Houston ( ) is the fourth-largest
city in the United
States and the largest city in the state of Texas.
of the 2008 U.S. Census estimate, the city has a population of
2.2 million within an area of . Houston is the
seat of Harris County and the economic center of the metropolitan
area—the metropolitan area in
the U.S. with a population over 5.7 million.
Houston was founded on August 30, 1836, by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen
and John Kirby Allen
on land near the banks of
. The city
was incorporated on June 5, 1837, and named after then-President of
the Republic of Texas—former
General Sam Houston—who had commanded at
the Battle of
San Jacinto, which took place east of where the city was
The burgeoning port and railroad industry,
combined with oil discovery in 1901, has induced continual surges
in the city's population. In the mid-twentieth century, Houston became
the home of the Texas Medical Center—the world's largest concentration of healthcare and
research institutions—and NASA's Johnson Space
Center, where the Mission Control Center is
Rated as a beta world city
economy has a broad industrial base in the energy, manufacturing,
aeronautics, transportation, and health care sectors and is a
leading center for building oilfield equipment; only New York City
is home to more Fortune 500
in the city limits. The Port of
ranks first in the United States in international
waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage
handled. The city has a population from various ethnic and
religious backgrounds and a large and growing international
community. It is home to many cultural institutions and
exhibits—attracting more than 7 million visitors a year to the
Houston Museum District
Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene in the
is one of few U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies
in all major performing arts.
In August 1836, John Kirby Allen
and Augustus Chapman Allen
two real estate entrepreneurs from New York City, purchased of land
along Buffalo Bayou
with the intent of
founding a city. The Allen brothers decided to name the city
after Sam Houston, the popular general
at the Battle of San
Jacinto, who was elected President of Texas in September
Houston was granted incorporation on June 5, 1837, with James S. Holman
becoming its first mayor. In the
same year, Houston became the county seat of Harrisburg County (now
Harris County) and the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas
. In 1840, the community
established a chamber of commerce in part to promote shipping and
waterborne business at the newly created port on Buffalo
By 1860, Houston had emerged as a commercial and railroad hub for
the export of cotton. Railroad spurs from the Texas inland
converged in Houston, where they met rail lines to the ports of
Galveston and Beaumont.
During the American Civil War
Houston served as a headquarters for General John Bankhead Magruder
, who used the city
as an organization point for the Battle of Galveston
. After the Civil
War, Houston businessmen initiated efforts to widen the city's
extensive system of bayous so the city could accept more commerce
between downtown and the nearby port of Galveston. By 1890 Houston
was the railroad center of Texas.
after Galveston was struck by a devastating hurricane, efforts to make Houston into a viable deepwater
port were accelerated. The following year, oil discovered at the
Spindletop oil field near Beaumont
prompted the development of the Texas petroleum industry.
Houston, circa 1873
1902, President Theodore
approved a $1 million improvement project for
the Houston Ship Channel. By 1910 the city's population had reached
78,800, almost doubling from a decade before. An integral part of
the city were African Americans, who numbered 23,929 or nearly
one-third of the residents. They were developing a strong
professional class based then in the Fourth Ward.
President Woodrow Wilson
deepwater Port of Houston in 1914, seven years after digging began.
By 1930, Houston had become Texas's most populous city and Harris
the most populous county.
When World War II
levels at the port decreased and shipping activities were
suspended; however, the war did provide economic benefits for the
city. Petrochemical refineries and manufacturing plants were
constructed along the ship channel because of the demand for
petroleum and synthetic rubber products during the war.
Field, initially built during World War I, was revitalized as an advanced
training center for bombardiers and navigators.
The M. D.
Foundation formed the Texas Medical Center in 1945.
After the war, Houston's economy
reverted to being primarily port-driven. In 1948, several
unincorporated areas were annexed into the city limits, which more
than doubled the city's size, and Houston proper began to spread
across the region.
In 1950, the availability of air conditioning provided impetus for
many companies to relocate to Houston resulting in an economic boom
and producing a key shift in the city's economy toward the energy
increased production of the local shipbuilding industry during
World War II spurred Houston's growth, as did the establishment in
1961 of NASA's "Manned Spacecraft Center" (renamed the Lyndon
B. Johnson Space Center in 1973), which created the city's aerospace
industry. The Astrodome, nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World,"
opened in 1965 as the world's first indoor domed sports
During the late 1970s, Houston experienced a population boom as
people from Rust Belt
states moved to
Texas in large numbers. The new residents came for the numerous
employment opportunities in the petroleum industry, created as a
result of the Arab Oil
The population boom ended abruptly in the mid-1980s, as oil prices
fell precipitously. The space industry also suffered in 1986 after
the Space Shuttle
exploded shortly after launch. The late 1980s saw a
recession adversely affecting the city's economy.
Since the 1990s, as a result of the recession, Houston has made
efforts to diversify its economy by focusing on aerospace and
health care/biotechnology and by reducing its dependence on the
petroleum industry. In 1997, Houstonians elected Lee P. Brown
city's first African American mayor.
In June 2001, Tropical Storm
dumped up to of rain on parts of Houston, causing the
worst flooding in the city's history; the storm cost billions of
dollars in damage and killed 20 people in Texas. By December of
that same year, Houston-based energy company Enron
collapsed into the second-largest ever U.S.
bankruptcy during an investigation surrounding fabricated
partnerships that were allegedly used to hide debt and inflate
2005, Houston became a shelter to more than 150,000 people from
Orleans who evacuated from Hurricane Katrina.
