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Houston (Template:IPAc-en) is the fourth-largest city in the United States and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of Template:Convert. Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of the Template:Nowrap metropolitan area—the Template:Nowrap metropolitan area in the U.S. with a population of approximately 6.1 million.
Houston was founded on August 30, 1836, by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen on land near the banks of Template:Nowrap. 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 Template:Convert east of where the city was established. 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 located.
Rated as a beta world city, Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. Houston is also leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment; only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters in the city limits. The Port of Houston 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, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Houston Museum District. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene in the Theater District and offers year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.
- Main article: History of Houston
In August 1836, two real estate entrepreneurs from New York City, purchased Template:Convert 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 1836.
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 Bayou.
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.
In 1900, 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. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt 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.
When World War II started, tonnage 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. Ellington Field, initially built during World War I, was revitalized as an advanced training center for bombardiers and navigators. The M. D. Anderson 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 sector.
The 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 stadium.
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 Embargo.
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 Challenger disintegrated 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 as the city's first African American mayor.
In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped up to Template:Convert 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 third-largest ever U.S. bankruptcy during an investigation surrounding fabricated partnerships that were allegedly used to hide debt and inflate profits.
In August 2005, Houston became a shelter to more than 150,000 people from New Orleans who evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. One month later, approximately 2.5 million Houston area residents evacuated when Hurricane Rita approached the Gulf Coast, leaving little damage to the Houston area. This was the largest urban evacuation in the history of the United States. Template:-
- Main article: Geography of Houston
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of Template:Convert; this comprises Template:Convert of land and Template:Convert 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 prairie, 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 Template:Convert above sea level, and the highest point in far northwest Houston is about Template:Convert 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 Conroe.
Houston has four major bayous passing through 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 cemented sands up to several miles deep. The region's geology 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 salt dome 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 Template:Convert, including the Long Point-Eureka Heights Fault System 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.
- Main article: Climate of Houston
Houston's climate is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa in Köppen climate classification system). Spring supercell thunderstorms sometimes bring tornadoes 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 Mexico.
During the summer months, it is common for the temperature to reach over Template:Convert, with an average of 99 days per year above Template:Convert. 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 Template:Convert on September 4, 2000.
Winters in Houston are fairly temperate. The average high in January, the coldest month, is Template:Convert, while the average low is Template:Convert. Snowfall is generally rare. Recent snow events in Houston include a storm on December 24, 2004 when one inch (2.5 cm) fell and more recent snowfalls on December 10, 2008. However, more recently on December 4, 2009 an inch of snow fell in the city. This was the earliest snowfall ever recorded in Houston. In addition, it set another milestone marking the first time in recorded history that snowfall has occurred on two consecutive years, and marks the third accumulating snowfall occurring in the decade of 2000–2010. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Houston was Template:Convert on January 23, 1940. Houston receives a high amount of rainfall annually, averaging about 54 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 pollution.
Template:Further 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 business district 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 Template:Convert farther out.
Template:Wide image </center> Though 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, urban sprawl, and lack of pedestrian-friendliness on these policies, the city's land use has also been credited with having significant affordable housing, sparing Houston the worst effects of the 2008 real estate crisis. The city issued 42,697 building permits in 2008 and was ranked first in the list of healthiest housing markets for 2009.
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 Edit
- Main article: Politics of Houston
The city of Houston has a strong mayoral form of municipal government. Houston is a home rule city and all municipal elections in the state of Texas are nonpartisan. The City's elected officials are the mayor, city controller and 14 members of the city council. The mayor of Houston is Annise Parker—a Democrat elected on a nonpartisan ballot who is serving her first term as of January 2010. Houston's mayor serves as the city's chief administrator, executive officer, and official representative, and is responsible for the general management of the city and for seeing that all laws and ordinances 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 term limits were spearheaded by conservative political activist Clymer Wright.
The city council line-up of 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 districts.
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 and processing disbursements. The city's fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. Ronald Green is the city controller, serving his first term as of January 2010.
Houston is considered to be a politically divided city whose balance of power often sways between Republicans and Democrats. Much of the city's wealthier areas vote Republican, while the city's middle class, working class, and minority areas vote Democratic. According to the 2005 Houston Area Survey, 68 percent of non-Hispanic whites in Harris County are declared or favor Republicans while 89 percent of non-Hispanic blacks in the area are declared or favor Democrats. About 62 percent Hispanics (of any race) in the area are declared or favor Democrats. The city has often been known to be the most politically diverse city in Texas, a state known for being generally conservative. As a result the city is often a contested area in statewide elections.
