Occupying a city block just south of the confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous, this park marks the site of Houston’s founding in 1837. Brothers Augustus and John Allen settled the land in 1832. When the town was laid out, the block was designated Congress Square; by 1839 its name was changed to Market Square and the space was used for civic events and as an open-air market. City Hall was built on the site in 1841. In 1873, a new City Hall and market building were constructed, though these and subsequent constructions were destroyed by fires in 1876 and 1901. The market was relocated in 1929 and the government offices were moved to a newly constructed building nearby, completed in 1939. The former City Hall was converted into a bus depot and replaced by a parking lot when the building burned in 1960.
In the 1970s, the Junior League of Houston campaigned to establish a park at Market Square. Fred Buxton & Associates won the design competition and the park was dedicated in 1976 as part of the U.S. Bicentennial. In the mid-1980s, the City redeveloped the park, working with a team of artists who incorporated a range of art installations into their design. In 2008, the park was renovated by Lauren Griffith Associates and Ray+Hollington Architects. Here, public art and mature trees were retained while salvaged architectural remnants from the surrounding neighborhood were incorporated into walkways. A dining terrace, dog run, and lawns are located in the park, as well as a garden and fountain dedicated to lives lost on September 11, 2001. In 1983, the park was listed as a contributing feature of the Main Street/Market Square Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places.