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Odessa, Texas
City of Odessa
Downtown Odessa, Texas in 2020
Downtown Odessa, Texas in 2020
Official seal of Odessa, Texas
Location in the state of Texas
Location in the state of Texas
Country  United States
State  Texas
Counties Ector, Midland
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 51.36 sq mi (133.02 km2)
 • Land 51.08 sq mi (132.29 km2)
 • Water 0.28 sq mi (0.72 km2)
2,900 ft (884 m)
 • Total 114,428
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,414.62/sq mi (932.29/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 432
FIPS code 48-53388
GNIS feature ID 1343067

Odessa is a city in and the county seat of Ector County, Texas, United States. It is located primarily in Ector County, although a small section of the city extends into Midland County. Odessa's population was 114,428 at the 2020 census, making it the 28th-most populous city in Texas; It is the principal city of the Odessa metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Ector County. The metropolitan area is also a component of the larger Midland–Odessa combined statistical area, which had a 2010 census population of 278,801; a recent report from the United States Census Bureau estimates that the combined population as of July 2015 is 320,513. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Odessa as the third-fastest-growing small city in the United States. In 1948 Odessa was also the home of First Lady Barbara Bush, and the onetime home of former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Former President George H.W. Bush has been quoted as saying "At Odessa we became Texans and proud of it."


Odessa is said to have been named after Odessa, Ukraine, because of the local shortgrass prairie's resemblance to Ukraine's steppe landscape.


Odessa was founded in 1881 as a water stop and cattle-shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway. The first post office opened in 1885. Odessa became the county seat of Ector County in 1891 when the county was first organized. It was incorporated as a city in 1927, after oil was discovered in Ector County on the Connell Ranch southwest of Odessa.

With the opening of the Penn Field in 1929, and the Cowden Field in 1930, oil became a major draw for new residents. In 1925, the population was just 750; by 1929, it had risen to 5,000. For the rest of the twentieth century the city's population and economy grew rapidly during each of a succession of oil booms (roughly in the 1930s–50s, 1970s and 2010s), often with accompanying contractions during the succeeding busts (particularly in the 1960s and 1980s).


Odessa is located along the southwestern edge of the Llano Estacado in West Texas. It is situated above the Permian Basin, a large sedimentary deposit that contains significant reserves of oil and natural gas.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 44.0 square miles (114 km2). 43.9 square miles (114 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.05%) is covered by water.


Odessa has the semiarid climate typical of West Texas. Summers are hot and sunny, while winters are mild and dry. Most rainfall occurs in late spring and summer; snowfall is rare. The area exhibits a large diurnal temperature range and frequent high winds.

Climate data for Odessa, Texas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 91
Average high °F (°C) 57.5
Average low °F (°C) 34.7
Record low °F (°C) 2
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.50
Snowfall inches (cm) 0.4
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 3.3 3.4 3.5 2.6 4.0 3.9 4.2 4.8 4.8 4.8 2.7 3.1 45.0
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1
Source: NOAA (normals 1981−2010, percent sunshine through 2009)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 2,407
1940 9,573 297.7%
1950 29,495 208.1%
1960 80,338 172.4%
1970 78,380 −2.4%
1980 90,027 14.9%
1990 89,699 −0.4%
2000 90,943 1.4%
2010 99,940 9.9%
2019 (est.) 123,334 23.4%
U.S. Census Bureau Texas Almanac

As of the 2010 Census, 99,940 people, 35,216 households, and 27,412 families resided in the city. The population density was 2,276.5 people per square mile (954.2/km2). There were 43,687 housing units at an average density of 995.1 per square mile (384.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 75.4% White, 5.7% Black, 1.1% Asian, 1.0% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.2% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race was 50.6%.

Of the 35,216 households, 37.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.6% were not families. About 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65, and the average family size was 3.21.