- Main article: Economy of Houston
|The Top Fortune Companies|
in Houston for 2010
with Texas and U.S. ranks
|8||Enterprise GP Holdings||92|
|12||Plains All American Pipeline||128|
|18||National Oilwell Varco||182|
|41||Enbridge Energy Partners||364|
|51||El Paso Energy||447|
|52||Group 1 Automotive||457|
|Revenues for year ending before April 2010|
|Energy and oil (19 companies)|
|Source: Fortune |
Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. Renewable energy sources—wind and solar—are also growing 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 supermajor energy companies maintain a large base of operations in Houston (international headquarters of ConocoPhillips; US operational headquarters of Exxon-Mobil; US headquarters for international companies Shell Oil (US subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell located in London and The Hague, Netherlands), and BP whose international headquarters are in London, England). The headquarters of Shell Oil Company, the US affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell, is located at One Shell Plaza. While ExxonMobil maintains its global headquarters in Irving, Texas, its upstream and chemical divisions as well as most operational divisions, are located in Houston. Chevron has offices in Houston in a 40-story building originally 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 Oil Corporation, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Apache Corporation, and Citgo and alternative energy companies such as Horizon Wind Energy.
The Houston area 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, high oil and gasoline prices are beneficial for Houston's economy as many of its residents 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 the gross domestic product (GDP) of Belgium, Malaysia, Venezuela or Sweden. Only 21 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding 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 consists almost entirely of 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 2.8%.
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 trade 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 international community.
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 College Graduates, and ranked first on Forbes list of Best Cities to Buy a Home. In 2010, the city was rated the best city for shopping, according to Forbes.
- Main article: Demographics of Houston
Houston is a multicultural city, in part because of its many academic institutions and strong industries as well as being a major port city. Over ninety languages are spoken in the city. Houston has among the youngest populations in the nation, partly due to an influx of immigrants into Texas. The city has the third-largest Hispanic and third-largest Mexican population in the United States. It also has more Hispanics than any other city in Texas. An estimated 400,000 illegal aliens reside in the Greater Houston area. Houston has some of the largest Indian and Pakistani communities in the United States. The Nigerian community of Houston, estimated to be over 2.0% of the city's population, is the largest in the United States.
According to the 2010 Census, Whites made up 50.5% of Houston's population, of which 25.6% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 23.7% of Houston's population. American Indians made up 0.7% of Houston's population. Asians made up 6.0% of Houston's population while Pacific Islanders made up 0.1%. Individuals from some other race made up 15.2% of the city's population, of which 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 3.3% of the city's population. People of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 43.8% 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 30.8%.
There were 717,945 households out of which 33.1 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2 percent were married couples living together, 15.3 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3 percent were non-families. Twenty-nine percent of all households were made up of individuals and 6.2 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.39. The median house price was $115,961 in 2009.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.5 percent under the age of 18, 11.2 percent from 18 to 24, 33.8 percent from 25 to 44, 19.1 percent from 45 to 64, and 8.4 percent who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,616, and the median income for a family was $40,443. Males had a median income of $32,084 versus $27,371 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,101. Nineteen percent of the population and 16 percent of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 26.1 percent of those under the age of 18 and 14.3 percent of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
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 Chinese residents have Chinese and Vietnamese street signs, in addition to English ones. Houston has two Chinatowns: the original located in East Downtown, and the more recent one is in the southwest area of the city. The city has a Little Saigon in Midtown and Vietnamese businesses located in the southwest area of Houston's Chinatown. The Mahatma Gandhi District—a "Little India" community—exists along Hillcroft Avenue.
Houston has a large gay community concentrated primarily in and around Neartown 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. With the election of Annise Parker in 2009, Houston became the largest city in the United States to have an openly gay mayor.
- Main article: Culture of Houston
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 Rodeo, held over 20 days from late February to early March, which happens to be the largest annual Livestock Show and Rodeo anywhere in the world. Another large celebration is the annual night-time Houston Pride Parade, 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, and the Bayou City Art Festival, which is considered to be one of the top five art festivals in the United States.
