Houston (/ˈhjuːstən/ (listen) HEW-stən) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, with a census-estimated population of 2.312 million in 2017.[7] It is the most populous city in the Southern United States[8] and on the Gulf Coast of the United States. 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 (MSA) in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA. With a total area of 627 square miles (1,620 km2),[7] Houston is the eighth most expansive city in the United States (including consolidated city-counties). It is the largest city in the United States by total area, whose government is similarly not consolidated with that of a county or borough. Though primarily in Harris County, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

Houston was founded by land speculators on August 30, 1836,[9] at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou (a point now known as Allen's Landing)[10] and incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837.[11] 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 (40 km) east of Allen's Landing.[11] 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.[12]

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.[12] In the mid-20th century, Houston's economy diversified as it became home to 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, healthcare, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. Leading in healthcare sectors and building oilfield equipment, Houston has the second most Fortune 500 headquarters of any U.S. municipality within its city limits (after New York City).[13][14] The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled.[15] Nicknamed the "Space City", Houston is 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.[16] 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.[17]

Houston, Texas
City of Houston
Top to bottom, left to right: Sam Houston Monument, Rice University, University of Houston, Toyota Center, The Galleria, Broken Obelisk, Downtown Houston, George Bush Park, and the Houston Ship Channel
Space City (official) more ...
Location within and around Harris County
Location within and around Harris County
Houston is located in Texas
Location within Texas
Houston is located in the United States
Location within the United States
Houston is located in North America
Location within North America
Coordinates: 29°45′46″N 95°22′59″W / 29.76278°N 95.38306°WCoordinates: 29°45′46″N 95°22′59″W / 29.76278°N 95.38306°W
Country United States
State Texas
CountiesHarris, Fort Bend, Montgomery
IncorporatedJune 5, 1837
Named forSam Houston
 • TypeMayor–council
 • BodyHouston City Council
 • MayorSylvester Turner (D)
 • City627 sq mi (1,623.92 km2)
 • Land599.59 sq mi (1,552.9 km2)
 • Metro
1,062 sq mi (2,750 km2)
80 ft (32 m)
 • City2,099,451
 • Estimate 
 • RankUS: 4th
 • Density3,660/sq mi (1,414/km2)
 • Urban
4,944,332 (7th U.S.)
 • Metro
6,313,158 (5th U.S.)
 • Demonym
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
770xx, 772xx (P.O. Boxes)
Area codes713, 281, 832, 346
FIPS code48-35000[5]
GNIS feature ID1380948[6]
Major airportsGeorge Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
InterstatesI-10 (TX).svg I-45 (TX).svg I-69 (TX).svg I-610 (TX).svg
U.S. routesUS 59.svg US 90.svg US 290.svg
Rapid transitHoustonMetroRedLine.svg HoustonMetroPurpleLine.svg HoustonMetroGreenLine.svg


The Allen brothers—Augustus Chapman and John Kirby—explored town sites on Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay. According to historian David McComb, "[T]he brothers, on August 26, 1836, bought from Elizabeth E. Parrott, wife of T.F.L. Parrott and widow of John Austin, the south half of the lower league [2,214-acre (896 ha) tract] granted to her by her late husband. They paid $5,000 total, but only $1,000 of this in cash; notes made up the remainder."[18]

The Allen brothers ran their first advertisement for Houston just four days later in the Telegraph and Texas Register, naming the notional town in honor of President Sam Houston.[11] They successfully lobbied the Republic of Texas Congress to designate Houston as the temporary capital, agreeing to provide the new government with a capital building.[19] About a dozen persons resided in the town at the beginning of 1837, but that number grew to about 1,500 by the time the Texas Congress convened in Houston for the first time that May.[11] Houston was granted incorporation on June 5, 1837, with James S. Holman becoming its first mayor.[11] In the same year, Houston became the county seat of Harrisburg County (now Harris County).[20]

In 1839, the Republic of Texas relocated its capital to Austin. The town suffered another setback that year when a yellow fever epidemic claimed about one life out of every eight residents. Yet it persisted as a commercial center, forming a symbiosis with its Gulf Coast port, Galveston. Landlocked farmers brought their produce to Houston, using Buffalo Bayou to gain access to Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico. Houston merchants profited from selling staples to farmers and shipping the farmers' produce to Galveston.[11]

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 blacks lived near the city before the American 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.