One month later,
approximately 2.5 million Houston area residents evacuated
when Hurricane Rita
little damage to the Houston area. This was the largest urban
evacuation in the history of the United States.
A simulated-color image of
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of ; this
comprises of land and of water.Most of Houston is located on the
gulf coastal plain
and its vegetation is classified as temperate grassland and forest.
Much of the city was built on forested land, marshes, swamp, or
, which are all still visible in
surrounding areas. Flatness of the local terrain, when combined
with urban sprawl
, has made flooding a
recurring problem for the city. Downtown stands about above sea
level, and the highest point in far northwest Houston is about in
elevation. The city once relied on groundwater for its needs, but land subsidence forced the city to turn to
ground-level water sources such as Lake Houston and Lake
Houston has four major bayous
the city. Buffalo Bayou
runs through downtown and the Houston Ship Channel, and has three tributaries: White Oak Bayou, which runs through the
Heights neighborhood north of
downtown and then towards downtown; Braes Bayou, which runs along
the Texas Medical
Center; and Sims Bayou, which runs through the south of
Houston and downtown Houston. The ship channel
continues past Galveston and then into the Gulf of Mexico.
Underpinning Houston's land surface are unconsolidated clays
, clay shales
, and poorly
up to several miles deep. The
developed from river
deposits formed from the erosion of the Rocky Mountains
. These sediments
consist of a series of sands and clays
deposited on decaying organic matter, that over time, transformed
into oil and natural gas. Beneath the layers of sediment is a
water-deposited layer of halite
, a rock salt.
The porous layers were compressed over time and forced upward. As
it pushed upward, the salt dragged surrounding sediments into
formations, often trapping oil
and gas that seeped from the surrounding porous sands. The thick,
rich, sometimes black, surface soil is suitable for rice farming in
suburban outskirts where the city continues to grow.
The Houston area has over 150 active faults
(estimated to be 300 active faults)
with an aggregate length of up to , including the Long Point-Eureka Heights
which runs through the center of the city. There
have been no significant historically recorded earthquakes
in Houston, but researchers do not
discount the possibility of such quakes occurring in the deeper
past, nor in the future. Land in some communities southeast of
Houston is sinking because water has been pumped out from the
ground for many years. It may be associated with slip along faults;
however, the slippage is slow and not considered an earthquake,
where stationary faults must slip suddenly enough to create seismic
waves. These faults also tend to move at a smooth rate in what is
termed "fault creep
," which further
reduces the risk of an earthquake.
Houston's climate is classified as humid subtropical
Köppen climate classification system
). Spring supercell thunderstorms
sometimes bring tornados
to the area. Prevailing winds are
from the south and southeast during most of the year, bringing heat
across the continent from the deserts of Mexico and moisture
from the Gulf of
During the summer months, it is common for the temperature to reach
over , with an average of 99 days per year above . However,
the humidity results in a heat index
higher than the actual temperature. Summer mornings average over
90 percent relative humidity
and approximately 60 percent in the afternoon. Winds are often
light in the summer and offer little relief, except near the
immediate coast. To cope with the heat, people use air conditioning
in nearly every vehicle
and building in the city; in 1980 Houston was described as the
"most air-conditioned place on earth". Scattered afternoon
thunderstorms are common in the summer. The hottest temperature
ever recorded in Houston was on
September 4, 2000.
Winters in Houston are fairly temperate. The average high in
January, the coldest month, is , while the average low is .
Snowfall is generally rare. Recent snow events in Houston include a
storm on December 24,
when one inch (2.5 cm) fell and more recent snowfalls
on December 10 and December 24, 2008. The coldest temperature
ever recorded in Houston was on
January 23, 1940. Houston receives a high amount of rainfall
annually, averaging about 48 inches a year. These rains tend
to cause floods over portions of the city.
Houston has excessive ozone
levels and is
ranked among the most ozone-polluted cities in the United States.
Ground-level ozone, or smog
, is Houston’s
predominant air pollution problem, with the American Lung
Association rating the metropolitan area's ozone level as the 6th
worst in the United States in 2006. The industries located along
the ship channel are a major cause of the city's air
Houston was incorporated in 1837 under the ward
system of representation. The ward
designation is the progenitor of the nine current-day Houston City
Council districts. Locations in Houston are generally classified as
either being inside or outside the Interstate 610 Loop
. The inside
encompasses the central
and many residential neighborhoods that
predate World War II. More recently, high-density residential areas
have been developed within the loop. The city's outlying areas,
suburbs and enclaves are located outside of the loop. Beltway 8
encircles the city
another farther out.
Houston is the largest city in the United States without formal
zoning regulations, it has developed
similarly to other Sun
Belt cities because the city's land use regulations and
legal covenants have
played a similar role.
Regulations include mandatory lot
size for single-family houses and requirements that parking be
available to tenants and customers. Such restrictions have had
mixed results. Though some have blamed the city's low density,
, and lack of pedestrian-friendliness
on these policies, the
city's land use has also been credited with a bounty of affordable
housing, sparing Houston the worst effects of the 2008 real estate crisis
city issued 42,697 building permits in 2008 and was ranked first in
the list of healthiest housing markets for 2009, according to
Voters rejected efforts to have separate residential and commercial
land-use districts in 1948, 1962, and 1993. Consequently, rather
than a single central business district as the center of the city's
employment, multiple districts have grown throughout the city in
addition to downtown which include
Uptown, Texas Medical Center, Midtown,
Greenway Plaza, Energy Corridor, Westchase, and Greenspoint.
