Houston redirects here. For other meanings of the word, please see Houston (disambiguation)

Picture of the Downtown Houston Skyline

Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States and is one of the two largest economic areas in Texas. It is the county seat of Harris County6 and the far west portion of Houston also extends into Fort Bend County. Houston is situated in East Texas.

As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 1,953,631. Houston is one of the newest and fastest growing major cities in the United States. 50 years ago there were less than 500,000 people here, and 100 years ago Houston was the 85th largest town in the U.S. Now, quoted as the "Fastest Growing City in America" and "the Most Popular City to Relocate," there are as many as 5 million people living in the Houston Metropolitan Area. Houston covers about 600 square miles in area, and is also the largest city in the United States which does not have zoning laws.

Houston is world renowned for its energy industry (particularly oil),aeronautics industry and ship channel. The Port of Houston is the second busiest port in the United States, fifth busiest in the world. Because of the economic trades, many residents have moved in from other U.S. states, as well as hundreds of countries worldwide.

Officially, Houston has been nicknamed the Space City. "Houston" was the first word uttered on the moon, as Neil Armstrong reported back to NASA. It is known by the locals, however, as the Bayou City. (Other nicknames include "Clutch City", and "Magnolia City".)

The city had placed an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Houston was home to the Super Bowl VIII, and will be home to Super Bowl XXXVIII when it plays at the Reliant Stadium in February 2004.

There were four USS Houston ships named after the city by the U.S. Navy.

Houston sends more people to death row than any other city in the United States.

The Houston, Texas flag

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography and Climate
3 Demographics
4 Areas of the city
5 Transportation
6 Economy
7 Famous Events
8 People and culture of Houston
9 Religion
10 Law and Government
11 Historical Events
12 Sports Teams
13 Museums not located in the Museum District
14 Journalism
15 Education
16 Houston in film and TV
17 External Links
18 Sources


Houston's Turbulent Beginning

John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen were seeking to build a city right after the
Texas Revolution. On August 1836, they purchased 6,642 acres of land from T. F. L. Parrot, John Austin's widow for $9,428. The land, on the ruins of Harrisburg, was named after Sam Houston, a Texas Revolution hero due to the proximity to San Jacinto. A woman named Gail Borden, Jr, who would later found the Borden milk company, designed the town.

After it was established, it started out as a hamlet. Its population then swelled into the hundreds and then the thousands. The Laura, the first ship ever to visit Houston and Galveston, arrived on January 1837. The city was granted incorporation by the state legislature on June 5, 1837. Houston was made as a temporary capital of Texas. The first business opportunity for the city vaporized when a businessman's uncle, whom was considering relocating his carriage making business, witnessed violence in a Texas saloon. He left the state never to return.

Lawlessness, diseases, and financial difficulties prompted Houstonians to put an end to their problems. And so, the wanted to make a Chamber of Commerce just for the city. A bill had been introduced on November 26, 1838 in Congress that would establish this entity. President Mirabeau B. Lamar signed the act into law on January 28, 1840. This move could not had come sooner; Some creditors had already cut off some Houston businessmen, and there were yellow fever outbreaks that claimed 10 percent of the population. Also, on January 14, 1839, the capital had been moved to Austin, known as Waterloo at the time. On April 14, 1840, several men met at the Carlos City Exchange and enacted the Chamber of Commerce. Conditions that were getting worse started to get better.

In 1840, the town was divided into four wards, each with different functions in the community. The wards are no longer political divisions, but their names are still used. The Texas Government started to promote colonization of the state. The Allen brothers started to promote their town. The Allen brothers were not particularly honest to the people whom they settled. They boasted of waterfalls in their advertisements when all Houston had were bayous. However, Houston did get many perks very quickly, since the brothers really wanted their city to succeed. Digging for a proposed Port of Houston began when Congress approved a move to dig out the Buffalo Bayou on January 9, 1842. $2000 came as financial aid. Houstonians had mixed opinions over the apparent statehood of their country. When Mexico was threatening Texas, President Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston on June 27, 1842. However, the Austin residents wanted to keep the archives in their city. This would be known as the Archive Wars. The capital was then moved to Washington on-the-Brazos on September 29. Austin became capital again in 1844. The port in Houston was getting some shipping business, but the shallowness of the water hampered massive shipping. During the 1850's, the Houstonians decided to build in a rail system to connect their port with rail links. 11 companies built 451 miles of track all before 1860. Mexican-Americans, who were one of the earliest immigrant groups to Houston, were preferred as railroad builders.