In 1840, the community established a chamber of commerce in part to promote shipping and navigation at the newly created port on Buffalo Bayou.[21]

Old map-Houston-1873
Houston, c. 1873

By 1860, Houston had emerged as a commercial and railroad hub for the export of cotton.[20] 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 Magruder, who used the city as an organization point for the Battle of Galveston.[22] 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.

In 1900, after Galveston was struck by a devastating hurricane, efforts to make Houston into a viable deep-water port were accelerated.[23] The following year, the discovery of oil at the Spindletop oil field near Beaumont prompted the development of the Texas petroleum industry.[24] 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 Houston's residents.[25]

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.[26] In 1940, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Houston's population as 77.5% white and 22.4% black.[27]

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.[28] Ellington Field, initially built during World War I, was revitalized as an advanced training center for bombardiers and navigators.[29] 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.[30]

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.[11][31]

In 1950, the availability of air conditioning provided impetus for many companies to relocate to Houston, where wages were lower than those in the North; this resulted in an economic boom and produced a key shift in the city's economy toward the energy sector.[32][33]

The increased production of the expanded shipbuilding industry during World War II spurred Houston's growth,[34] 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",[35] 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.[36] 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, most recently 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.[37]

In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped up to 40 inches (1,000 mm) of rain on parts of Houston, causing what was then the worst flooding in the city's history. The storm cost billions of dollars in damage and killed 20 people in Texas.[38] By December of the same year, Houston-based energy company Enron collapsed into the largest U.S. bankruptcy (at that time), a result of being investigated for off-the-books partnerships which were allegedly used to hide debt and inflate profits. The company lost no less than $70 billion.[39]

In August 2005, Houston became a shelter to more than 150,000 people from New Orleans, who evacuated from Hurricane Katrina.[40] 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.[41][42] In September 2008, Houston was hit by Hurricane Ike. As many as 40% of residents refused to leave Galveston Island because they feared the type of traffic problems that had happened after Hurricane Rita.

During its recent history, Houston has flooded several times from heavy rainfall, which has been becoming increasingly common.[43] This has been exacerbated by a lack of zoning laws, which allowed unregulated building of residential homes and other structures in flood-prone areas.[44] During the floods in 2015 and 2016, each of which dropped at least a foot of rain,[45] parts of the city were covered in several inches of water.[46] Even worse flooding happened in late August 2017, when Hurricane Harvey stalled over southeastern Texas, much like Tropical Storm Allison did sixteen years earlier, causing severe flooding in the Houston area, with some areas receiving over 50 inches (1,300 mm) of rain.[47] The rainfall exceeded 50 inches in several areas locally, breaking the national record for rainfall. The damage for the Houston area is estimated at up to $125 billion U.S. dollars,[48] and it is considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States,[49] with the death toll exceeding 70 people. On January 31, 2018, the Houston City Council agreed to forgive large water bills thousands of households faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as Houston Public Works found 6,362 homeowners' water utility bills had at least doubled.[50][51]


ISS-55 Houston, Texas and Galveston Bay
Satellite image of Houston, 2018

Houston is located 165 miles (266 km) east of Austin,[52] 88 miles (142 km) west of the Louisiana border,[53] and 250 miles (400 km) south of Dallas.[54] The city has a total area of 627 square miles (1,620 km2); this comprises 599.59 square miles (1,552.9 km2) of land[55] and 22.3 square miles (58 km2) covered by water.[56] 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 and are all still visible in surrounding areas. Flat terrain and extensive greenfield development have combined to worsen flooding.[57] Downtown stands about 50 feet (15 m) above sea level,[58] and the highest point in far northwest Houston is about 125 feet (38 m) in elevation.[59][60] 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.[11][61] 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.[62]

Houston has four major bayous passing through the city that accept water from the extensive drainage system. 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;[63] 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.[28]


Houston Texas 14Mar2018 SkySat
Aerial view of central Houston, showing Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, March 2018

Houston is a flat marshy area where an extensive drainage system has been built. The adjoining prairie land drains into the city which is prone to flooding.[64] 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.[65][66]

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),[67][68][69] 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.[70] These faults also tend to move at a smooth rate in what is termed "fault creep",[61] which further reduces the risk of an earthquake.