Government and politics
The city of Houston has a strong
form of municipal
. Houston is a home rule
city and all municipal elections in the state of Texas are nonpartisan
. The City's elected officials are
, city controller
and 14 members of the city council
. As of 2009, the mayor of Houston
is William "Bill" White
ballot who is serving his
third and final term (due to term
). Houston's mayor serves as the city's chief
administrator, executive officer, and official representative. He
is responsible for the general management of the city and for
seeing that all laws and ordinance
are enforced. As the result of a 1991 referendum
in Houston, a mayor
is elected for a two-year term, and can be
elected to as many as three consecutive terms.
The current city council
nine district based and five at-large positions was based on a U.S.
Justice Department mandate which took effect in 1979. At-large
council members represent the entire city. Under the current city
charter, if the population in the city limits goes past
2.1 million residents, the current nine-member city council
districts will be expanded with the addition of two city council
The city controller is elected independently of the mayor and
council. The controller's duties are to certify available funds
prior to committing such funds, processing disbursements, and
performing financial and performance audits of city departments.
is the current (as of
2009) city controller, serving her third term in office. The city's
begins on July 1 and ends on
Data from city-data.com
Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy
industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for
research and aeronautics.
also becoming popular economic bases in Houston. The ship channel
is also a large part of Houston's economic base. Because of these
strengths, Houston is designated as a beta world city
by the Globalization and World Cities
Study Group and Network.
Considered to be the energy capital of the world, five of the six
energy companies maintain a
large base of operations in Houston (international headquarters of
; US operational
headquarters of Exxon-Mobil
headquarters for international companies Shell
(US subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell located in The Hague,
Netherlands), and BP
headquarters are in London, England). Specifically, the
headquarters of Shell Oil Company, the US affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell, is located at One Shell
Plaza. While ExxonMobil
maintains its small, global headquarters in Irving, Texas, its upstream and chemical
divisions as well as most operational divisions, are located in
offices in Houston, having acquired a 40 story building intended to
be the headquarters of Enron. The company's Chevron Pipe Line
Company subsidiary is headquartered in Houston, and more divisions
are being consolidated and moved to Houston each year. Houston is
headquarters for the Marathon
, and Citgo
and alternative energy
companies such as
Horizon Wind Energy
is a leading center
for building oilfield
equipment. Much of
Houston's success as a petrochemical
complex is due to its busy man-made ship channel, the Port of Houston
. The port ranks first in the
United States in international commerce, and is the tenth-largest
port in the world. Unlike most places, where high oil
are seen as harmful to the economy, they are generally seen as
beneficial for Houston as many are employed in the energy industry.
The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown MSA's Gross Area Product (GAP) in
2008 was $440.4 billion, slightly larger than Belgium’s,
Malaysia’s, Venezuela’s or Sweden’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
When comparing Houston's economy to a national economy, only 21
countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product
Houston's regional gross area product. Houston's MSA Gross Area
Product for 2007 is estimated to be 416.6 billion, up 13.8 percent
from 2006. Mining
, which in Houston is almost
entirely exploration and production of oil and gas, accounts for
26.3% of Houston's GAP, up sharply in response to high energy
prices and a decreased worldwide surplus of oil production
capacity; followed by engineering
services, health services, and manufacturing
The Houston area added 42,400 private-sector
jobs between November 2007 and
November 2008 and registered the nation’s largest gain in
private-sector employment among the nation's cities, according to
employment statistics of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The unemployment rate in the city was 3.8% in April 2008, the
lowest level in eight years while the job growth rate was
In 2006, the Houston metropolitan area ranked first in Texas and
third in the U.S. within the Category of "Best Places for
Business and Careers" by Forbes
magazine. Foreign governments have established 89 consular offices
in metropolitan Houston. Forty foreign governments maintain
and commercial offices
here and 23 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade
associations. Twenty-five foreign banks representing 13 nations
operate in Houston, providing financial assistance to the
In 2008, Houston received top ranking on Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Best Cities of 2008
list which ranks cities on their local
economy, employment opportunities, reasonable living costs and
quality of life. The city ranked fourth for highest increase in the
local technological innovation over the preceding 15 years,
according to Forbes
magazine. In the
same year, the city ranked second on the annual Fortune 500
list of company headquarters, ranked
first for Forbes Best Cities for
, and ranked first on Forbes list of Best
Cities to Buy a Home
The annual Houston International
Festival spotlights a different culture each year
Houston is a multicultural
part because of its many academic institutions and strong
industries. Over 90 languages
are spoken in
the city. Houston has among the youngest populations in the nation,
partly due to an influx of immigrant
into Texas. The city has the third-largest Hispanic
population in the
United States. It also has more Hispanic Americans than any other
city in Texas An estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants
reside in the Greater
Houston area. Houston has some of the largest communities of
descent in the United States.
Houston, estimated to be over 2.0% of the city's population, is the
largest in the United States.
As of the 2005-2007 American
conducted by the U.S. Census
, White Americans
54.1% of Houston's population; of which 28.0% were non-Hispanic
made up 24.3% of Houston's population; of which 24.0%
were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indian
0.3% of Houston's population; of which 0.2% were non-Hispanic.
made up 5.3% of
Houston's population while Pacific Islander Americans
0.1%. Individuals from some other race made up 14.7% of the city's
population; of which 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from
two or more races
made up 1.1%
of the city's population; of which 0.6% were non-Hispanic.
Hispanics or Latinos made up 41.7% of Houston's population.