Houston 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 Template:Nowrap "Magnolia City," and "H-Town." Template:-
Arts and theatre Edit
The Houston Theater District, located downtown, 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. Houston 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 (The Alley Theatre). Houston is also home to folk artists, art groups and various small progressive arts organizations. Houston attracts many touring Broadway acts, concerts, shows, and exhibitions for a variety of interests. Facilities in the Theater District include the Jones Hall—home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and Society for the Performing Arts—and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
The Museum District's cultural institutions and exhibits attract more than 7 million visitors a year. Notable facilities the 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 near the Museum District are The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.
Bayou Bend is a Template:Convert 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.
Venues across Houston regularly host local and touring rock, blues, country, dubstep, and Tejano musical acts. While Houston has never been a widely renowned for its music scene, Houston hip-hop has become a significant, independent music scene, influencing some larger Southern hip hop communities. Houston is also the home of chopped and screwed music.
Prominent artists from Houston include rock bands King's X and ZZ Top, sixties psychedelic rock band Red Krayola, folk-country singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, country and western singers Kenny Rogers and Clint Black, actors Hilary Duff, Randy and Dennis Quaid, Jo Beth Williams, Shelley Duvall and Patrick Swayze, and indie piano rock band Blue October. Houston also had fledgling blues and folk scenes in the sixties and seventies. Notable blues performers included Lightnin' Hopkins, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Texas" Johnny Brown, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, and Joe "Guitar" Hughes; many of whom recorded with hometown music label Peacock Records. Folk artists playing at Anderson Fair and the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in the sixties and seventies included longtime residents Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and Guy Clark. The eighties and nineties produced punk and alternative rock groups The Judy's, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, AK-47, Verbal Abuse, Really Red, Culturcide, Dresden 45, the Pain Teens and the outside musician Jandek. The new millennium has seen a continuance of Houston Noise Bands with contemporary performers Jana Hunter and Indian Jewelry.
Tourism and recreation Edit
The Theater District is a 17-block area in the center of downtown Houston that is home to the Bayou Place entertainment complex, restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. Bayou Place is a large multilevel building containing full-service restaurants, bars, live music, billiards, and art house films. The Houston Verizon Wireless Theater stages live concerts, stage plays, and stand-up comedy.
Space Center Houston is the official visitors’ center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The Space Center has many interactive exhibits including moon rocks, a shuttle simulator, and presentations about the history of NASA's manned space flight program. Other tourist attractions include the Galleria (Texas's largest shopping mall located in the Uptown District), Old Market Square, the Downtown Aquarium, and Sam Houston Race Park. SplashTown Waterpark Houston is a water park located north of Houston. Earth Quest Adventures is a theme park planned to open in 2012/2013.
Houston is home to 337 parks including Hermann Park, Terry Hershey Park, Lake Houston Park, Memorial Park, Tranquility Park, Sesquicentennial Park, Discovery Green, and Sam Houston Park. Within Hermann Park are the Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Sam Houston Park 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, Template:Convert The city also has over 200 additional green spaces—totaling over Template:Convert that are managed by the city—including the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is a public skatepark owned and operated by the city of Houston, and is one of the largest skateparks in Texas consisting of 30,000 (2,800 m2) square foot in-ground facility. The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park—located in the Uptown District of the city—serves as a popular tourist attraction, weddings, and various celebrations.
- Main article: Sports in Houston
Houston has sports teams for every major professional league except the NHL. The Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Dynamo (MLS), Houston Aeros (AHL), Houston Wranglers (WTT), Houston Red Storm (ABA), Houston Energy (IWFL), Houston Leones (PDL), H-Town Texas Cyclones (also IWFL), Houston Power (WFA), and the Houston Lightning (SIFL) all call Houston home.
Minute Maid Park (home of the Astros) and Toyota Center (home of the Rockets and Aeros), are located 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 include Hofheinz Pavilion, Reliant Arena (former home of the WNBA's Houston Comets, now home to the Lightning), and Robertson Stadium (both used for University of Houston collegiate sports and the Houston Dynamo), and Rice Stadium (home of the Rice University Owls football team). The now infrequently used Astrodome hosted WWE's WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001, setting an attendance record of almost 68,000, and Reliant Stadium hosted WrestleMania XXV in 2009. A soccer-specific stadium for the Houston Dynamo, to be located just east of the George R. Brown Convention Center/Highway 59, is expected to be finished by 2012.
