Houston facts

(Redirected from Houston, Texas)
Houston, Texas
City
City of Houston
Clockwise from top: Sam Houston monument, Downtown Houston, Houston Ship Channel, The Galleria, University of Houston, and the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center
Clockwise from top: Sam Houston monument, Downtown Houston, Houston Ship Channel, The Galleria, University of Houston, and the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center
Flag of Houston, Texas
Flag
Official seal of Houston, Texas
Seal
Location of Houston city limits in and around Harris County
Location of Houston city limits in and around Harris County
Country  United States
Counties Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery
Incorporated June 5, 1837
Named for Sam Houston
Government
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Body Houston City Council
 • Mayor Sylvester Turner (D)
Area
 • City 667 sq mi (1,625.2 km2)
 • Land 639.1 sq mi (1,642.1 km2)
 • Water 27.9 sq mi (72.3 km2)
 • Metro 10,062 sq mi (26,060 km2)
Elevation 80 ft (32 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 2,099,451
 • Estimate (2015) 2,296,224
 • Rank US: 4th
 • Density 3,662/sq mi (1,414/km2)
 • Urban 4,944,332 (7th U.S.)
 • Metro 6,313,158 (5th U.S.)
 • Demonym Houstonian
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Zip code 770XX, 772XX (P.O. Boxes)
Area code(s) 713, 832, 281, 346
FIPS code 48-35000
GNIS feature ID 1380948
Interstates I-10.svg I-45.svg I-69.svg I-610.svg
U.S. Routes US 59.svg US 90.svg US 290.svg
Website houstontx.gov

Houston (Listeni/ˈhjuːstən/ HYOO-stən) is the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States. With a census-estimated 2014 population of 2.239 million within an area of 667 square miles (1,730 km2), it also is the largest city in the southern United States and the seat of Harris County. Located in Southeast Texas near the Gulf of Mexico, it is the principal city of Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land, which is the fifth-most populated metropolitan area in the United States.

Houston was founded on August 28, 1836, 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-20th 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. Leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment, Houston has more Fortune 500 headquarters within its city limits than any city except for New York City. The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. Nicknamed the "Space 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 the most diverse city in Texas and has been described as the most diverse in 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.

History

Historical affiliations

Spanish Empire 1769–1821
First Mexican Empire 1821–1823
United Mexican States 1823–1836
Republic of Texas 1836–1846
United States 1846–present

In August 1836, two real estate entrepreneurs from New York, Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen, purchased 6,642 acres (26.88 km2) 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. The great majority of slaves in Texas came with their owners from the older slave states. Sizable numbers, however, came through the domestic slave trade. New Orleans was the center of this trade in the Deep South, but slave dealers were in Houston. Thousands of enslaved African Americans lived near the city before the Civil War. Many of them near the city worked on sugar and cotton plantations, while most of those in the city limits had domestic and artisan jobs. 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.

Old map-Houston-1873
Houston, c. 1873

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.

Union Station, Houston, Texas
Union Station, Houston, Texas (postcard, c. 1911)

In 1900, after Galveston was struck by a devastating hurricane, efforts to make Houston into a viable deep-water port were accelerated. The following year, the discovery of oil 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. African Americans formed a large part of the city's population, numbering 23,929 people, which was nearly one-third of the residents.

President Woodrow Wilson opened the deep-water Port of Houston in 1914, seven years after digging began. By 1930, Houston had become Texas' most populous city and Harris County the most populous county. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported Houston's population as 77.5% white and 22.4% black.

Downtown Houston TX 1927
Downtown Houston, c. 1927

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 by the defense industry during the war. Ellington Field, initially built during World War I, was revitalized as an advanced training center for bombardiers and navigators. The Brown Shipbuilding Company was founded in 1942 to build ships for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Due to the boom in defense jobs, thousands of new workers migrated to the city, both blacks and whites competing for the higher-paying jobs. President Roosevelt had established a policy of nondiscrimination for defense contractors, and blacks gained some opportunities, especially in shipbuilding, although not without resistance from whites and increasing social tensions that erupted into occasional violence. Economic gains of blacks who entered defense industries continued in the postwar years.

In 1945, the M.D. Anderson Foundation formed the Texas Medical Center. After the war, Houston's economy reverted to being primarily port-driven. In 1948, the city annexed several unincorporated areas, more than doubling its size. Houston proper began to spread across the region.

In 1950, the availability of air conditioning provided impetus for many companies to relocate to Houston, where wages were lower than the North; this resulted in an economic boom and produced a key shift in the city's economy toward the energy sector.