As of the 2000 Census
there were 1,953,631 people and the population density
was 3,371.7 people per
square mile (1,301.8/km2
). The racial makeup of the city
was 49.3% White, 25.3% African American, 5.3% Asian, 0.4% American
Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 16.5% from some other race, and 3.1%
from two or more races. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up
37.4% of Houston's population while non-Hispanic whites made up
Houston has a large number of immigrants from Asia
, including the largest Vietnamese American
population in Texas
and third-largest in the United States, with 30,000 people in
2007.Some parts of the city with high populations of Vietnamese and
residents have Chinese
street signs, in addition to
ones. Houston has two
: the original located in
Downtown, and the more recent one north of Bellaire Boulevard in
the southwest area of the city. The city has a Little Saigon
and Vietnamese businesses
located in the southwest area of Houston's Chinatown. A "Little India
" community referred to
as the "Harwin District" exists along Hillcroft.
Houston has a large gay community
concentrated primarily in Montrose
and Houston Heights
. It is
estimated that the Houston metropolitan area has the
twelfth-largest number of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in
the United States.
Houston has routinely been named as one of the "fattest cities in
America" in a prominent survey conducted yearly by Men's Fitness
magazine. However, a Houston
article has asserted that this ranking is
unscientific and therefore meaningless. Houston was labeled by the
magazine as "fattest city" in five of the past nine years, and was
deemed sixth fattest in 2009. Houston Mayor Bill White
formed the Mayor’s Wellness
Council and initiated the "Get Moving Houston" fitness campaign in
2005 to address Houston’s ranking by Men’s Fitness magazine.
Houston is a diverse
city with a
large and growing international community. The metropolitan area is
home to an estimated 1.1 million (21.4 percent) residents who
were born outside the United States, with nearly two-thirds of the
area's foreign-born population from south of the United
States–Mexico border. Additionally, more than one in five
foreign-born residents are from Asia. The city is home to the
nation’s third largest concentration of consular offices,
representing 86 countries.
Many annual events celebrate the diverse cultures of Houston. The
largest and longest running is the annual Houston Livestock Show and
, held over 20 days from late February to early
March. Another large celebration is the annual night-time Houston
, held at the end of
June. Other annual events include the Houston Greek Festival
, Art Car Parade
, the Houston Auto
Show, the Houston International Festival, the Westheimer Block
Party and the Bayou City Art
, which is considered to be one of the top five art
festivals in the United States.
received the official nickname of "Space City" in 1967 because it
is the location of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
Other nicknames often used by locals
include "Magnolia City," "Clutch
," and "H-Town."
Arts and theatre
Houston has an active visual
scene. The Theater District
downtown and is home to nine major performing arts organizations
and six performance halls. It is the second-largest concentration
of theater seats in a downtown area in the United States.
is one of few United States cities with permanent, professional,
resident companies in all major performing arts disciplines: opera
(Houston Grand Opera), ballet
(Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theater
Houston is also home to many local
and various smaller progressive arts organizations.
Houston attracts many touring Broadway acts, concerts, shows, and
exhibitions for a variety of interests.
The Museum District
popular cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than
7 million visitors a year. Notable facilities located in the district
include The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural
Science, the Contemporary Arts Museum
Houston, the Station Museum of
Contemporary Art, Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Houston Zoo. Located in the nearby Montrose area are The Menil Collection and Rothko
, located in River Oaks
, is a facility of the Museum of Fine Arts that
houses one of America's best collections of decorative art,
paintings and furniture. Bayou Bend is the former home of Houston
philanthropist Ima Hogg
Many venues scattered across Houston regularly host local and
, hip hop
musical acts. There has never been a widely renowned music scene in
Houston. Artists seem to relocate to other parts of the United
States once attaining some level of success. A notable exception to
the rule is Houston hip-hop
celebrates the unique southern flavor and attitude of its roots.
This has given rise to a strong, independent hip-hop
music scene, influencing and
influenced by the larger Southern hip hop
and gangsta rap
Houstonian hip-hop artists have attained commercial success.
Houston is the home of chopped and
Many non-hip hop artists that have come from Houston include the
pop and R&B girl group Destiny's
, hard Southern rock band ZZ Top
sixties psychedelic rock band Red
, folk-country singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett
, pop singer Hilary Duff
, singer and actor Patrick Swayze
, and indie-piano rock band
. Houston also once had
fledgling blues and folk scenes in the sixties and seventies with
blues performers such as Lightnin'
, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
"Texas" Johnny Brown, Johnny "Guitar"
, Albert Collins
, Johnny Copeland
, and Joe
many of whom recorded with the hometown music
label Peacock Records
artists in the city in the sixties and
seventies such as Townes Van Zandt
, Steve Earle
also called Houston home for many years playing at long
standing venues like Anderson Fair and the Old Quarter Acoustic
Cafe. The eighties and nineties produced punk
such as Dirty Rotten
, Verbal Abuse
, Really Red
the Pain Teens
and the outside
. The new millennium has seen a continuance of
Houston Noise Bands
contemporary performers such as Jana
and Indian Jewelry
Tourism and recreation
The Theater District
17-block area in the center of downtown Houston that is home to the
restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. Bayou Place is a large
multilevel building containing full-service restaurants, bars, live
, and art house films. The
Houston Verizon Wireless
stages live concerts
plays, and stand-up comedy; and the Angelika Film Center
is home to 337 parks including Hermann Park, which houses the Houston Zoo and the Houston
Museum of Natural Science, Terry Hershey
Park, Lake Houston
Park, Memorial Park, Tranquility Park,
Green and Sam Houston
Park (which contains restored and reconstructed homes which
were originally built between 1823 and 1905).