Houston first dabbled in shipping cotton, lumber, and other manufacturing products. Alexander McGowen established the iron industry, and Tom Whitmarsh built a cotton warehouse. A fire ravaged Houston on March 10, 1859, but the city rebuilt itself soon after.

Thousands of enslaved African-Americans lived near the city before the Civil War. Many of them around the city were on sugar and cotton plantations, while many in the city limits did housework. 49 percent of the city's population was enslaved in 1860. Slave life in the city was generally easier than slave life outside of the city.

The Civil War and the Reconstruction

As 1860 came along, most Houstonians supported John C. Breckenridge, an independent democrat candidate. However, he lost the election. As the civil war went underway, people whom were loyal to the Confederacy and people whom were loyal to the Union had a falling out. The Chamber of Commerce kept the city together during the conflict. Galveston got blockaded on October 4, 1862, which in turn soured Houston's economy. On January 1, 1863, John B. Magruder's Confederate forces recaptured the city. However, the war was won by the Unionists and Texas got four years under military rule as a punishment, along with all of the other Confederate states sans Tennessee. June 19, 1865 became "Juneteenth" when Major General Gordon Granger came to Galveston and announced the end of slavery. In 1869, the Ship Channel Company was made to help dig up the Buffalo Bayou. Texas' developments were revived shortly after the "carpetbagger" rule. On May 1870, Houston was the site of the State Fair. The fair remained until 1878.After Texas readmitted itself to the Union in April 16, 1870, Houston was going to grow during the reconstruction era. Houston became a port of entry on July 16, 1870. Its new charter drew up eight wards. Many freed slaves opened businesses and worked under contracts. The Freedmen's Bureau stopped abuse of the contracts in 1870. Many African-Americans at the time were in unskilled labor. Many former slaves legalised their current marriages after the Anerican Civil War. African-American pupils were taught in separate facilities from Caucasian children. Soon after the Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws arrived in Houston.

Lumber became a large part of the port's exports, with merchandise as its chief import. The Houston Post was established in 1880. The Houston Chronicle followed on August 23 of that year. Former U. S. President Ulysses Grant came to Houston to celebrate the opening of the Union Station, which had rail links with New Orleans. Fifth Ward residents threatened to secede from Houston because they felt they already had been separated. An iron drawbridge built in 1883 pacified them, and they did not secede. In 1887, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word established a hospital that would become Saint Joseph's Hospital.

The Early 1900's

In 1893, George H. Hermann donated a site for the purpose of a charitable hospital. It would later become Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. In 1898, Houstonians appealed before Congress for permission to turn the Buffalo Bayou into a deepwater port. The Spanish-American War prompted them to request permission. Congress approved it on March 3, 1899 and amended the act on February 20, 1900. On September 8 - September 9, the Great Galveston Hurricane savagely tore apart the city of Galveston, Texas. After the incident, investors were afraid of its location, and invested in Houston. The oil discovery at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas in 1901 prompted a new industry to be developed in Texas. The oil trade would transform Houston from a smaller town into a large city. In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt had approved a one-million dollar fund for the Ship Channel. By 1910, the population of Houston was larger than that of Galveston. 1902 also saw the first Japanese Americans into Texas, who moved there after Sadatsuchi Uchida gave a fact-finding tour of the Gulf Coast region. This would establish rice as a crop of the Gulf Coast area. In 1912, the Rice Institute (now Rice University) opened in the West University area. By 1913, twelve oil companies had located themselves in Houston. President Woodrow Wilson opened the port in 1914, 74 years after the digging started. Service started with the Satilla, a ship that ran from Houston to New York, New York. Mexican-Americans displaced by the civil war started flooding the city of Houston. Ever since, Mexicans and other Latin-Americans were a heavy influence in the city of Houston. World War I put the gasoline-combustible automobile into widespread use, causing oil to become a precious commodity. However, the war caused the amount of tonnage arriving to drop. After the war, the rice business fell flat, causing many Japanese-Americans to find other work or to move out of Texas.

