Fort Bend County, Texas facts for kids
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Fort Bend County
Fort Bend County Courthouse, Richmond, November 2008
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
|Named for||A blockhouse positioned in a bend of the Brazos River|
|Largest city||Sugar Land|
|• Total||885 sq mi (2,290 km2)|
|• Land||861 sq mi (2,230 km2)|
|• Water||24 sq mi (60 km2) 2.7%|
| • Estimate
|• Density||929.7/sq mi (358.96/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||9th, 22nd|
Fort Bend County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. The county was founded in 1837 and organized the next year. It is named for a blockhouse at a bend of the Brazos River. The community developed around the fort in early days.
The county seat is Richmond. The largest city located entirely within the county borders is Sugar Land. The largest city by population in the county is Houston; however, most of Houston's population is located in neighboring Harris County.
Fort Bend County is included in the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area. As of the 2020 census, the population was 822,779. In 2017, Forbes ranked it the fifth-fastest growing county in the United States.
In 2015, Fort Bend County became Texas's wealthiest county, with a median household income of $95,389 and a median family income of $105,944, surpassing Collin and Rockwall Counties since the 2000 census.
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Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Karankawa Indians. Mexican colonists had generally not reached this area, settling more in south Texas.
After Mexico achieved independence from Spain, Anglo-Americans started entering from the east. In 1822, a group of Stephen F. Austin's colonists, headed by William Travis, built a fort at the present site of Richmond. The fort was called "Fort Bend", since it was built in the bend of the Brazos River. The city of Richmond was incorporated under the Republic of Texas along with nineteen other towns in 1837. Fort Bend County was created from parts of Austin, Harris, and Brazoria counties in 1838.
Fort Bend developed a plantation economy based on cotton and, due to the high number of African-American slaves held as laborers, it was one of six majority-black counties in the state by the 1850s. In 1860 the slave population totaled 4,127, more than twice that of the 2,016 whites. There were very few free blacks, as Texas refused them entry.
While the area began to attract immigrants in the late 19th century, it continued as majority black during and after Reconstruction, when Republicans were elected to office. By the 1880s, most white residents belonged to the Democratic Party, but factional tensions were fierce, largely along racial lines. The Jaybirds, representing the majority of the whites, were struggling to regain control from the Woodpeckers, who were made up of some whites consistently elected to office by the majority of African-Americans; several had been former Republican officials during Reconstruction. Fort Bend County was the site of the Jaybird–Woodpecker War in 1888-1889. After a few murders were committed, the political feud culminated in a gun-battle at the courthouse on August 16, 1889 when several more people were killed and the Woodpeckers were routed from the seat of government.
Governor Lawrence Sullivan Ross sent in militia forces and declared martial law. With his support, the Jaybirds ordered a list of certain blacks and Woodpecker officials out of the county. The Jaybirds took over county offices and established a "white-only pre-primary," disenfranchising the African Americans from the only competitive contests in the county. This device lasted until 1950 when Willie Melton and Arizona Fleming won a lawsuit against the practice in United States District Court, though it was overturned on appeal. In 1953 they ultimately won their suit when the Jaybird primary was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in Terry v. Adams, the last of the white primaries cases.
20th century to present
While party alignments have changed since the early 20th century, with conservative whites now supporting the Republican Party, minority voting by minorities has been reviewed by the federal government under provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In April 2009, as part of a settlement with the United States Department of Justice, officials of Fort Bend County agreed to increase assistance to Spanish-speaking Latino voters in elections held in the county.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 885 square miles (2,290 km2), of which 861 square miles (2,230 km2) is land and 24 square miles (62 km2) (2.7%) is water.
- Waller County (north)
- Harris County (northeast)
- Austin County (northwest)
- Brazoria County (southeast)
- Wharton County (southwest)
From 1930 to 1950, the county showed a decline in the rate of expansion and even a decrease in population. This was a period when many African Americans migrated in the second wave of the Great Migration from Texas and other parts of the South to the West Coast, where a buildup in the defense industry provided more job opportunities. Other minorities settled in the county during its residential development, and African Americans are now a minority.
|U.S. Decennial Census
1850–2020 2010 2020
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||211,680||243,726||36.16%||29.62%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||123,267||167,964||21.06%||20.41%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||1,159||1,269||0.20%||0.15%|
|Asian alone (NH)||98,762||181,522||16.87%||22.06%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||174||276||0.03%||0.03%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||1,341||4,055||0.23%||0.49%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||10,025||25,387||1.71%||3.09%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||138,967||198,580||23.74%||24.14%|
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
Since the 1970s, Fort Bend County has been attracting people from all ethnic backgrounds. According to a 2001 Claritas study, it was the fifth-most diverse U.S. county, among counties with a population of 100,000 or more.