The population was distributed as 29.8% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,209, and the median income for a family was $36,869. Males had a median income of $31,115 versus $21,743 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,096. About 16.0% of families and 18.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.9% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Odessa, TX, welcome sign Picture 1824
Odessa welcome sign along Interstate 20
Ector Theatre, Odessa, TX DSCN1281
The 700-seat Ector Theatre at 500 N. Texas Ave. in Odessa opened in 1951. Now closed for regular films, it still hosts occasional community events, performing arts, and musical expositions.
Abandoned Historic Rio Theater in Odessa, TX DSCN1292
The abandoned Rio Theater on North Grant Street in Odessa opened in 1947 as the Scott Theater. In 2010, a community group attempted to acquire the building.
First Baptist Church, Odessa, TX DSCN0987
First Baptist Church in downtown Odessa; pastor Byron V. McWilliams (2014), a former accountant for an oil company in Houston and a two-term past president of Southern Baptists of Texas
Sunset Memorial Gardens, Odessa, TX DSCN1268
Sunset Memorial Gardens at 6801 Interstate 20E is one of two cemeteries in Odessa; the other, Ector County Cemetery, at 300 S Dixie Blvd.

Performing arts

The Midland–Odessa Symphony and Chorale (MOSC) was founded in 1962, and is the region's largest orchestral organization, presenting both Pops and Masterworks concerts throughout the year. Composed of professional musicians from the area, as well as Lubbock, San Angelo, and other surrounding cities, the MOSC is also home to three resident chamber ensembles: the Lone Star Brass, Permian Basin String Quartet, and West Texas Winds. These ensembles are made up of principal musicians in the orchestra, who come to the area from across the United States.

The Globe of the Great Southwest, located on the campus of Odessa College, the community college in Odessa, features an authentic replica of William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. It hosts plays and other community groups throughout the year, as well as an annual Shakespeare festival.

Built in 1951, the Ector Theater served as one Odessa's finest theaters until it closed. Today, the renovated 700-seat theater provides the community with classic movies, live theatrical productions, and concerts.

The Permian Playhouse has provided music, dance, drama, suspense, and comedy for over 40 years.


The Odessa Jackalopes junior A ice hockey team plays its home games at Ector County Coliseum. High school football is also popular. Ratliff Stadium, which was featured in the movie Friday Night Lights, is home to the Odessa Bronchos and the Permian Panthers. It is one of the largest high school stadiums in the state, listed as seventh in capacity within Texas.


White-Pool House in Odessa, TX Picture 1849
The White-Pool House, built in 1887, is the oldest structure still standing in Odessa. Open to visitors at 112 East Murphy Street near South Grant Avenue, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stonehenge at University of Texas at the Permian Basin Picture 1851
Stonehenge replica on campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa
Parker Ranch House Museum, Odessa, TX DSCN1231
Parker Ranch House Museum at 1118 Maple Ave.; the restored structure was once the headquarters of a ranch that includes 175 sections of land in Andrews and Ector counties. Owned from the 1930s to the 1950s by Jim and Bessie Parker, the museum features exhibits of the ranching family.

Odessa's Presidential Museum and Leadership Library, on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, is the only facility of its kind in the United States—dedicated to the office of the Presidency, not any particular occupant of the Oval Office. There are also displays about the Presidents of the Republic of Texas. The museum was pushed to fruition by the late State Representative George "Buddy" West of Odessa. The building itself is named for West and his wife, Shirley.

After fighting financial hardships, the Presidential Museum closed its doors to the public as of 21 August 2009. In February 2010, additional funding allowed the doors to reopen, with negotiations pending for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin to take control of the museum.

The White-Pool House east of downtown is the oldest surviving structure in Odessa. It was built in 1887 and opened as an historic house museum in 1984.

Texon Santa Fe Depot, recently relocated to West Odessa, serves as a museum in honor of the old west and the railroads.

The Parker House Museum is Odessa's newest addition to the historical records of Odessa. In 1935, the Parker family moved into this modest house located on 1,290 acres (5.2 km2). It represents the lifestyle of a prominent ranching family, who served the communities of Andrews and Ector Counties since 1907.

Odessa Meteor Crater, an impact crater 550 feet (170 m) in diameter, is located southwest of the city.

Odessa has a Stonehenge replica on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Completed in 2004, the replica is horizontally equal to the Stonehenge in England, but only 70% of the vertical height of the original.

Rabbit as symbol

The jack rabbit has become the symbol of Odessa. Beginning in 1932, Odessa held a rodeo for roping rabbits. In one competition, cowgirl Grace Hendricks roped a rabbit from horseback in five seconds and beat her male competitors. The unusual rodeo ended in 1977 because of objections from the Humane Society. Many businesses and residences about Odessa display models of rabbits.


