Baytown is a city within Harris County and partially in Chambers County in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. state of Texas. Located within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area, it lies on the northern side of the Galveston Bay complex near the outlets of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou.
White American settlers first arrived in the now-Baytown area in 1822. One of its earliest settlers was Nathaniel Lynch, who set up a ferry crossing at the junction of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou. The still-operating ferry service is known as the Lynchburg Ferry. Other early settlers of Baytown included William Scott, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, and Ashbel Smith, who owned a plantation in the area. 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. The city of Baytown is located at the mouth of the San Jacinto River on Galveston Bay, 26 miles (42 km) by road east of Houston. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.5 square miles (94.6 km2), of which 35.4 square miles (91.8 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2), 2.92%, is covered by water.
Baytown is located on the Gulf coastal plain, and its vegetation is classified as temperate grassland and marshes. The municipalities have been built on reclaimed marshes, swamps, and prairies, which are all still visible in undeveloped parts of the Galveston Bay area. Baytown is bordered by water on three sides. Along the south and west is Galveston Bay. On the east is Cedar Bayou. The city is roughly bordered along the north by Interstate 10. Portions of the city to the east of Cedar Bayou lie in Chambers County. Flatness of the local terrain and proximity to the bay have made flooding a recurring problem for the area. Baytown and surrounding communities once relied on groundwater for its needs, but severe land subsidence has forced much the city to turn to ground-level water sources.