Houston is the most populous city inTexas, and the fourth most populous city in the United States. With a census-estimated 2013 population of 2.19 million people within a land area of 599.6 square miles (1,553 km2),Houston is the largest city in the Southern United States, the seat of Harris County, andfifth-most populated metropolitan area in the United States.
Houston was founded in 1836 on land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou(now known as Allen's Landing) and incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837. The city was named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas and had commanded and won at the Battle of San Jacinto 25 miles (40 km) 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.
Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. It is also leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment; only New York Cityis home to more Fortune 500 headquarters. The Port of Houstonranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled.Nicknamed theSpace City, Houston is a global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine and research. The city has a population from various ethnic and religious backgrounds and a large and growing international community. Houston is considered to be themost diverse city in Texas and the United States. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the 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.
|City of Houston|
|Nickname(s): Space City (official),|
Location of Houston city limits in and around Harris County
Houston was incorporated in 1837 under the ward system of representation. The ward designation is the progenitor of the eleven current-day geographically oriented 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 5 miles (8.0 km) farther out.
Though Houston is the largest city in the United States without formal zoning regulations, it has developed similarly to otherSun 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,Memorial City, Energy Corridor, Westchase, and Greenspoint.
Houston has the third tallest skyline in North America and twelfth tallest in the world, as of 2011. 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, 1,002-foot (305 m)-tall JPMorgan Chase Tower (formerly the Texas Commerce Tower), completed in 1982. It is the tallest structure in Texas, 15th tallest building in the United States, and the 85th tallest skyscraper in the world, based on highest architectural feature. In 1983, the 71-floor, 992-foot (302 m)-tall Wells Fargo Plaza (formerly Allied Bank Plaza) was completed, becoming the second-tallest building in Houston and Texas. Based on highest architectural feature, it is the 17th tallest in the United States and the 95th tallest in the world. In 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, 901-foot (275 m)-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 be the world's tallest skyscraper outside of a central business district. The new 20-story Skanska building and BBVA Compass Plaza are the newest office buildings built in the Galleria area after thirty years. 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. Since 2000 more than 30 high-rise buildings have gone up in Houston; all told, 72 high-rises tower over the city, which adds up to about 8,300 units. 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.
The Niels Esperson Building stood as the tallest building in Houston from 1927 to 1929.
The JPMorgan Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas and the tallest 5-sided building in the world.
The Williams Tower is the tallest building in the U.S. outside of a central business district.
JPMorgan Chase Tower in Houston, Texas is the tallest composite building in the world
Located in the American South, 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 early to late March, is the largest annual livestock show and rodeo 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 "Bayou City", "Clutch City", "Magnolia City", "New Houston" (a tribute to the cultural contributions of New Orleans natives who left their city during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina catastrophe), and "H-Town".
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 include The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, theContemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Holocaust Museum Houston, and theHouston Zoo.Located near the Museum District are The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.
Bayou Bend is a 14-acre (5.7 ha) 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.
The National Museum of Funeral History is located in Houston near the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The museum houses the original Popemobile used by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s along with numerous hearses, embalming displays and information on famous funerals.
Venues across Houston regularly host local and touring rock, blues, country, dubstep, and Tejano musical acts. While Houston has never been widely known for its music scene, Houston hip-hop has become a significant, independent music scene that is influential nationwide.
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 Sundance Cinema. The Bayou Music Center 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.
Of worthy mention are Houston's current Chinatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District. Both areas offer a picturesque view of Houston's multicultural makeup. Restaurants, bakeries, traditional-clothing boutiques and specialty shops can be found in both areas.
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. There is a proposal to open the city's first botanic garden at Herman Brown Park.
Of the 10 most populous U.S. cities, Houston has the most total area of parks and green space, 56,405 acres (228 km2). The city also has over 200 additional green spaces—totaling over 19,600 acres (79 km2) 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 theUptown District of the city—serves as a popular tourist attraction, weddings, and various celebrations. A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Houston the 23rd most walkable of the 50 largest cities in the United States. Wet'n'Wild SplashTown is awater park located north of Houston. A 640-acre theme park, called the Grand Texas Theme Park, will open in 2015 and is located near Houston in New Caney, Texas.
The Bayport Cruise Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel will become port of call for both Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line in 2013-2014.
Houston has sports teams for every major professional league except the National Hockey League (NHL). The Houston Astros are a Major League Baseball (MLB)expansion team formed in 1962 (known as the "Colt .45s" until 1965) that made oneWorld Series appearance in 2005. The Houston Rockets are a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise based in Houston since 1971. The Rockets have won two NBA Championships: in 1994 and 1995. The Houston Texans are a National Football League (NFL) expansion team formed in 2002. The Houston Dynamo are a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise that has been based in Houston since 2006. The Houston Dash play in the National Women's Soccer League.
Minute Maid Park (home of the Astros) andToyota Center (home of the Rockets), are located in downtown Houston. Houston has the NFL's first retractable-roof stadium with natural grass, NRG Stadium (home of theTexans). Minute Maid Park is also a retractable-roof stadium. Toyota Center also has the largest screen for an indoor arena in the United States built to coincide with the arena's hosting of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. BBVA Compass Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium for the Dynamo and Dash, located in East Downtown. In addition, NRG Astrodome was the first indoor stadium in the world, built in 1965. Other sports facilities includeHofheinz Pavilion (Houston Cougars basketball), Rice Stadium (Rice Owls football), and Reliant Arena. TDECU Stadium is where the University of Houston Houston Cougars football team plays.
Houston has hosted several major sports events: the 1968, 1986 and 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Games; the1989, 2006 and 2013 NBA All-Star Games; Super Bowl VIII and Super Bowl XXXVIII, as well as hosting the 2005 World Seriesand 1981, 1986, 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals, winning the latter two. Super Bowl LI is currently slated to be hosted in NRG Stadium in 2017.
The city has hosted several major professional and college sporting events, including the annual Houston Open golf tournament. Houston hosts the annual NCAA College Baseball Classic every February and NCAA football's Texas Bowl in December.
The Grand Prix of Houston, an annual auto race on the IndyCar Series circuit is held on a 1.7-mile temporary street circuit in Reliant Park. The October 2013 event was held using a tweaked version of the 2006-2007 course. The event has a 5-year race contract through 2017 with IndyCar.