Ashburn's Houston City Map
Ashburn's Houston City Map (c. 1956)
Challenger Ferry Flight Flyover of Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
The space shuttle Challenger atop its Boeing 747 SCA, flying over Johnson Space Center, 1983

The increased production of the expanded 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). This was the stimulus for the development of 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 had a population boom as people from the Rust Belt states moved to Texas in large numbers. The new residents came for numerous employment opportunities in the petroleum industry, created as a result of the Arab oil embargo. With the increase in professional jobs, Houston has become a destination for many college-educated persons, including African Americans in a reverse Great Migration from northern areas.

In 1997, Houstonians elected Lee P. Brown as the city's first African American mayor.

In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped up to 40 inches (1,000 mm) 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, about 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. In September 2008, Houston was hit by Hurricane Ike. As many as 40% refused to leave Galveston Island because they feared the type of traffic problems that had happened after Hurricane Rita.

During the floods in 2015 and 2016, parts of the city were covered in several inches of water.

In 2017, Houston hosted Super Bowl LI. This is the third Super Bowl for the city, with the last games being held in 1974 and 2004.

Geography

Large Houston Landsat
A simulated-color image of Houston

Houston is located 165 miles (266 km) east of Austin, 112 miles (180 km) west of the Louisiana border, and 250 miles (400 km) south of Dallas. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 656.3 square miles (1,700 km2); this comprises 634.0 square miles (1,642 km2) of land and 22.3 square miles (58 km2) covered by water. The Piney Woods are north of Houston. 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 resembles the Deep South, and are all still visible in surrounding areas. The flatness of the local terrain, when combined with urban sprawl, has made flooding a recurring problem for the city. Downtown stands about 50 feet (15 m) above sea level, and the highest point in far northwest Houston is about 125 feet (38 m) 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, Lake Conroe, and Lake Livingston. The city owns surface water rights for 1.20 billion gallons of water a day in addition to 150 million gallons a day of groundwater.

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 Houston Heights community northwest of Downtown and then towards Downtown; Brays 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.

Geology

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 marine 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 310 miles (500 km), including the Long Point–Eureka Heights fault system which runs through the center of the city. No significant historically recorded earthquakes have occurred in Houston, but researchers do not discount the possibility of such quakes having occurred in the deeper past, nor occurring in the future. Land in some areas southeast of Houston is sinking because water has been pumped out of the ground for many years. It may be associated with slip along the 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.

Climate

Allison Flood Houston
Allen's Landing after Tropical Storm Allison, June 2001

Houston's climate is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa in the Köppen climate classification system), typical of the lower South. While not located in "Tornado Alley", like much of the rest of Texas, spring supercell thunderstorms sometimes bring tornadoes to the area. Prevailing winds are from the south and southeast during most of the year, which bring heat and moisture from the nearby Gulf of Mexico.

During the summer, temperatures commonly reach over 90 °F (32 °C), with an average of 106.5 days per year, including a majority from June to September, with a high of 90 °F (32 °C) or above and 4.6 days at or over 100 °F (38 °C). However, humidity usually yields a higher heat index. Summer mornings average over 90% relative humidity. Although sea breezes are present, they don't offer substantial relief, except in the southeastern areas of the city closer to the Gulf. To cope with the strong humidity and heat, people use air conditioning in nearly every vehicle and building. In 1980, Houston was described as the "most air-conditioned place on earth". Officially, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Houston is 109 °F (43 °C), which was reached both on September 4, 2000, and August 28, 2011.

Houston has mild winters in contrast to most areas of the United States. In January, the normal mean temperature at Intercontinental Airport is 53.1 °F (11.7 °C), while that station has an average of 13 days with a low at or below freezing. Snowfall is rare. Recent snow events in Houston include a storm on December 24, 2004 when 1.0 in (2.5 cm) of snow accumulated in parts of the metro area. Falls of at least 1.0 in (25 mm) on both December 10, 2008, and December 4, 2009, marked the first time measurable snowfall had occurred in two consecutive years in the city's recorded history. The coldest temperature officially recorded in Houston was 5 °F (−15 °C) on January 18, 1930. Houston has historically received an ample amount of rainfall, averaging about 49.8 in (1,260 mm) annually per 1981–2010 normals. Localized flooding often occurs, owing to the extremely flat topography and widespread typical clay-silt prairie soils, which do not drain quickly.

Houston has excessive ozone levels and is routinely 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 sixth on the "Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities" in 2014. The industries located along the ship channel are a major cause of the city's air pollution. In 2006, Houston's air quality was comparable to that of Los Angeles.