Houston has hosted the 19681986 Major League All-Star Game and 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Games, the 2000 IHL All-Star Game, the 2005 Big 12 Conference football championship game, the 1989 NBA All-Star Game, the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships from 2001 to 2006, and the Tennis Masters Cup in 2003 and 2004, as well as the annual Shell Houston Open golf tournament. In 2009, Houston hosted the final official event in the LPGA golf season, the LPGA Tour Championship. The city hosts the annual NCAA College Baseball Minute Maid Classic every February and NCAA football's Texas Bowl in December. Houston has hosted the Super Bowl championship game twice: Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium in 1974 and Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in 2004. In 2011, Houston hosted the Final Four of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium.
From 1998 to 2001, the CART auto racing series annually held 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 Reliant Park. Champ Car merged with rival Indy Racing League (IRL) in 2008, and discontinued the Houston race. Houston Raceway Park is located outside Houston near Baytown, and hosts the NHRA and other forms of auto racing. Template:-
The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area is served by a public television station, KUHT, and public radio station, KUHF. Both stations are owned by and licensed to the University of Houston System. KUHT HoustonPBS (Channel 8) is a PBS member station and the first public television station in the United States, and KUHF Houston Public Radio (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.
Houston is served by the Houston Chronicle, its only major daily newspaper with wide distribution. The Hearst Corporation, which owns and operates the Houston Chronicle, 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 of Houston. The only other major publication to serve the city is the Houston Press—a free alternative weekly with a weekly readership of more than 300,000.
One of the leading media personalities is KTRK-TV's Dave Ward, the longest running anchor at any Houston station (40 years). Ron Stone anchored Channel 2 News for 20 years, 1972 to 1992. Ray 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. In the late 1960s, Miller hired Kay Bailey Hutchison—a Galveston native as the first newswoman in Texas who later served in the Texas House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Template:-
- Main article: Education in Houston
There are 17 school districts serving the city. The Houston Independent School District (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 charter schools 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 Schools offer education from a variety of different religious as well as secular viewpoints. The Houston area Catholic schools are operated by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Colleges and universities Edit
Four separate and distinct degree-granting state universities are located within the city of Houston: The University of Houston, the University of Houston–Clear Lake, the University of Houston–Downtown, and Texas Southern University.
The University of Houston (UH) is a nationally-ranked, Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. The institution (formerly known as University of Template:Nowrap) is the third-largest university in Texas, with over 38,750 students on a 667-acre campus in southeast Houston. The Princeton Review has named UH as one of America's best colleges. With nearly 320 degree programs and over 40 research centers and institutes, it is one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the country. Its law school, the University of Houston Law Center, ranked No. 55 (top-tier) 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.
Located adjacent to NASA's Johnson Space Center, the University of Houston–Clear Lake (UHCL) is an upper-level university with nearly 90 degree programs and an enrollment of over 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is primarily an undergraduate institution of 13,000 students and it offers nearly 50 degree programs. UHCL and UHD are not branch campuses of UH, but are separate and distinct degree-granting universities.
Within the Houston's historic Third Ward community is Texas Southern University (TSU). Founded in 1927, it is one of the largest historically black colleges and universities in the United States. In addition, TSU has specialized professional academic programs in pharmacy and law.
Houston is home to many private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized research university. Template:Nowrap 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 Houston Baptist University and University of St. Thomas. The South Texas College of Law, founded is 1923, is a private and oldest law school in Houston located in Downtown.
There are three community college districts with campuses in and around 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 College. Template:-
Healthcare and medicine Edit
- Main article: Texas Medical Center
Houston is the seat of the internationally renowned Texas Medical Center, which contains the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions. All 47 member institutions of the Texas Medical Center are non-profit organizations. They 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 13 hospitals and two specialty institutions, two medical schools, four nursing schools, and schools of dentistry, 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 are performed at the Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world.
Some of the academic and research health institutions at the center include MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center, Memorial Hermann Hospital, The Methodist Hospital, Texas Children's Hospital, and University of Houston College of Pharmacy. The Baylor College of Medicine has annually been considered within the top ten medical schools in the nation; likewise, the MD 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 Menninger Clinic, a renowned psychiatric treatment center, is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital System. With hospital locations nationwide and headquarters in Houston, the Triumph Healthcare hospital system is the third largest long term acute care provider nationally.
