Houston, inland port city, in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery counties, that is the seat of Harris county, southeastern Texas, U.S. It is linked by the Houston Ship Channel to the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway at Galveston, 50 miles southeast. Its skyscrapers rise from the unrelievedly flat Gulf Coastal Plain, which at Houston lies at an elevation of about 55 feet above sea level and is dissected by a series of bayous. The region’s climate is warm and humid, and the city is noted for its hot, sticky summers. In addition to Galveston, other major cities in the Houston metropolitan area include Baytown, League City, Missouri City, Pasadena, Sugar Land, and Texas City. Inc. 1837. Area 601 square miles .
Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, with a population of 6,997,384 in 2018.Comprising a total area of 637.4 square miles , Houston is the eighth most expansive city in the United States . It is the largest city in the United States by total area, whose government is not consolidated with that of a county, parish or borough. Though primarily in Harris County, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, bordering other principal communities of Greater Houston such as Sugar Land and The Woodlands.
The city of Houston was founded by land investors on August 30, 1836, at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou and incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837. The city is named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas and had won Texas' independence from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto 25 miles east of Allen's Landing. After briefly serving as the capital of the Texas Republic in the late 1830s, Houston grew steadily into a regional trading center for the remainder of the 19th century.The arrival of the 20th century saw a convergence of economic factors which fueled rapid growth in Houston, including a burgeoning port and railroad industry, the decline of Galveston as Texas' primary port following a devastating 1900 hurricane, the subsequent construction of the Houston Ship Channel, and the Texas oil boom.
Leading in healthcare sectors and building oilfield equipment, Houston has the second most Fortune 500 headquarters of any U.S. municipality within its 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 “Bayou City”, “Space City”, “H-Town”, and ‘the 713”, Houston has become a global city, with strengths in culture, 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 metropolitan area in Texas and has been described as the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the U.S. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Museum District.
Data and Facts
- Houston ranks first among U.S. cities where paychecks stretch the furthest, according to Forbes
- Houston is home to the second largest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the country (49) behind New York (72)
- Houston rates first in total park acreage among U.S. cities with more than one million residents
- There are 198 golf courses within a 50-mile radius of downtown Houston
- “Houston" is the first word spoken from the lunar surface during the 1969 Moon Landing
- The Texas Medical Center is located in Houston and contains 54 medicine-related institutions. The medical center exceeds 1,000 acres and gets an average of 7.2 million visits per year
The city of Houston has a strong mayoral form of municipal government. Houston is a home rule city and all municipal elections in the Texas are nonpartisan.The city's elected officials are the mayor, city controller and 16 members of the Houston City Council.The current mayor of Houston is Sylvester Turner, a Democrat elected on a nonpartisan ballot. 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.The original city council line-up of 14 members was based on a U.S. Justice Department mandate which took effect in 1979.At-large council members represent the entire city.[ Under the city charter, once the population in the city limits exceeded 2.1 million residents, two additional districts were to be added.
The city of Houston's official 2010 census count was 600 shy of the required number; however, as the city was expected to grow beyond 2.1 million shortly thereafter, the two additional districts were added for, and the positions filled during, the August 2011 elections.
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. Chris Brown is the city controller, serving his first term as of January 2016. As the result of a 2015 referendum in Houston, a mayor is elected for a four-year term, and can be elected to as many as two consecutive terms.
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 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 of Hispanics in the area are declared or favor Democrats.
The economy of Houston is based primarily on the energy industry, particularly oil. However, health care, biomedical research, and aerospace also constitute large sectors. In 2012, the gross domestic product of the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area was $449 billion, the fourth-largest of any metro area in the United States.The Houston metropolitan area comprises the largest concentration of petrochemical manufacturing in the world, including for synthetic rubber, insecticides, and fertilizers. It is the world's leading center for oilfield equipment construction, with the city of Houston home to more than 3,000 energy-related businesses, including many of the top oil and gas exploration and production firms and petroleum pipeline operators.As of 2011, 23 companies on the Fortune 500 list have their headquarters in, or around, Houston.The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area ranked 33rd among the nation's 361 MSAs on per capita personal income at US$36,852 - 11.5 percent higher than the national figure of US$33,050. In 2012, Houston was ranked #1 by Forbes for paycheck worth, and, in late May 2013, it was identified as America's top city for job creation.
Houston is a major corporate center. The city and surrounding metropolitan region is home to 23 Fortune 500 companies, as well as other multinationals and domestic companies. Of the world's 100 largest non-U.S.-based corporations, more than half have operations in Houston.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. The 2011 Fortune 500 list shows 23 firms headquartered in the 10-county Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown Metropolitan Statistical Area. Only New York City has more Fortune 500 headquarters within city limits.
Banking and financial services are vital to the region. News and World Report, many hospitals in Houston consistently rank among the nation's top healthcare institutions.