Cityscape

Houston was incorporated in 1837 under the ward system of representation. The ward designation is the progenitor of the 11 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 antedate 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 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, Memorial City, Energy Corridor, Westchase, and Greenspoint.

The western view of Downtown Houston skyline
Northwestern view of the Texas Medical Center skyline
The Uptown Houston skyline

Architecture

Three Eras - Houston
Four eras of buildings: Texas Company Annex (1910s), JPMorgan Chase Building (1920s), Pennzoil Place (1970s), and Bank of America Center (1980s)
See also: List of tallest buildings in Houston

Houston has the fourth-tallest skyline in North America (after New York City, Chicago, and Toronto) and 12th-tallest in the world, as of 2014. A seven-mile (11 km) system of tunnels and skywalks links 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 midrise office structures. Downtown was on the threshold of an energy industry–led boom in 1970. A succession of skyscrapers was 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 midrise 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 Uptown after 30 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, a mini-boom of midrise and highrise residential tower construction occurred, 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.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 2,396
1860 4,845 102.2%
1870 9,332 92.6%
1880 16,513 77.0%
1890 27,557 66.9%
1900 44,633 62.0%
1910 78,800 76.6%
1920 138,276 75.5%
1930 292,352 111.4%
1940 384,514 31.5%
1950 596,163 55.0%
1960 938,219 57.4%
1970 1,232,802 31.4%
1980 1,595,138 29.4%
1990 1,630,553 2.2%
2000 1,953,631 19.8%
2010 2,100,263 7.5%
Est. 2015 2,296,224 17.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
2011 estimate
Race and ethnicity 2010- Houston
Map of racial distribution in Houston, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)

Houston is multicultural, in part because of its many academic institutions and strong industries, as well as being a major port city. Over 90 languages are spoken in the city. It has among the youngest populations in the nation, partly due to an influx of immigrants into Texas. An estimated 400,000 illegal aliens reside in the Houston area.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, whites made up 51% of Houston's population; 26% of the total population was non-Hispanic Whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 25% of Houston's population. American Indians made up 0.7% of the population. Asians made up 6% (1.7% Vietnamese, 1.3% Chinese, 1.3% Indian, 0.9% Pakistani, 0.4% Filipino, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Japanese), 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. At the 2000 Census, 1,953,631 people inhabited the city, 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, 6.3% Asian, 0.7% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 16.5% from some other race, and 3.1% from two or more races. In addition, Hispanics made up 37.4% of Houston's population, while non-Hispanic Whites made up 30.8%, down from 62.4% in 1970.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,000, and for a family was $40,000. Males had a median income of $32,000 versus $27,000 for females. The per capita income was $20,000. About 19% of the population and 16% of families were below the poverty line. Of the total population, 26% of those under the age of 18 and 14% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 73% of the population of the city identified themselves as Christians, with 50% professing attendance at a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant, and 19% professing Roman Catholic beliefs. while 20% claim no religious affiliation. The same study says that other religions (including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 7% of the population

Racial composition 2010 1990 1970
White 50.5% 52.7% 73.4%
—Non-Hispanic whites 25.6% 40.6% 62.4%
Black or African American 23.7% 28.1% 25.7%,
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 43.7% 27.6% 11.3%
Asian 6.0% 4.1% 0.4%

Culture

See also: List of events in Houston
Porsche 356 Art Car
Houston Art Car Parade

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, and 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", and "H-Town".

The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo held inside the NRG Stadium
The George R. Brown Convention Center regularly holds various kinds of conventions.

Arts and theater

Hobbycenter
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
MFA houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
HMNS
Houston Museum of Natural Science

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, Theatre Under the Stars). 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, 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 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.

Tourism and recreation

Discovery green
Discovery Green park in downtown
Houston Chinatown shopping centers east of Beltway 8 (Dec 2013)
Shopping centers in Chinatown

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.

Galleriawaterfall
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park in Uptown

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. A proposal has been made 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 a 30,000-ft2 (2,800 m2)in-ground facility. The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park—located in the Uptown District of the city—serves as a popular tourist attraction and for 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 a water park located north of Houston.

The Bayport Cruise Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel is port of call for both Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Sister cities

The Houston Office of Protocol and International Affairs is the city's liaison to Houston's sister cities and to the national governing organization, Sister Cities International. Through their official city-to-city relationships, these volunteer associations promote people-to-people diplomacy and encourage citizens to develop mutual trust and understanding through commercial, cultural, educational, and humanitarian exchanges.

Images


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