Of the 10 most
populous U.S. cities, Houston has the most total area of parks and
green space: . The city also has over 200 additional green
spaces—totaling over that are managed by the city—including the
and Nature Center
. The Williams Waterwall serves as a popular tourist attraction and sits in
Uptown Houston. The Houston Civic
Center was replaced by the George
R. Brown Convention Center—one of the nation's largest—and the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing
Arts, home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and
Society for the Performing Arts. The Sam Houston
Coliseum and Music Hall have been replaced by the Hobby Center
for the Performing Arts.
Houston is the official visitors’ center of NASA's Lyndon
B. Johnson Space Center.
Here one will find many interactive
exhibits including moon rocks
, a shuttle
simulator, and presentations about the history of NASA's manned
space flight program.
tourist attractions include the
Galleria (Texas's largest
shopping mall located in the Uptown
District), Old Market Square, the Downtown Aquarium, and Sam Houston
Houston has teams for nearly every major professional sport. The
), Houston Texans
), Houston Rockets
), Houston Dynamo
), Houston Wranglers
), Houston Leones
), and the H-Town Texas Cyclones
) all call Houston
Park (home of the Astros) and Toyota
Center (home of the Rockets, and Aeros) are located in a
revived area of downtown. The city has the Reliant
Astrodome, the first domed stadium in the world; it also
holds the NFL's first retractable-roof stadium, Reliant
Stadium. Other sports facilities in Houston include
Arena (former home of the Comets), and Robertson
Stadium (both used for University of Houston collegiate sports,
the latter also for the Houston
Dynamo), and Rice
Stadium (home of the Rice
University Owls football team).
The infrequently used
Reliant Astrodome hosted World Wrestling
on April 1, 2001, where an attendance record of 67,925
was set. The city also hosted WrestleMania XXV at Reliant
Stadium on April 5, 2009.
Houston has hosted major recent sporting events, including the
League Baseball All-Star Game
, the 2000 IHL All-Star Game
, the 2005 World Series
, the 2005 Big 12 Conference
game, the 2006 NBA All-Star
, the U.S. Men's Clay Court
from 2001–2006, and the Tennis Masters Cup
in 2003 and 2004,
as well as the annual Shell Houston
golf tournament. Starting in 2009, Houston will host the
final official event in the LPGA
the LPGA Tour Championship
The city hosts the annual NCAA College Baseball Minute Maid Classic
every February and NCAA football's Texas
in December. Houston has hosted the Super Bowl
championship game twice. Super Bowl VIII was played at Rice Stadium in 1974 and Super
Bowl XXXVIII was played at Reliant Stadium in 2004. From 1998 to 2001, the CART auto racing
series held a yearly race, the Grand Prix of Houston, on downtown streets. After a five-year
hiatus, CART's successor series, Champ
Car, revived the race for 2006 and 2007 on the streets
surrounding the Reliant
However, Champ Car merged with the
rival Indy Racing League
2008, discontinuing the Houston race in the process.
LeRoy and Lucile Melcher Center for
Public Broadcasting at the University of Houston
Houston is served by the Houston
, its only major daily newspaper with wide
distribution. The Hearst
, which owns and operates the Houston
, bought the assets of the Houston Post
—its long-time rival and main
competition—when Houston Post
ceased operations in 1995.
The Houston Post
was owned by the family of former
Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby
Houston. The only other major publication to serve the city is the
—a free alternative weekly
with a weekly
readership of more than 300,000.
Houston area is served by a public television station, KUHT, and
public radio station, KUHF. Both stations are
licensed to and operated by the University of Houston.
KUHT (Channel 8) is a PBS
member station and the first public television
station in the United States, and KUHF (88.7 FM) is an NPR
member station. Both stations
broadcast from the LeRoy and Lucile Melcher Center for Public
Broadcasting at the University of Houston.
One of the leading media personalities in Houston is Dave Ward
who is the longest running anchor at any
station in all of Houston, and one of few in the country.
led KTRK-TV for more than 40 years. Ron Stone
led Channel 2 News for 20 years, 1972 to
Miller, host of The Eyes of Texas, a cultural anthology series broadcast for nearly three decades over KPRC-TV, the NBC affiliate, is also well
known, as was Marvin Zindler.
late 1960s, Miller hired Kay Bailey
Hutchison, a Galveston native as the first woman newswoman in
She later served in the Texas House of
and the United
Houston's skyline has been ranked fourth most impressive in the
United States; it is the third-tallest skyline in the United States
and one of the top 10 in the world. Houston has a seven-mile
(11 km) system of
tunnels and skywalks
linking buildings in downtown which
contain shops, restaurants, and convenience stores. This system
enables pedestrians to avoid the intense summer heat and heavy rain
showers while walking from one building to another.
In the 1960s, Downtown Houston
consisted of a modest collection of mid-rise office structures, but
has since grown into one of the largest skylines
in the United States. Downtown was on the
threshold of a boom in 1970 with huge projects being launched by
real estate developers
the energy industry boom. A succession of skyscrapers were built
throughout the 1970s—many by real estate developer Gerald D. Hines—culminating with Houston's tallest
skyscraper, the 75-floor, -tall JPMorgan
Chase Tower (formerly the Texas Commerce Tower), which was
completed in 1982.
It is the tallest structure in Texas,
building in the United States and the 30th-tallest
skyscraper in the world based on height to roof. In 1983, the
71-floor, -tall Wells Fargo Bank Plaza (formerly Allied Bank Plaza) was completed,
which became the second-tallest building in Houston and
Based on height to roof, it is the 13th-tallest in
the United States and the 36th-tallest in the world. As of 2007,
downtown Houston had over 43 million square feet
(4,000,000 m²) of office space.