On May 30, 1922, George Hermann, a millionaire, donated land to the city that would later become the Hermann Park. September of the same year saw the start of the Houston Zoo. The zoo was started when Houston schoolchildren bought two ostriches. The zoo was later moved from Sam Houston Park to Hermann Park. September 26 saw the first international-bound ship in the port. During the Roaring Twenties', more specifically 1927, the state highway to Houston was built. Bus and truck operations also fell into swing. August 1929 saw the first Sears into Houston. Then Black Tuesday threw devastating blow to the economy of the entire United States. Houston's growth was much smaller, but the city still grew. Mexican Americans no longer saw easy to obtain jobs, yet several were successful by catering to the Caucasian market in the city. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo came in 1932. The University of Houston came in 1934. A flood in 1935 further worsened conditions, and Houstonians were forced to clean up the mess. Air service by Braniff and Eastern Airlines came in 1935 and 1936. By the end of the decade, Houston was encountering growth pains, as the city had inadequate air service and that it was no longer a frontier town. Houston became the largest city in Texas in terms of population in 1939. Many immigrants and African-Americans from Lousiana and other parts of Texas moved to the city to find education or work. The city obtained a very multicultural atmosphere, with large African-American and immigrant communities scattered about. However, African-Americans faced bad housing and poor jobs during this time period. Nethertheless, African-American society developed so much that the city was, and still is, the African-American capital of Texas. Also, educational facilities for minority groups, including the Wiley College opened in this time period.

World War II to the 1970s

When World War II started, tonnage levels fell and five shipping lines ended service. April 1940 saw streetcar service replaced by buses. Pan Am started air service in 1942. World War II sparked the reopening of Ellington Field. The Cruiser Houston was named after the city. It sank after a vicious battle in Java, Indonesia in 1942. August 1942 also saw the new City Manager government enacted. The M. D. Anderson Foundation formed the Texas Medical Center in 1945. As a result of the war, aircraft and shipbuilding became large industries in Texas. Tonnage rose after the end of the war in 1946. During the same year, E. W. Bertner gave away 161 acres of land for the Texas Medical Center. Surburban Houston came to be in the period from 1946 to 1950. When Oscar D. Holcombe took his eight term in 1946, he abandoned the city manager type government. Foley's department store opened in 1947. The Alley Theatre got its first performance in 1947. The banking industry also rose to prominence in the late 1940's. Houston carried out a large annexation campaign to increase its size. When air conditioning came to the city, it was called the "World's Most Air Conditioned City". The economy of Houston reverted back to a healthy, port driven economy. Segregation was not as rampant and vicious as it was in other parts of the South. As demonstrated by the NAACP voting drive in the time period, many African-Americans in the city started to more openly challenge segregational laws.

The medical center became operational in the 1950's. The Galveston Freeway and the International Terminal at Houston International Airport (nowadays Hobby Airport) were signs of increasing wealth in the area. Millions of dollars were spent replacing aging infrastructure. In 1951, the Texas Children's Hospital and the Shriner's Hospital were built. Existing hospitals had expansions being completed. July 1, 1952 was the date of Houston's first network television. Another problem Houston had back in the 1950's was the fact that it needed a new water supply. They at first relied on ground water, but that caused land subsidence. They had proposals in the Texas Congress to use the Trinity river. Hattie Mae White was elected to the school board in 1959. She was the first African-American to be elected in a major position in Houston in the 20th Century. Starting in 1950, Japanese-Americans as a whole were leaving horticulture and going into business in larger cities, such as Houston.

