Introduction to Houston, Texas
Incorporated in 1837, Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States with a population of approximately 2 million people. The population of the greater Houston metropolitan area is approximately 5 million people.
Houston is located in eastern Texas, on Galveston Bay, near the Texas Gulf Coast. It is approximately two hours from the Texas/Louisiana border. It is unofficially nicknamed the "Bayou City" because of four bayous that run through the city. Houston's official nickname is "Space City" since it is home to NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, where Mission Control is located.
The port of Houston is one of the ten busiest ports in the world and one of the busiest ports in the United States. Houston is well known for its energy (oil) and aeronautics industries and is home to the world-renowned Texas Medical Center.
Houston was founded by two New York real estate promoters, John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, who purchased the land in 1836 and founded a town named after Sam Houston. The city was incorporated in 1837 and was the capital of the Republic of Texas until early 1839, when the capital was moved to Austin.
Some key dates in Houston's history include:
- In 1861, Harris and all of the surrounding counties voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in the Civil War. Not all Texas counties followed suit.
- In 1901, a major oil discovery was made at Spindletop, near Beaumont, giving birth to the oil industry in southeast Texas and Houston.
- In 1914, the Houston Ship Channel was constructed along the course of Buffalo Bayou.
- In 1961, the Johnson Space Center was established at Clear Lake south of Houston.
- In 1965, the Harris County Domed Stadium, later called the Houston Astrodome, was completed.
Houston Arts and Culture
Houston is a vibrant and rich center for arts and culture. Houston offers museums, the performing arts, and much more. It is one of only five cities in the United States with resident companies in the four disciplines of the performing arts: ballet, symphony, opera, and theater. Houston's Museum District is home to over 15 institutions with attractions for every taste and interest. Some of Houston's more notable museums include:
- Bayou Bend
- The Children's Museum of Houston
- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Holocaust Museum Houston
- John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science
- Lawndale Art Center
- The Menil Collection
- Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum
- Houston Center of Photography
The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is the sixth largest museum in the United States.
For patrons of the performing arts, Houston's downtown 17-block Theater District is home to eight performing arts organizations. Some of the more notable include:
- The Alley Theatre
- Broadway In Houston
- The Houston Ballet
- The Houston Grand Opera
- The Houston Symphony
Houston Sports and Leisure
Houston has plenty to offer to fill every sports fan's appetite. Houston is home to the following major sports teams:
- Baseball - The Major League Baseball (MLB) Houston Astros
- Basketball - The National Basketball Association (NBA) Houston Rockets and the WNBA Houston Comets
- Football - The National Football League (NFL) Houston Texans
- Hockey - The American Hockey League Houston Aeros
- Soccer - The Major League Soccer (MLS) Houston Dynamo
Houston is also home to the NCAA College Football Houston Bowl.
As one might expect of a city in a sub-tropical climate, outdoor activities abound in Houston. Houston is located only 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and all of its beaches and associated water sports. Houston is also only 30 minutes from Clear Lake, a 2,000-acre destination for boating enthusiasts. There are more than 165 public and private golf courses in Houston.
Houston "Must See" Attractions
Houston has attractions too numerous to do justice in a simple list. Some of Houston's more notable and unique attractions include:
- The Art Car Parade and Festival which happens every spring along the Allen Parkway and Buffalo Bayou
- Bayou Place, great restaurants, theaters, and concerts, all under one roof
- The Buffalo Bayou Promenade, a promenade stretching from Bagby Street (near the Bayou Place entertainment complex) to Sabine Street
- The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest livestock exposition in the world
- NASA's Johnson Space Center
- The San Jacinto Monument and battleground commemorating the site where Sam Houston triumphed over General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in the final battle of the Texas Revolution
- Traders Village, the largest market on the Texas Gulf Coast that hosts an average of 1,000 merchants every weekend and one million bargain-seekers each year
Houston at Night
Long famous as a home for Tex-Mex cuisine, Houston offers the cuisine of almost every ethnic group. Excellent restaurants for every taste can be found in just about every part of the city. For individuals whose nighttime interests turn to the nightclub, dancing, and music scene, few places offer as much as Houston. In Houston, an individual can enjoy just about every type of music, including: blues, classical, choral, country, jazz, and Zydeco. While scattered throughout the city, a great deal of Houston’s nightlife is concentrated in the Downtown and Uptown sections of the city. The Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, and guest informant magazine (a Where Magazine publication) are excellent sources of information on the latest attractions and happenings.