Houston is home to more than 10,700 manufacturing establishments. The city ranked as a Gold Medal World-Class Community for Manufacturing for four consecutive years by Industry Week magazine.The Houston-Gulf Coast region has nearly 40 percent of the U.S. capacity for base petrochemicals, ensuring rapid access to major resin producers and resin technologies. Houston is projected to experience a 2.7 percent increase in manufacturing employment by 2012. Metals manufacturing is a $12.0 billion industry in Houston, with nearly 2,100 establishments employing more than 67,000 workers in the region. Approximately 250 establishments employ more than 20,000 people in Houston's electronics manufacturing industries. Hewlett Packard employs more people in its Houston operations than any other HP facility in the world.Houston is known as a world capital of the oil and gas industry with over 5000 energy firms doing business in the region.Historically, Houston has had several growth spurts related to the oil industry. The discovery of oil near Houston in 1901 led to its first growth spurt — by the 1920s, Houston had grown to almost 140,000 people. The city is a leading domestic and international center for virtually every segment of the oil and gas industry - exploration, production, transmission, marketing, service, supply, offshore drilling, and technology. Houston dominates U.S. oil and gas exploration and production. The city remains unrivaled as a center for the American energy industry.n January 2005, the Houston Primary Metropolitan Statistical Areas accounted for: 31% of all U.S. jobs in oil and gas extraction , and 14% of all U.S. jobs in support activities for mining .
Supporting the industry is a complex of several thousand miles of pipeline connecting 200 chemical plants, refinery, salt domes and fractionation plants along the Texas Gulf Coast, which allows transfer of feedstocks, fuel and chemical products among plants, storage terminals and transportation facilities. Houston has more than 400 chemical manufacturing establishments with more than 35,000 employees. Houston has two of four largest U.S. refineries. ExxonMobil’s complex in Baytown is one of the oldest in the area and one of the largest of its kind in the world
More than 235 establishments in the Houston metro area manufacture plastic and rubber products.
Houston dominates the U.S. production of three major resins: polyethylene ; polyvinyl chloride and polypropylene . Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center, NASA's largest research and development facility, employing nearly 3,000 federal civil service workers and more than 14,000 contract personnel. Program offices for Project Constellation, Orion, and other new space vehicle projects will create new jobs at the center.[The city's burgeoning aerospace industry heralded its second growth spurt, which solidified with the 1973 oil crisis. The majority of the contractor work force related to the projects will also be located at the center.Texas Governor Rick Perry recently announced a $7.5 million Texas Enterprise Fund grant to Lockheed Martin, which will bring about 1,000 jobs to the Houston area. The grant ensures that Lockheed Martin will create these jobs in the Houston area after they earned a multibillion-dollar contract from NASA to build the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
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 country in international commerce and is the sixth-largest port in the world. Amid other U.S. ports, it is the busiest in foreign tonnage and second in overall tonnage.
International trade directly or indirectly supports more than one-third of all jobs in the Houston metropolitan area. Ninety-one nations have consular representation in the city, ranking Houston’s consular corps third largest in the nation.
Houston has not evolved into Texas' biggest City (and the largest in the South) by accident. Known as the Bayou City for its waterway system, Houston thrives because it is a great place to work and a great place to live.
For business and fun, for living and visiting, Houston is one of the dynamic frontiers on the world stage. With its proximity to the Southern Hemisphere and having the infrastructure to accommodate the growing needs of numerous global interests, Houston has become an international destination and one of the world's great cities.
As a major corporate center. Houston is home to 23 Fortune 500 companies. The Port of Houston, one of the region's greatest assets, ranks as the nation's largest port in international tonnage and second in total tonnage.
Houston's infrastructure is also strengthened by three airports, which form the sixth-largest airport system in the world, and a massive trucking and rail system that links the southern, south central, midwestern and western United States. More than 600 trucking firms operate in Houston, and two major rail systems operate 14 mainline tracks radiating from Houston.
Houston's employment base has become increasingly diverse. In 1981, the economic base was dominated by energy-related businesses with nearly 85 percent of all jobs in those sectors. Today nearly half of all jobs are in non-energy fields, such as business services, technology, aerospace, medicine and manufacturing.
Houston offers a richly-diverse pool of highly-skilled, multilingual, multicultural workers. Nearly 25 percent of all adults have completed four years of college, surpassing the national average, while the median age is three years younger than the national average. More than 90 languages are spoken in Houston.
The City of Houston offers a wide range of incentive programs to encourage business and industry to choose Houston when making expansion or relocation decisions.
Houston has 18 sister-city relationships promoting business opportunities across ﬁve continents: Asia (7), Europe (7), Americas (2), Africa (1), and Australia (1). Houston’s oldest sister-city relationship was established in 1961 with Taipei, Taiwan, and its most recent relationship with Basrah, Iraq was established in ’15. Fifteen foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here, and the city has 35 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations.
Bush Intercontinental Airport offers non-stop service to more than 70 international destinations. Hobby Airport completed construction on an International Terminal in 2015 and began service to Mexico and Latin America through Southwest Airlines. It now serves more than 55 destinations.
The City of Houston offers a 300-mile interconnected bikeway network spread over 500 square miles. The network includes bike lanes, bike routes, signed-shared lanes and shared-use paths.
Houston received approximately 17.5 million visitors in 2015, according to the most recent data available. Visitors to Houston spent $17 billion in 2014 and the industry supports more than 123,000 jobs. Houston has more than 80,000 hotel rooms with approximately 8,000 located downtown. The Houston Airport System (George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport) handled 55 million passengers in 2015.