In the year 1960, Houston International Airport was deemed inadequate for the needs of the city. This airport could not be expanded, so Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport) was going to be built north of the city. December 1961 saw Hurricane Carla, which was a very destructive hurricane that hit the city of Houston. On July 4, 1962, NASA opened the Manned Spacecraft Center in Clear Lake City, Texas, now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. This would bring many jobs to the Houston area, especially Clear Lake City. July 1965 saw Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Liberty County, and Montgomery County added to the Houston Metropolitan Area. December 1965 saw the opening of the Astrodome, then called the Harris County Domed Stadium. Barbara Jordan was elected to the Senate by Houstonians on November 8, 1966. Houston Intercontinental Airport was built in 1969. Houston International Airport, renamed to Hobby Airport, was closed to commercial aviation until 1971. In the 1970's, the Chinese American community in Houston started growing at a rapid rate. Although one had existed since the late 1800's, it was relatively small until the 1970's. One Shell Plaza and Two Shell Plaza got completed in 1971. One Shell Plaza, at the time, was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The Houston Independent School District had a slower plan to desegregate schools, but on June 1, 1970, the Federal officials struck it down and forced HISD to adopt zoning laws. There were still racial tensions over integration of the schools. The Houston Community College system got established in 1972 by HISD. Water pollution of the Houston Ship Channel became notorious in 1972. August 1973 saw the "Houston Mass Murders", which were the murders of 27 boys killed by 3 men. August 2 saw La Grange, Texas's "Chicken Ranch shut down thanks to Marvin Zindler's report. Work on the Texas Commerce Tower, now the J. P. Morgan Chase Tower, began in 1979. The same year saw a racially integrated City Council for the first time. The late 1970's saw a population boom thanks to the Arab Oil Embargo. People from the Rust Belt states would massively move into Texas. During the time period, five African-Americans served on city council. The Houston Independent School District was also forced to desegregate, which it did so. Some Hispanic Americans felt they were being discriminated against when they were being put with only African-Americans as part of the desegregation plan, so many took their children out of the schools and put them in "huelgas", or protest schools, until a ruling in 1973 satisfied their demands. The Third Ward became the center for African-American activity in the city.

1980's to Present Day

Several new construction projects, including The Park Shopping Mall, the Allied Bank Tower, the Gulf Tower and several other buildings were being carried out in downtown. The Transco Tower, the tallest building in the world outside of a CBD, was completed in 1983. METRO wanted to build a rail system connecting the city with the suburbs, but the plan was rejected by voters on June 11. The voters did approve plans for the George R. Brown Convention Center. August 18 saw Hurricane Alicia, which caused the most expensive damages in U.S. History. Alicia smashed Galveston and Houston. The massive population boom calmed down when oil prices fell in 1986 due to the embargo being lifted. The space industry also took a blow that year with the explosion of the Challenger in Florida. The first nine months of 1987 saw the death of eleven banks. The 1980's was a decade of recession for the Houston economy, although the cultural areas expanded. The George R. Brown Convention Center, the Wortham Theatre, and the Menil Collection open this month. On August 7, 1988, Congressman Mickey Leland died in a plane crash in Ethiopia. On October 3, a Phillips 66 plant exploded in Pasadena, Texas, killing 23 and injuring 130. Admission fees on the Houston Zoo came the first time that year. 1990 saw the Mickey Leland International Airlines building of Houston Intercontinental Airport open. The 12-gate terminal was named after Mickey Leland. In 1991, Sakowitz stores shut down. The Sakowitz brothers had brought their original store from Galveston to Houston in 1911. August 10, 1991 saw a redrawing of districts for city council. Minority groups wanted to get more members into the city council. 1993 saw the G8 visiting to discuss world issues. Kingwood, Texas got annexed in 1996, causing some residents to get angry. In the mid-1990's, Rod Paige became superintendent of HISD, and the district became very well known for high test scores. Paige later left to be in the cabinet of George W. Bush when he became President. The sports teams had outdated stadiums, and they had threatened to leave Houston. The Houston Oilers did so after several threats, so the city built Enron Field, now Minute Maid Park for the baseball team. Reliant Stadium came up for the Houston Texans. Tropical Storm Allison devastated many neighborhoods with flooding in June 2001. Soon after September 11, Enron, a company in Houston, got caught in accounting scandals in October 2001. Andrew Fastow was arrested and the company was sued. The new Terminal E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport partially opened on June 3, 2003. The rest will open in December. The Toyota Center, the stadium for the basketball and hockey teams, opened in fall 2003. METRO put in light rail service on January 1, 2004. Voters have decided by a close margin (52 yes to 48 no) that METRO's light rail shall be implemented.