Centered on Post Oak Boulevard and Westheimer Road, the Uptown District
boomed during the 1970s and
early 1980s when a collection of mid-rise office buildings, hotels,
and retail developments appeared along Interstate 610
west. Uptown became
one of the most impressive instances of an edge city
. The highest achievement of Uptown was the
construction of the 64-floor, -tall, Philip Johnson and John Burgee designed landmark Williams
Tower (known as the Transco Tower until 1999).
the time, it was believed to the be the world's tallest skyscraper
outside of a central business district. The Uptown District is also
home to other buildings designed by noted architects such as
I. M. Pei
, César Pelli
and Philip Johnson
. In the late 1990s
and early 2000s, there was a mini-boom of mid-rise and high-rise residential
construction, with several over 30 stories tall. In 2002,
Uptown had more than 23 million square feet
(2,100,000 m²) of office space with 16 million square
feet (1,500,000 m²) of Class A
Police services are provided by the Houston Police Department
Houston's murder rate ranked 46th of U.S. cities with a population
over 250,000 in 2005 (per capita rate of 16.3 murders per 100,000
population). The city's murder rate, however, ranked 3rd among U.S.
cities with a population of 1,000,000 or more. Even those
statistics were believed to be higher after local TV news
investigator Mark Greenblatt found the Houston Police Department
under-counted 2005 homicides. Officially counting just two more of
the city's murders would have bumped up the city's murder rate to
second place. While nonviolent crime in the city dropped by
2 percent in 2005 compared to 2004, the number of homicides
rose by 23.5 percent. Since 2005,
Houston has been experiencing a spike in crime, which is due in
part to an influx of people from New Orleans following Hurricane
Katrina. After Katrina, Houston's murder rate increased
70 percent in November and December 2005 compared to levels in
2004. The city recorded 336 murders in 2005, compared to 272 in
2004. Houston's homicide rate per 100,000 residents increased from
16.33 in 2005 to 17.24 in 2006. The number of murders in the city
increased to 379 in 2006. Among other cities, Houston is a major
hub for drug traffickers, who supply cocaine, marijuana, heroin,
MDMA, and methamphetamine to distributors in other American
In 2007, Houston ranked first for auto-theft in the state of Texas
when more than 31,000 motor vehicles stolen in the Houston
made up of of freeways and expressways in a ten-county metropolitan
area. Its highway system uses a hub-and-spoke
structure serviced by multiple loops. The innermost loop is
encircles downtown, the medical center, and many core neighborhoods
with around a diameter. Beltway 8
and its freeway
core, the Sam Houston Tollway, form the middle loop at a diameter
of roughly . A proposed highway project, State Highway 99
Parkway), would form a third loop outside of Houston. Currently,
only two out of eleven segments of State Highway 99 have been
completed. Houston is located along the route of the proposed
Interstate 69 NAFTA
would link Canada, the U.S. industrial Midwest
, Texas, and Mexico. Other
spoke freeways either planned or under construction include the
Fort Bend Parkway
Hardy Toll Road
, Crosby Freeway
, and the future
Houston's freeway system is monitored by Houston TranStar—a
partnership of four government agencies that are responsible for
providing transportation and emergency management
services to the
. Houston TranStar was
the first center in the nation to combine transportation and
emergency management centers, and the first to bring four agencies
(Texas Department of
Transportation, Harris County, Texas, Metropolitan
Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas and the City of
Houston) together to share their resources.
METRO light rail along the Main Street
Corridor in Downtown
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or
METRO, provides public transportation in the form of buses, light
rail, and lift vans. METRO's various forms of public transportation
still do not connect many of the suburbs to the greater city. METRO
began light rail service on January 1, 2004 with the inaugural
track running about from the , which traverses through the and
terminates at . METRO is currently in the design phase of a 10-year
expansion plan that will add five more lines to the existing
Amtrak, the national rail passenger system, provides
service to Houston via the , which stops at a train
station on the north side of the downtown area.
The station saw 14,891 boardings and alightings in fiscal year
Houston is served by three airports, two of which are commercial
that served 52 million passengers in 2007 and managed by the
Houston Airport System
and the state of Texas selected the "Houston
Airport System as Airport of the Year" for 2005, largely because of
its multi-year, $3.1 billion airport improvement program for
both major airports in Houston. The primary city airport is George Bush
Intercontinental Airport (IAH), the eighth-busiest in the United States for
total passengers, and sixteenth-busiest worldwide.
Intercontinental currently ranks third in the United States for
non-stop domestic and international service with 182 destinations.
States Department of Transportation named George Bush
Intercontinental Airport the fastest-growing of the top ten airports in the
Houston is the headquarters of Continental Airlines
Intercontinental is Continental Airlines' largest hub
. The airline offers more than 700 daily
departures from Houston. In early 2007, Bush Intercontinental
Airport was named a model "port of entry" for international
travelers by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Houston Air Route
Traffic Control Center
stands on the George Bush
Intercontinental Airport grounds. The second-largest commercial airport is
P. Hobby Airport (named Houston International Airport until
1967) which operates primarily small to medium-haul domestic
flights. Houston's aviation history is showcased in
the 1940 Air
Terminal Museum located in the old terminal building on the west
side of the airport.
Hobby Airport has been recognized with
two awards for being one of the top five performing airports in the
world and for customer service by Airports Council
. Houston's third municipal airport is
Airport (a former U.S. Air Force base) used by military,
government, NASA, and
general aviation sectors.