- Main article: Transportation in Houston
The predominant form of transportation in Houston is the automobile with 71.7 percent of residents driving alone to work This is facilitated through Houston's freeway system, comprising Template:Convert of freeways and expressways in a ten-county metropolitan area. Its highway system uses a hub-and-spoke freeway structure serviced by multiple loops. The innermost loop is Interstate 610, which encircles downtown, the medical center, and many core neighborhoods with around a Template:Convert diameter. Beltway 8 and its freeway core, the Sam Houston Tollway, form the middle loop at a diameter of roughly Template:Convert. A proposed highway project, State Highway 99 (Grand Parkway), would form a third loop outside of Houston. As of 2010, 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 superhighway that 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 Alvin Freeway.
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 region. 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, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, and the City of Houston) together to share their resources.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (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 ("Red Line") running about Template:Convert from the University of Template:Nowrap (UHD), which traverses through the Texas Medical Center and terminates at Reliant Park. METRO is currently in the design phase of a 10-year expansion plan that will add five more lines to the existing system.
Amtrak, the national rail passenger system, provides service to Houston via the Template:Amtrak lines (Los Angeles–New Orleans), 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 2008.
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. The Federal Aviation Administration 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. Bush Intercontinental currently ranks third in the United States for non-stop domestic and international service with 182 destinations. In 2006, the United States Department of Transportation named George Bush Intercontinental Airport the fastest-growing of the top ten airports in the United States. Houston is the headquarters of Continental Airlines and Bush 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 William 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 International. Houston's third municipal airport is Ellington Airport (a former U.S. Air Force base) used by military, government, NASA, and general aviation sectors.
- Main article: Architecture of Houston
Houston has the third tallest skyline in North America and one of the top 10 in the world. A seven-mile (11 km) system of tunnels and skywalks link downtown buildings containing shops and restaurants, enabling pedestrians to avoid summer heat and rain while walking between buildings.
In the 1960s, Downtown Houston consisted of a collection of mid-rise office structures. Downtown was on the threshold of an energy industry led boom in 1970. 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, Template:Convert-tall JPMorgan Chase Tower (formerly the Texas Commerce Tower), completed in 1982. It is the tallest structure in Texas, 10th tallest building in the United States and the 30th tallest skyscraper in the world, based on height to roof. In 1983, the 71-floor, Template:Convert-tall Wells Fargo Plaza (formerly Allied Bank Plaza) was completed, becoming the second-tallest building in Houston and Texas. 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 prominent instances of an edge city. The tallest building in Uptown is the 64-floor, Template:Convert-tall, Philip Johnson and John Burgee designed landmark Williams Tower (known as the Transco Tower until 1999). At the time of construction, it was believed to the be the world's tallest skyscraper outside of a central business district. The Uptown District is also home to buildings designed by noted architects I. M. Pei, César Pelli, and Philip Johnson. In the late 1990s and early 2000s decade, there was a mini-boom of mid-rise and high-rise residential tower 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 office space.
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 was ranked in 2005 to be third among U.S. cities with a population of over 1,000,000. This ranking could be higher as KHOU-TV found the Houston Police Department under-counted 2005 homicides; counting two more would have bumped up the rate to second place.
While nonviolent crime in the city dropped by 2 percent in 2005 compared to 2004, homicides rose by 23.5 percent. Since 2005, Houston has experienced a significant rise in crime, which the Houston Police Department partly attributed 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. The Times-Picayune disputed that Katrina refugees were to blame for the rise in crime, citing statistics that crime was rising in Houston before their arrival. City officials claimed that though the majority of refugees were law-abiding citizens, Houston's population swelled by 10 percent "virtually overnight," reducing the ratio of police officers to citizens.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice also disputed the assertion that Katrina refugees were the cause of rising crime in Houston around the mid-to-late 2000s decade, and instead pointed out factors such as growing population, rising unemployment, and decreased police patrol.
In 2007, Houston ranked first for auto-theft in the state of Texas when more than 31,000 motor vehicles were stolen in the metropolitan area.
In the early 1970s, Houston, Pasadena and several coastal towns were the site of the 'Houston Mass Murders' which at the time were the deadliest case of serial killing in American history. Template:-
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