A challenge Houston faces is how the city can wean itself from dependence on the oil trade, which will not last forever.

Geography and Climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,558.4 km² (601.7 mi²). 1,500.7 km² (579.4 mi²) of it is land and 57.7 km² (22.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 3.70% water.

Houston's climate is classified as being a humid subtropical. Houston has the gulf coastal plains biome. The vegetation is classified as a temperate grassland. It has a hot and humid climate because the winds from the Gulf of Mexico pick up a lot of moisture and deposit it in the area. Average precipitation levels range from 36 to 48 inches. The air tends to feel still, especially in the summertime. The humidity tends to make the air feel hotter than it really is. It is not uncommon for afternoon rains to occur in the city, and many Houston meteorologists almost never give out a zero percent chance of rain. The winters are cool and temperate, but are not as cold as in North Texas. Thunderstorms occur quite a bit during the summertime.

Houston has three bayous passing through the city. The Buffalo Bayou, which runs into downtown, the Brays Bayou, which runs along the Texas Medical Center, and the Sims Bayou in the south of Houston merge in downtown Houston into the Houston Ship Channel. The Ship Channel goes past Galveston, Texas into the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of Houston is very flat and has about fifty feet above sea level in elevation. The Houston Heights area has the highest elevation in the city. The city once relied on groundwater for its water needs. Land subsidence forced the city to turn to ground-level water sources.

Hurricanes have slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast on numerous occasions. Several hurricanes have passed through Houston, causing death and destruction. Ironically, a hurricane prevented Galveston from becoming the economic power in southeast Texas; Houston now has the economic prowess in the region. A recent example on how the hurricane can affect the way of life was actually a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Allison passed through the city on June 2001. Many neighborhoods had changed because of the storm; older houses in some afflicted neighborhoods have been torn down and replaced with larger houses with larger foundations.

Houston's climate is often compared to that of Dallas, Texas. Dallas has a hot and dry climate while Houston has a hot and humid climate. While Dallas gets hotter temperatures, Houston's heat index is often higher.

A simulated-color satellite image of Houston, Texas, taken on NASA's Landsat 7 satellite. In the very center is Downtown Houston. Galveston is also clearly visible in the picture.


As of the census of 2000, there are 1,953,631 people, 717,945 households, and 457,330 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,301.8/km² (3,371.7/mi²). There are 782,009 housing units at an average density of 521.1/km² (1,349.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 49.27% White, 25.31% African American, 0.44% Native American, 5.31% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 16.46% from other races, and 3.15% from two or more races. 37.41% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 717,945 households out of which 33.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% are married couples living together, 15.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% are non-families. 29.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.67 and the average family size is 3.39.

In the city the population is spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 33.8% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 99.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $36,616, and the median income for a family is $40,443. Males have a median income of $32,084 versus $27,371 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,101. 19.2% of the population and 16.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 26.1% are under the age of 18 and 14.3% are 65 or older.

The Hispanic population in Houston is increasing as more and more from Latin countries try to find work in Houston. Hispanics make up a significant amount of the population. Houston has the third largest Hispanic population in the United States. People from Asian countries such as China, Korea, Japan, India, and Pakistan are also flocking to Houston. Houston has two Chinatowns, as well as the second largest Vietnamese population in the United States. Recent problems with taxes are forcing the Vietnamese out of their current neigborhood into other areas. Houston has the second highest South African population in the United States, after Miami, Florida. Houston also boasts of having a population with a younger age than the national average.