It is one of a growing number of U.S. counties with an ethnic plurality, with no single ethnic group forming a majority of the population. Fort Bend County also has the highest percentage of Asian Americans in the Southern United States; the largest groups are of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, and Filipino ancestry. By 2011, Fort Bend was ranked the fourth-most racially diverse county in the United States by USA Today. The newspaper based the ranking on calculating the probability that two persons selected at random would be of different ethnic groups or races. According to the USA Today methodology, the chance of people of being two different ethnic groups/races being selected was 75%. Karl Eschbach, a former demographer with the State of Texas, has said that many people from Houston neighborhoods and communities with clear racial identities, such as the East End, Sunnyside, and the Third Ward, moved to suburban areas that were too new to have established racial identities. Eschbach explained, "[a]s a large minority middle class started to emerge, Fort Bend was virgin territory that all groups could move to."
In 2020 Fort Bend County had the highest percentage of Asian Americans of any county in Texas. In 2019 Indian Americans make up almost 50% of the Asian Americans in the county, with the second and third largest subsets being Chinese Americans and Vietnamese Americans. From 2010 to 2020 the percentage of non-Hispanic white people declined by 4.8%, the Asian American community grew by 83,167 (83.7% increase), the percentage of Hispanic people increased by 42.9% and the percentage of black people increased by 35.9%.
Major Farm to Market Roads
The sole publicly owned airport in the county is Sugar Land Regional Airport in Sugar Land.
Privately owned airports for public use include:
- Houston Fort Bend Airport in an unincorporated area east of Beasley
- Houston Southwest Airport in Arcola
- Westheimer Air Park in an unincorporated area between Fulshear and Houston
Privately owned for private use:
- Cardiff Brothers Airport in an unincorporated area near Fulshear and Katy
- Dewberry Heliport is a general-aviation heliport (privately owned, for private use) in unincorporated areas between Fulshear and Katy.
The closest airport with regularly scheduled commercial service is Houston's William P. Hobby Airport in Harris County. Fort Bend County is also within the primary service area of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Fort Bend County officially created a department of public transportation in 2005 that provides commuter buses to Uptown, Greenway Plaza, and Texas Medical Center. It also provides demand-and-response buses to senior citizens and the general public that travel only in Fort Bend County. Parts of the county, such as Katy and Missouri City, participate in the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and are served by several park-and-ride routes.
The TTC-69 component (recommended preferred) of the once-planned Trans-Texas Corridor went through Fort Bend County.
The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority in Sugar Land manages and operates tolled portions of these toll roads operating in the county:
- Fort Bend Parkway
- Westpark Tollway
- Grand Parkway Toll Road
Cities (multiple counties)
- Houston (mostly in Harris County and a small part in Montgomery County)
- Katy (partly in Harris and Waller counties)
- Missouri City (small part in Harris County)
- Pearland (mostly in Brazoria County and a small part in Harris County)
- Stafford (small part in Harris County)
In contrast to greater Houston in general, Fort Bend County's economy is more diverse, with numerous service-sector jobs in healthcare, energy, education, hospitality, and other areas. Major companies with a presence in the county include Schlumberger, Minute Maid, Fluor, and Sunoco's logistics operations in Sugar Land. The Houston Business Journal reported in 2010 that the diversity of industries promoted decades of rapid population growth. After Memorial Hermann Hospital and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital opened facilities in Fort Bend County, already home to local facilities for Houston Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land, as well as locally based OakBend Medical Center in Richmond, many doctors moved their offices to the county. Compared to Montgomery County, which has experienced rapid growth in corporate employment following ExxonMobil's decision to move its greater Houston operations to an area directly south of The Woodlands, Fort Bend County has yet to experience significant corporate growth, though Schlumberger recently announced plans to move its North American headquarters to Sugar Land.
Public school districts
- Brazos Independent School District (formerly Wallis-Orchard ISD)
- Fort Bend Independent School District
- Katy Independent School District
- Lamar Consolidated Independent School District
- Needville Independent School District
- Stafford Municipal School District
Kendleton Independent School District closed in 2010.
- University of Houston Sugar Land campus
The Texas Legislature assigns these community college districts to the following:
- Houston Community College System: Katy ISD, Stafford MSD, and portions of FBISD in the Houston, Missouri City, and Pearland city limits
- Wharton County Junior College: The City of Sugar Land and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, Lamar CISD (including the former Kendleton ISD), Needville ISD, and Brazos ISD (stated in the legislation as Wallis-Orchard)
The legislation does not specify which community college district is for portions of FBISD outside of Sugarland and its ETJ and the cities of Houston, Missouri City, and Pearland.
- Texas State Technical College
Fort Bend County Libraries operates many libraries in the county.
Houston Public Library operates one branch in the county.
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