Healthcare and medicine
Houston is the seat of the internationally renowned Texas Medical
Center, which contains the world's largest concentration of
research and healthcare
All 47 member institutions of the Texas Medical Center are non-profit organizations
provide patient and preventive care, research, education, and
local, national, and international community well-being. Employing
more than 73,600 people, institutions at the medical center include
and two specialty
institutions, two medical schools
four nursing schools
, and schools of
, public health, pharmacy
, and virtually all health-related careers.
It is where one of the first—and still the largest—air emergency
service, Life Flight
, was created, and a
very successful inter-institutional transplant program was
developed. More heart surgeries
performed at the Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the
the academic and research health institutions in the center include
College of Medicine, The
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The Methodist Hospital, Texas
Children's Hospital and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The Baylor College of Medicine has annually been considered within the top ten
medical schools in the nation, and it is currently considering a
merger with Rice University, a
top-tier undergraduate university; likewise, The University of
D. Anderson Cancer Center has consistently ranked
as one of the top two U.S. hospitals specializing in cancer care by
U.S. News & World Report
since 1990. The
, a renowned
psychiatric treatment center is affiliated with Baylor College of
Medicine and The Methodist Hospital System.
There are 17 school
serving the city. The Houston Independent School
(HISD) is the seventh-largest in the United States.
HISD has 112 campuses that serve as magnet or vanguard
schools—specializing in such disciplines as health professions,
visual and performing arts, and the sciences. There are also many
that are run
separately from school districts. In addition, some public school
districts also have their own charter schools.
The Houston area is home to more than 300 private schools, many of
which are accredited by Texas Private School Accreditation
Commission recognized agencies. The Houston Area Independent
offer education from a variety of different religious
as well as secular viewpoints. The Houston area Catholic schools
are operated by the
Colleges and universities
Houston has more than sixty colleges, universities and other
degree-granting institutions with a total enrollment of
approximately 360,000 students. There are four public universities
engaged in research and development in Houston. The University
of Houston (UH) is Texas's third-largest
public research university with 37,000 students from 130
countries. With over 300 degree programs and 40
research centers and institutes, UH is the flagship institution of
the University of Houston System (UHS) and is one of the most ethnically diverse
research university in the country.
Its law school— —ranked
No. 55 (Tier 1) of the "Top 100 Law Schools" in 2008 by
U.S. News & World Report
. UH has the only
optometry school and one of six pharmacy programs in Texas. The
(UHCL) is an upper-level university with 89 degree programs and an
enrollment of 7,700 located adjacent to NASA's Johnson Space
Center. The (UHD) is an open
university with an enrollment of 12,300 offering 46
degree programs. Texas Southern University (TSU) is a historically black four-year
university with a pharmacy program and the Thurgood Marshall School of
Houston is home to many private institutions of higher
learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally
recognized Tier One research university. is one of the leading
teaching and research universities of the United States and ranked
the nation's 17th-best overall university by U.S. News
& World Report
. Two private liberal arts colleges are
University (HBU) and University
of St. Thomas (UST).
Founded in 1923, South Texas College of Law
private and oldest law school in Houston located in Downtown.
There are three community college districts with campuses in
Houston. The Houston
Community College System
serves most of Houston and is the
fourth-largest community college system in the United States. The
northwestern through northeastern parts of the city are served by
various campuses of the Lone
Star College System
while the southeastern portion of Houston
is served by San Jacinto
- U.S. Port Ranking by Cargo Volume 2004. Port
Industry Information, American Association of Port
Authorities. 2004. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
- " ", Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved on
- Houston, Texas. Handbook of Texas
Online. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Born on the Bayou: city's murky start. John
Perry, City Savvy Online Edition. Published Summer 2006. Retrieved
- J.H.W. Stele to Sayers, September 11-12, 1900.
Texas State Library & Archives Commission, Retrieved
on August 31, 2007
- How Air Conditioning Changed America. The
Old House Web, Retrieved on April 4, 2007
- A Short History. Houston Geological
Auxiliary, Retrieved on April 4, 2007
- 8th Congressional District of Texas 2007
Appropriations Project Requests. Congressman Kevin Brady, 8th
District of Texas. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Flood Forecasting for the Buffalo Bayou Using
CRWR-PrePro and HEC-HMS. Center for Research in Water
Resources, The University of Texas at Austin Retrieved on
- Downtown Houston, Texas. TopoQuest.com
Retrieved on 2008-07-05.
- USGS Satsuma (TX) Topo Map.
TopoQuest.com. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-07-05.
Note: The boundaries of the City of
Houston are shown as "HOUSTON CORP BDY" along the dotted
- Super Neighborhood# 1-Willowbrook. City of
Houston. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- . United States Geological
Survey. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- Harris County. Handbook of Texas
Online. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- RICE CULTURE. Handbook of Texas
Online. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Richard Engelkeimer, Shuhab Khan, Carl Norman. " ",
University of Houston. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
- Earl R. Verbeek, Karl W. Ratzlaff, Uel S. Clanton. " Faults in Parts of North-Central and Western Houston
Metropolitan Area, Texas", United States Geological
Survey, 2005-09-16. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
- Principal Active Faults. Houston Area, Texas,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, May 1984. Retrieved on
- Texas Earthquakes, University of Texas Institute
for Geophysics, July 2001. Retrieved on 2007-08-29.