Areas of the city

  • The Skyline District is the heart of Downtown Houston and home to many skyscrapers and to headquarters of various multinational businesses and financial institutions.
  • There are two Chinatowns of Houston. The orginal one is in Downtown in the shadow of the George R. Brown Convention Center, while the larger one resides primarily near Bellaire, Texas in southwest Houston.
  • Midtown Houston is an area near southwest to Downtown and is a recently redeveloped area with many newly constructed and trendy apartments and flats. It is also home to Little Saigon, the center of Vietamese commerce and businesses.
  • River Oaks is a very trendy and upscale area. It is the wealthiest neighborhood in Texas. Located between Downtown and Uptown, it is home to many celebrities and political figures.
  • Near and partially blending into River Oaks, the areas of Highland Village, Upper Kirby (UK), and Rice Village are home to many expensive and upscale shopping and dining venues.
  • Fourth Ward, which shares a zip code with River Oaks, is among the poorest. It was the prominent area of the African-American community, but the Third Ward picked up the prominence after World War I.
  • Montrose is a very cultural area, located in west Uptown. It is the center of Houston's gay/lesbian community.
  • The Houston Theater District is home to Houston's eight performing arts organizations and includes the stages of the Alley Theater, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Wortham Center, Jones Hall, and Aerial Theater.
  • The Houston Museum District contains over 15 museums, Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo and the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
  • Reliant Park Area includes Reliant Park and Six Flags Astroworld
  • South Park is a large Mexican-American neighborhood, made famous by the rapper South Park Mexican
  • Texas Medical Center
  • Third Ward is a prominent African-American community bordering the Texas Medical center and is home to Texas Southern University.
  • Fifth Ward is a is a predominately African-American community. It is generalized as the poorest neighborhood in Houston.
  • Sunnyside is a predominately African-American community.
  • Uptown Houston is primarily anchored by the Houston Galleria. It is quoted as being "one of the world's greatest urban centers."
  • Westpark Area is on the edge of the city limits. It contains the bulk of Houston's Arabic community.
  • Meyerland is near the city of Bellaire and is considered the center of Houston's Jewish community.
  • Memorial City is about 15 miles west of downtown. It is the largest of a series of affluent municipalities separate but surrounded by the city of Houston known as the Villages, which include Hedwig Village, Bunker Hill, Hunters Creek, Piney Point Village, Hilshire Village, and Spring Valley.
  • The historic Houston Heights, near downtown, has the highest point of elevation in the city. It is a popular area for antique shopping.
  • Koreatown is located on Gessner north of I-10
  • Clear Lake City has NASA and a very large Asian community

Houston, being America's largest city without zoning laws, has grown in an unusual manner. Rather than a single downtown as the center of the city's employment, various other satellite downtowns or "employment centers" have sprung up all the city. Other than the actual Downtown, these employment centers include:
  • Greenway Plaza (aka the Midtown area), southwest of Downtown.
  • The Uptown/Galleria area, along Post Oak, which is the 14th largest business district in the nation.
  • Greenspoint, northwest.
  • Park 10 and the "Energy Corridor", west along I-10.
  • The Medical Center.

Zip codes in Houston range from 77002 to 77598.


Most Houstonians like to go to Galveston when they feel like they want to go to a beach close to home. Beach houses owned by Houstonians have sprung up in other cities along the shoreline to the Gulf of Mexico. Houstonians also go to Kemah for the Kemah Boardwalk, which has many seafood restaurants and local tourist attractions. Kemah is surrounded by Galveston Bay to the east and Clear Lake to the west.

Locations in Houston are generally classified as either being inside or outside Interstate 610, known as the 610 Loop. Inside the loop holds most of the city, including the Central business district and the cities of West University, Bellaire and Southside Place. The outerlying areas of Houston, as well as the airports and the suburbs and exurbs are outside the loop.