Air and space

  • Odessa is served by Midland International Air and Space Port (ICAO code: KMAF, IATA code: MAF), which is located halfway between Odessa and Midland.
  • Schlemeyer Field (ICAO code: KODO, IATA code: ODO) is a general aviation airport located on Odessa's northeast side.

Midland International Airport is served by:

Midland Spaceport is served by:

  • Xcor Aerospace


  • I-20 (Interstate 20)
  • Bus. I-20 (2nd Street)
  • US 385 (Andrews Highway / Grant Avenue)
  • SH 191 (42nd Street)
  • Spur 450 (Kermit Highway)
  • Spur 588 (Faudree Road)
  • Loop 338
  • FM 1882 (County Road West)
  • FM 2020 (University Boulevard)

In popular culture

  • The book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, by author H. G. Bissinger, and the subsequent movie (Friday Night Lights) are based on the 1988 football season of the Permian High School, one of the two high school football teams in Odessa. Many of the characters mentioned in the book still reside in Odessa (as of January 2007). A TV show, also by the name Friday Night Lights, aired from 2006 to 2011. It is loosely based on the book and movie, but takes place in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, itself partly based on Odessa.
  • Making News: Texas Style, a reality series on the TV Guide Channel, followed the reporters of the local CBS affiliate, KOSA-TV.
  • A portion of the Tommy Lee Jones film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada was filmed in Odessa.
  • Odessa is used as the hometown setting for Claire Bennett and her family in Season 1 of the NBC show Heroes. The town is mentioned many times throughout the series.
  • In the novel No Country for Old Men, as well as the four time Academy Award winning film adaptation by the Coen brothers, Odessa is home to the mother of Carla Jean Moss, wife of protagonist Llewelyn Moss. Llewelyn sends Carla Jean to Odessa to stay with her mother when he learns he is being hunted by mobsters after finding $2 million.


Prosperity Bank, Odessa, TX DSCN1277
Prosperity Bank Building is the tallest building in Odessa.
Pumpjacks in Texas
Oil Pumpjacks seen in an oil field in Penwell, west of Odessa in 2006. The oil industry has been Odessa’s main economy since the 1920s.
MCM Grand Hotel, Odessa, TX DSCN1213
MCM Grande Hotel in Odessa includes the West Texas Events Center.

Historically, the Odessa economy has been primarily driven by the area's oil industry, booming and busting in response to rises and falls in the crude oil price. Many of the city's largest employers are oilfield supply companies and petrochemical processing companies. In recent decades, city leaders have begun trying to decrease the city's reliance on the energy industry to moderate the boom-bust cycle and develop greater economic sustainability.

Odessa has also taken steps to diversify the energy it produces. A new wind farm has been constructed in northern Ector County. A new coal pollution mitigation plant has been announced for a site previously entered in the Futuregen bidding. The new plant will be run by Summit Power and will be located near Penwell. This new plant could lead to the creation of 8,000 jobs in the area. Plans are in place for a small nuclear reactor called the High-Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor to be run as a test and teaching facility in conjunction with the nuclear engineering department at University of Texas of the Permian Basin. This reactor is planned to be near Andrews.

Odessa's main enclosed shopping mall is Music City Mall, which includes Dillards, JC Penney, At Home, Burlington Coat Factory, an indoor ice skating rink, and CBS News. Construction of new retail in recent years has been concentrated on the city's northeast side. In November 2007, the city approved a contract with a company that develops armaments for US Army helicopters to begin operations in Odessa.

Largest employers

As in many municipalities, some of the largest employers are in the education, government, and healthcare industries. Outside of those areas, the city's major employers are concentrated in the oil industry. According to the city's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer Number of
1 Saulsbury Companies 4,000
2 Ector County Independent School District 3,873
3 Halliburton 2,700
4 Medical Center Hospital 1,922
5 Keane Group 1,593
6 Odessa Regional Medical Center 1,000
7 Walmart 938
8 City of Odessa 900
9 Weatherford 900
10 Ector County 668