- " Monthly Averages for Houston, Texas",
Channel. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
- " National Climatic Data Center",
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of
Commerce, 2004-06-23. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
- " Average Relative Humidity", Department of
Meteorology at the University of Utah. Retrieved on
- WIND - AVERAGE SPEED (mph). Department of
Meteorology, University of Utah. 1993. Retrieved
- A MOMENT IN BUILDING. BLUEPRINTS,
Volume X, Number 3, Summer 1992. National Building Museum.
Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- " History for Houston Intercontinental, Texas on
Monday, September 4, 2000", Weather
Underground, 2000-09-04. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
- Houston Extremes Data and Annual Summaries.
National Weather Service,
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Published
2007-01-05. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- " State of the Air 2005, National and Regional
Analysis", American Lung Association, 2005-03-25.
Retrieved on 2006-02-17.
- " State of the Air 2006, 25 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities",
American Lung Association. Retrieved on 2006-04-02.
- " Summary of the Issues", Citizens League for
Environmental Action Now , 2004-08-01. Retrieved on
- " ", Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved on
- " ", The Port of Houston Authority, 2007-05-15.
Retrieved on 2007-05-27.
- " General Information", The Port of Houston
Authority, 2007-05-15. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.
- " ", Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved on
- " ", Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved on
- Badenhausen, Kurt. " 2006 Best Places for Business and Careers",
Forbes, 2006-05-04. Retrieved on 2006-12-15.
- " ", Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved on
- " Houston Facts and Figures", City of Houston.
Retrieved on 2006-12-15.
- . East-West Gateway Council of Governments. 2006.
Retrieved on 2007-01-11. Page 25 in PDF File, labeled as page
- Houston city, Texas. 2005 American Community
Survey Data Profile Highlights, United States Census
Bureau. 2005. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- United States and States R0101. Median Age of the
Total Population: 2005. 2005 American Community Survey,
United States Census
Bureau. 2005. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- The Face of Texas Jobs, People, Business,
Change. D'Ann Petersen and Laila Assanie, Federal Reserve
Bank of Dallas. October 2005. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- " South Asian businesses venture into Houston's
suburbs," Houston Chronicle, February 16,
- Gary J. Gates . The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation
Law and Public Policy, UCLA School of Law October, 2006. Retrieved
April 20, 2007.
Original Greek Festival, Houston, Texas. 2006. Retrieved on
2007-01-10. Warning: Automatic sound
- The Houston
International Festival. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Ramsey, Cody. " In a state of big, Houston is at the top",
Texas Monthly, September 2002. Retrieved December 10,
- " About Houston Theater District", Houston
Theater District. Retrieved on 2006-12-16.
- " Performing Arts Venues", Houston Theater
District. Retrieved on 2006-12-16.
- " A Brief History of the Art Car Museum",
ArtCar Museum of Houston. Retrieved on 2006-12-16.
- 2006 fall edition of International Quilt Festival attracts
53,546 to Houston. Quilts., Inc. Press release
published 2006-11-30. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- Houston Museum District. Greater Houston
Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-02-18.
- Houston Museum District Day. Texas Monthly.
2006. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Museum District. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Houston Museum District. Greater Houston
Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Angelika Houston. Angelika Film
Center. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- The Heritage Society: Walk into Houston's Past.
The Heritage Society. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Continental Magazine, March 2008. p.67.
- " WrestleMania X-Seven Sets Revenue, Attendance
Records", World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.,
2001-04-02. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- Gramsbergen, Egbert, Kazmierczak, Paul. " The World's Best Skylines", 2006-12-11. Retrieved on
- " Calculated Average Height of the Ten Tallest
(CAHTT)", UltrapolisProject.com. Retrieved on
- Fast Facts, Downtown Houston.
Houstondowntown.com 2006. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Residential Real Estate.
Uptown-houston.com Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- Commercial Real Estate. Uptown-houston.com
Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- " ," Morgan Quitno. Retrieved on November 29,
- Greenblatt, Mark. " Hiding Homicide: How HPD undercounts murder."
Thursday November 29, 2007. Retrieved on July 6, 2009.
- Villafranca, Armando. " Houston violent crime to be studied",
Houston Chronicle, November 23, 2006,
p. 3. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- " ", Texas Department of Public
Safety, 2004. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- O'Hare, Peggy. " ", Houston Chronicle, 2007-01-01.
Retrieved on January 1, 2007
- " Distribution - Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking
Area Drug Market Analysis 2009." U.S. Department of Justice.
Retrieved on August 11, 2009.
- " ", Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved on
- About Houston TranStar. Houston
TranStar. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- About George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Houston Airport System. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- Facts and Figures. Houston Airport System.
2007. Retrieved on 2007-02-28.
- " Houston ISD automates lunch", eSchool News
online, 2006-02-21. Retrieved on 2006-12-16.
- Private Schools. Houston-Texas-Online. 2004.
Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- Houston Private Schools. HoustonAreaWeb.com.
Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- School Art Participation. Houston Livestock Show and
Rodeo. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
- About HAIS. Houston Area Independent
Schools. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
- " A Chronological History of South Texas College of
Law", South Texas College of Law, 2005. Retrieved on
- " Houston Community College Distance Education
Program," Houston Community College. Retrieved on
- Houston, New York Has a Problem, City
Journal, Summer 2008
Years of Historic Houston Houstonhistory.com. 2007.
Retrieved on 2007-01-13.
- A thumb-nail history of the city of Houston, Texas,
from its founding in 1836 to the year 1912, published
1912, hosted by the Portal to Texas History, republished 2007 by Copano
- True stories of old Houston and Houstonians:
historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., published 1913, hosted by the
Texas History, republished 2007 by Copano Bay Press.