Locations within the Houston city limits that are inside the 610 Loop use the 713 area code. Those outside the loop that are within the city limits use the 281 or 832 area code. Areas far north, west, east and south of the inner-city also use 936 and/or 409.

The towns of Kingwood, Alief and Clear Lake City have recently become annexed into the city of Houston, increasing the city limit's population.

For a full list of the cities in the Houston area, see:


Houston has a
Los Angeles-style road network, complete with HOV lanes, which often get filled with vans and carpools. The dependence on cars causes various pollution problems, including ozone warnings. The ozone problems can get very bad if a temperature inversion occurs. Houston has been ranked as the most polluted city in the United States.

The 610 Loop circles the city of Houston and helps people go to work or school. 610 is quartered into the "North Loop", "South Loop", "West Loop", and "East Loop" by the locals.

Going north on Interstate 45 leads to Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth. Interstate 10 westbound leads to San Antonio, Texas, and eastbound leads to New Orleans, Louisiana and Baton Rouge. Highway 290 provides a direct route to Austin, Texas.

The Hardy Toll Road is popular on the commute between I-610 and Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Residents tend to refer to Freeways and Tollways by their names instead of their numbers.

The Portmanteau word "Eastex" comes from the words "East" and "Texas".

For a road map of Houston, click here

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, provides public transportation in the form of buses, trolleys, and lift vans. Uptown, METRO provides free service on the Uptown Shuttle. The city got the METRORail, a light rail service, on January 1, 2004. It runs primarily along Main Sreet from central Downtown Houston to the Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park. An expansion has been proposed to run the service all along the central Houston area, including Uptown. METRO hopes to have expanded the Light Rail to the 2 major airports, as well as the Bay Area and along the Southwest Freeway. This is Texas' second major light rail service, after DART's light rail service in Dallas, Texas.


Houston is served by George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), and Ellington Field (EFD).

List of Major Freeways


Houston had several growth spurts in relation to the Texas oil industry. Houston became a major port because of the downfall of
Galveston and the Houston Ship Channel. The 1920's had Houston's first growth spurt.

The city's second growth spurt occurred in the late 1970's, with the Arab Oil Embargo. Demand on Texas oil increased, and many people from the northeast came down to profit from the trade. When the embargo was lifted, the growth stopped. However, Pasadena still has its refineries, and the Port of Houston is among the busiest in the world. Houston has attempted to build a banking industry in the city, but all of the companies which had been started in Houston were merged with other companies nationwide. It still is vital to the region, but most of the banks operating there are not based in Houston. Real Estate is also a large business in the Houston area.

Houston is unique in being the largest American city without zoning regulations.

The city has the second lowest cost of living in comparison to other major U.S. cities. The housing in Houston is also one of the most affordable in the Nation.

Famous Events

  • Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
  • WorldFest
  • Houston International Festival
  • Texas Renaissance Festival
  • Houston Auto Show
  • CowParade
  • Shell Houston Open
  • Houston Greek Festival
  • Houston Egyptian Festival
  • Houston Japan Festival
  • Ballunar Liftoff Festival
  • BayouCity Arts Festival
  • Hewlett-Packard Houston Marathon

Houston in also the home of NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Reliant Astrodome and the world-renowned Alley Theatre.

List of Major Companies

This is a list of major companies headquartered in Houston and the Houston Metropolitan Area. Compaq was headquartered in Houston before it was bought out by Hewlett-Packard.

Imperial Sugar is based in nearby Sugar Land. Loch Energy is based in Humble.

People and culture of Houston

Houstonians are seen as the down-to-earth types. They are said to look more at the face value of someone and are more open than Dallasites. Many people currently living in Houston have come from other U.S. states or other countries worldwide. About 90 languages are spoken in the area. If someone is seen to be skirting the norms, but no harm was truly done, then many Houstonians wouldn't care about what that person did.

Houston has a very international flavor seeping around the city due to different ethnic groups, including Hispanics, African-Americans, ethnic Europeans from Germany, Greece, and France, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, and South Africans. Street signs are seen in Chinese and Vietnamese.