Universities and colleges

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) began in 1973. UTPB was an upper level and graduate university until the Texas Legislature passed a bill in spring 1991 to allow the university to accept freshmen and sophomores. As of 2006, the university was holding discussions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the construction of a new High-Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor, which if successful, would finish licensing and construction around 2012. It would be the first university-based research reactor to be built in the US in roughly a decade, and be one of the few HTGR-type reactors in the world. In January 2006, UTPB's School of Business was awarded accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, which is generally regarded as the premier accreditation agency for the world's business schools. According to the university, only 30% of business schools in the United States, and 15% of world business schools, have received AACSB accreditation.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Permian Basin Campus opened as a school of medicine in 1979, beginning in the basement of Medical Center Hospital. Since 1994, TTUHSC Permian Basin has included a school of allied health, offering a master's degree in physical therapy. Also, on the campus of Midland College, it offers a physician-assistant program. Additionally, TTUHSC Permian Basin includes a school of nursing focusing on primary care and rural health. In June 1999, the Texas Tech Health Center opened as a clinic, providing increased access to primary and specialized health care for the Permian Basin. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Permian Basin also operates 21 WIC clinics located in nearby small communities.

Odessa College

Odessa College sign IMG 0325
Entrance sign at Odessa College

Odessa College is a public, two-year college based in Odessa, serving the people of Ector County and the Permian Basin. It opened in 1952 and currently enrolls about 6,000 annually in its university-parallel and occupational/technical courses, and 11,000 students annually in its basic education, continuing education, and community recreation courses.

Primary and secondary schools

The Ector County Independent School District was established in 1921, in a consolidation of seven area schools. The district now contains 38 campuses. It administers these high schools: Permian High School, Odessa High School, George H. W. Bush New Tech Odessa, OC Techs at Odessa College and Falcon Early College High School, also at Odessa College.

Odessa's private schools include Montessori Mastery School of Odessa, Latter Rain Christian School, Odessa Christian School, Permian Basin Christian School, Faith Community Christian Academy, St. John's Episcopal School, St. Mary's Central Catholic School (of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, Rainey School of Montessori, Sherwood Christian Academy, and Zion Christian Academy. Odessa is also home to five charter schools: Compass Academy Charter School, UTPB STEM Academy, Harmony Science Academy-Odessa, Embassy Academy, and Richard Milburn Academy-Odessa.


Ector County Library in Odessa, TX Picture 1830
Ector County Library in downtown Odessa
  • Ector County Library
  • Murry H. Fly Learning Resource Center
  • The J. Conrad Dunagan Library

Notable people

  • Tommy Allsup, musician
  • Karan Ashley, actress
  • Raymond Benson, author
  • Bonner Bolton, bull rider, model
  • Jim J. Bullock, actor
  • Lucius Desha Bunton III, United States federal judge
  • Marcus Cannon, professional football player
  • Chuck Dicus, player in College Football Hall of Fame
  • Hayden Fry, college football coach
  • Larry Gatlin, country music singer
  • Ronald D. Godard, ambassador
  • Britt Harley Hager, professional football player
  • Daniel Ray Herrera, professional baseball pitcher
  • Mike Holloway, winner of Survivor: Worlds Apart
  • Daryl Hunt, professional football player
  • Virgil Johnson, founder of The Velvets singing group
  • Chris Kyle, former U.S. Navy SEAL
  • Brooks Landgraf, attorney and member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 81
  • Blair Late, singer and actor
  • Trey Lunsford, former catcher for the San Francisco Giants
  • Bradley Marquez, former NFL wide receiver
  • Nolan McCarty, Chair Department of Politics, Princeton University
  • Chris McGaha, NHRA Pro Stock racer
  • Gene Mayfield, college and high-school football coach
  • Bill Myrick, country music singer
  • Bill Noël, oil industrialist and philanthropist
  • Roy Orbison, singer-songwriter
  • Jim Reese, mayor of Odessa from 1968 to 1974
  • Robert Rummel-Hudson, author
  • Kelly Schmedes, professional soccer player
  • Wally Scott, famed glider pilot
  • Kim Smith, model and actress
  • Toby Stevenson, Olympic pole vaulter
  • Stephnie Weir, actress and comedian
  • Elizabeth Wetmore, novelist
  • Roy Williams, professional football player
  • Alfred Mac Wilson, United States Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient
  • Marvin Rex Young, U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient
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