The Greater Houston area has 14 major institutions of higher learning and more than 60 degree-granting colleges, universities and technical schools. Houston (Rice University) is the birthplace of nanotechnology. Rice University ranked first among "30 Best Values in Small Colleges" and the "30 Best College Values in the West/Southwest" according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine (2014). Tier One research universities in the Houston region include: Rice University, the University of Houston and Texas A&M University. The region has some 100 trade, vocational and business schools.
Houston had the fifth-tallest skyline in North America (after New York City, Chicago, Toronto and Miami) and 36th-tallest in the world in 2015. 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 mid rise 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, 19th tallest building in the United States, and was previously 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 the highest architectural feature, it is the 21st-tallest in the United States. In 2007, Downtown had over 43 million square feet (4,000,000 m²) of office space.
Houston has more than 1,000 computer-related companies.Since its inception in 1999, Houston Technology Center has become the center of technology entrepreneurship in Houston. The center has helped more than 150 emerging technology companies raise more than $400 million in capital and create about 1,000 new jobs. Information technology developed in Houston affects many entities, including the region's traffic and emergency response efforts at Houston TranStar, a centralized transportation management and regional emergency management center.Houston, with a customer base of more than 3 million, is AT&T's largest service city. The city's telecommunications infrastructure completes more than 70 million Houston telephone connections daily.The Texas Public Utilities Commission has certified more than 400 additional local exchange carriers to provide service statewide or specifically within Houston. More than 1,600 interexchange carriers have registered with the commission to provide long-distance service.The University of Houston System's annual impact on the Houston-area's economy equates to that of a major corporation: $1.1 billion in new funds attracted annually to the Houston area, $3.13 billion in total economic benefit, and 24,000 local jobs generated.This is in addition to the 12,500 new graduates the UH System produces every year who enter the workforce in Houston and throughout Texas. These degree-holders tend to stay in Houston. After five years, 80.5 percent of graduates are still living and working in the region.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Houston, with 2.3 million residents, is the fourth most populous city in the United States, trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The city is the largest in the South and the Southwest. Houston is the nation’s demographic future. In racial and ethnic composition, the Houston of today very much resembles the U.S. 40 years hence.
- 37.3% Anglo
- 36.5% Hispanic
- 16.9% African American
- 7.5% Asian/Other
- 1.8% Other
More than 145 different languages are spoken in Houston. That's the third largest number of languages spoken in a U.S. city behind New York (192) and LA (185). More than a third of Houstonians older than five speak a language other than English at home.Just over 31% of the population over the age of 25 holds a bachelor's degree or higher.Houston has a very young population. Approximately 22.1% of residents are age 5 to 19, the largest population segment.
GQ Magazine deemed Houston the "New Capital of Southern Cool" (2018). Thrillist ranked Houston among "The 7 Most Impressive American Cities of 2017" for its diverse population, affordability and strong economy (2018).
The 2010 United States Census reported that Houston had a population of 2,100,263 residents. In 2017, the census-estimated population rose to 2,312,717, and in 2018 to 2,325,502. An estimated 600,000 undocumented immigrants resided in the Houston area, comprising nearly 9% of the city's metropolitan population.
Per the American Community Survey's 2014-2018 estimates, Houston's age distribution was 486,083 under 15; 147,710 aged 15 to 19; 603,586 aged 20 to 34; 726,877 aged 35 to 59; and 357,834 aged 60 and older. The median age was 33.1, up from 32.9 in 2017 and down from 33.5 in 2014; the city's youthfulness was attributed to an influx of an African American New Great Migration, Hispanic or Latin American, and Asian immigrants into Texas. For every 100 females, there were 98.5 males.
There were 976,745 housing units in 2018 and 848,340 households.42.9% of Houstonians owned housing units with an average of 2.67 persons per household. The median household income in 2018 was $51,140 and 20.6% of Houstonians lived below the poverty line.
Houston is a minority-majority city. The Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research, a think tank, has described Greater Houston as «one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the country». Houston's diversity, fueled by large waves of immigrants, has been attributed to its relatively low cost of living, strong job market, proximity to Latin America, and role as a hub for refugee resettlement. Houston has long been known as a popular destination for African-Americans due to the city's well-established and influential African American community. A 2012 Kinder Institute report found that, based on the evenness of population distribution between the four major racial groups in the United States , Greater Houston was the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the United States, ahead of New York City. In 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, non-Hispanic whites made up 24.9% of the population of Houston proper, Hispanics or Latinos 44.5%, Blacks or African Americans 22.9%, and Asians 6.7%. In 2010, whites made up 51% of the city 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%. and 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.
Historically, Houston has been a center of Protestant Christianity, being part of the Bible Belt. Other Christian groups including Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, and non-Christian religions did not grow for much of the city's history because immigration was predominantly from Western Europe . The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed the quotas, allowing for the growth of other religions.
According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 73% of the population of the Houston area identified themselves as Christians, about 50% of whom claimed Protestant affiliations and about 19% claimed Roman Catholic affiliations.