Several International festivals get hosted periodically throughout the year.

Because Houston and Dallas are both the major economic centers of the state, the two cities enjoy a friendly rivalry which causes many of the assets of one city to be compared to the assets of the other city. For example, although Dallas has more restaurants per person than even New York City, Houstonians eat out more often than residents of any other city in the United States.

Several Houston-based restaurants, such as Ninfa Laurenzo's Ninfa's Mexican resturant chain, and Kim Su Tran La's Kim Sơn Vietnamese restaurant chain, have become well known in Texas.

List of famous and infamous people raised in Houston


The influx of Hispanics is the chief reason that Houston is has a large Roman Catholic population. Protestantism is also widely practiced in the city. The Beth Yushuron Temple and about two others in the area are seen as a meeting place for the city's
Hebrew population. The influx of Asians is increasing the amount of Muslims in the city.

Law and Government

Houston is the county seat of Harris County, and a far western portion of it extends into Fort Bend County. The current mayor of Houston is Bill White, who is on his first term. A mayor, who is the executive branch of the city government, can be elected consecutively for three terms. City council members, who make up the legislative branch, are elected from nine districts in the city.

List of Mayors

See: List of Houston Mayors

Historical Events

  • 1836 - The Allen Brothers, John Kirby and Augustus Chapman found Houston.
  • June 5, 1837 - The city gets a city charter from the Texas legislature. It became the provisional capital of Texas.
  • 1839 - The capital moves to Austin, Texas. The dispute over where the state records should go would cause a conflict.
  • 1900's - Oil is discovered in Texas. A new industry will start.
  • 1902 - President Theodore Roosevelt approves a one-million dollar fund for the construction of the Houston Ship Channel.
  • 1914 - President Woodrow Wilson opens the Houston Ship Channel 74 years after the digging had started.
  • 1920's - The Texas oil boom causes people to move into the city, causing its first growth spurt.
  • 1937 - Houston Municipal Airport, which would later become William P. Hobby Airport, is opened.
  • 1963 - The Manned Spacecraft Center, which would become the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center opens.
  • 1969 - Houston Intercontinental Airport, nowadays George Bush Intercontinental Airport, is opened to the public.
  • 1970's - The Arab Oil Embargo causes demand for Texas oil to boom. People from the "Rust Belt" states like New York and Pennsylvania move into Houston.
  • 1978 - The headquarters of Continental Airlines move to Houston after buying out Texas International.
  • 1980's - The end of the Embargo causes the Houston growth bubble to burst.
  • 1996 - The city of Kingwood, Texas is annexed by Houston.
  • November 2001 - Enron is found to have accounting scandals. The company goes bankrupt.
  • Fall 2003 - Halliburton's headquarters move from Dallas, Texas to Houston.

Murders and disasters

Picture of the Reliant Astrodome

Sports Teams

The Houston Oilers were based in Texas, but moved to Memphis and later, Nashville, Tennessee, and became the Tennessee Titans. Houston also formerly had the Arena Football League team Houston Thunderbears, and the minor league Soccer team Houston Hotshots.

Museums not located in the Museum District

  • Menil Collection


Houston has a variety of newspapers, with the Houston Chronicle being read all across the South-Central United States. Houston also is home to the TV stations that serve the metro-area.

ABC-13 KTRK TV's Wayne Dolcefino released a controversial report that allegedly showed bad business practices of a charity called "Kid Care". Since then, the charity's donations dwindled, leaving the owner fuming.

List of Newspapers


Houston Independent School District is considered to be one of the best urban school districts in the United States. Rod Paige, the former superintendent, elevated the district to that level.

Colleges and Universities

Houston in film and TV

Part or all of these movies/shows take place in Houston and/or the Houston area

Though many movies are shot in the Houston area, the storyline does not include the story taking place in Houston.

North: The Woodlands, Conroe
West: Katy, Sugar Land Houston, Bellaire, West University, Southside Place, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Hobby Airport East: Baytown, Liberty
South: Galveston, Freeport, Brazoria

External Links