicinity and began to promote the area. To tie his promotion into the advertising by Cash and Luckle and help sales in the St. Louis area, he called the new town Missouri City. It was officially registered in Texas in 1894. The first families to settle at the site came from the area of Arlington, Texas. The first business was a blacksmith shop. In the early 1900s homes and a schoolhouse were built, and a general store housed the first post office, which opened in 1897. The first Catholic church, built in 1913, was destroyed in 1915 by a hurricane. Another was built and still stood in 1990. The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway came through what is now the northern part of Missouri City in 1853. A depot was built in 1902. Another line, known as the Sugar Land Railroad, later ran beside State Highway 6. Sugarcane was shipped from plantations near Missouri City to Sugar Land, Texas. Access to the railroads opened markets to farmers and ranchers shipping cotton, corn, cattle, and sugarcane. Many residents also used the railroad to commute to work in other towns.
In 1919 oil was discovered in nearby Blue Ridge. Soon afterward a salt mine opened there, and in 1925 natural gas was discovered. In 1926, Missouri City became the first town in the county to make use of natural gas. The town was incorporated on March 13, 1956, and a mayor and five city councilmen were elected. A council-manager government was adopted in 1974. The city has three fire stations. Its post office was built in 1959. Missouri City has fourteen parks, a civic-center complex, and a community center that opened in 1986. For health care, Fort Bend Community Hospital and the Kelsey-Seybold Medical Clinic are available. More than fifteen religions are represented by houses of worship in the city, as well as a number of community service organizations. The East Fort Bend Heritage Society was formed in Missouri City and worked on preservation projects until it disbanded in 1989. The city sponsors annual events such as Oktoberfest, Snowfest, and an Easter egg hunt. As of 1994 there were six elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school in the city, which is in the Fort Bend Independent School District. Missouri City has never had a commercial or industrial base large enough to support its population. Most of its income has traditionally been from ranching and farming. As of 1989 most of the commercial development was retail. The medical segment of the service industry was also very important, and the local petrochemical industry produced compression and drilling products. The population of Missouri City stayed around 100 from 1904 to 1960 and then started to grow quite rapidly. From 4,500 in 1970 it leapt to 24,533 in 1982. It was 31,000 in 1989, when the town had 250 businesses. Most of the residents commute and work in nearby Houston. In 1990 the population was 36,176. By 2000 the population reached 52,913 with 1,451 businesses.