Hurricane Harvey (36561871944)
Buffalo Bayou after Hurricane Harvey, August 2017

Houston's climate is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa in the Köppen climate classification system), typical of the Southern United States. The city experiences hot, long, and humid summers, and mild winters. While not located in Tornado Alley, like much of northern 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 and Galveston Bay.[71]

During the summer, temperatures in Houston commonly reach over 90 °F (32 °C). The city reaches or surpasses this temperature on an average of 106.5 days per year, including a majority of days from June to September; additionally, an average of 4.6 days per year reach or exceed 100 °F (38 °C).[72] Houston's characteristic subtropical humidity often results in a higher apparent temperature, and summer mornings average over 90% relative humidity.[73] Air conditioning is ubiquitous in Houston; in 1981, annual spending on electricity for interior cooling exceeded $600 million (equivalent to $1.65 billion in 2018), and by the late 1990s, approximately 90% of Houston homes featured air conditioning systems.[74][75] The record highest temperature recorded in Houston is 109 °F (43 °C) at Bush Intercontinental Airport, during September 4, 2000, and again on August 28, 2011.[72]

Shuttle Replica Independence covered in snow
Space Shuttle Independence replica covered in snow, 2017

Houston has mild winters. In January, the normal mean temperature at George Bush Intercontinental Airport is 53.1 °F (12 °C), with an average of 13 days per year with a low at or below 32 °F (0 °C), occurring on average between December 3 and February 20, allowing for a growing season of 286 days.[72] Twenty-first century snow events in Houston include a storm on December 24, 2004, which saw 1 inch (3 cm) of snow accumulate in parts of the metro area,[76] and an event on December 7, 2017, which precipitated 0.7 inches (2 cm) of snowfall.[77][78] Snowfalls of at least 1.0 inch (2.5 cm) 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. Overall, Houston has seen measurable snowfall 38 times between 1895 and 2018. On February 14 and 15, 1895, Houston received 20 inches (51 cm) of snow, its largest snowfall from one storm on record.[79] The coldest temperature officially recorded in Houston was 5 °F (−15 °C) on January 18, 1930.[72]

Houston generally receives ample rainfall, averaging about 49.8 in (1,260 mm) annually based on records between 1981 and 2010. Many parts of the city have a high risk of localized flooding due to flat topography,[80] ubiquitous low-permeability clay-silt prairie soils,[81] and inadequate infrastructure.[80] During the mid-2010s, Greater Houston experienced consecutive major flood events in 2015 ("Memorial Day"),[82] 2016 ("Tax Day"),[83] and 2017 (Hurricane Harvey).[84] Overall, there have been more casualties and property loss from floods in Houston than in any other locality in the United States.[85]

Houston has excessive ozone levels and is routinely ranked among the most ozone-polluted cities in the United States.[86] Ground-level ozone, or smog, is Houston's predominant air pollution problem, with the American Lung Association rating the metropolitan area's ozone level twelfth on the "Most Polluted Cities by Ozone" in 2017, after major cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York City and Denver.[87] The industries located along the ship channel are a major cause of the city's air pollution.[88] The rankings are in terms of peak-based standards, focusing strictly on the worst days of the year; the average ozone levels in Houston are lower than what is seen in most other areas of the country, as dominant winds ensure clean, marine air from the Gulf.[89]


Houston was incorporated in 1837 and adopted a ward system of representation shortly afterward in 1840.[93] The six original wards of Houston are the progenitors of the 11 modern-day geographically-oriented Houston City Council districts, though the city abandoned the ward system in 1905 in favor of a commission government, and, later, the existing mayor–council government.

Locations in Houston are generally classified as either being inside or outside the Interstate 610 loop. The "Inner Loop" encompasses a 97-square-mile (250 km2) area which includes Downtown, pre–World War II residential neighborhoods and streetcar suburbs, and newer high-density apartment and townhouse developments.[94] Outside the loop, the city's typology is more suburban, though many major business districts—such as Uptown, Westchase, and the Energy Corridor—lie well outside the urban core. In addition to Interstate 610, two additional loop highways encircle the city: Beltway 8, with a radius of approximately 10 miles (16 km) from Downtown, and State Highway 99 (the Grand Parkway), with a radius of 25 miles (40 km). Approximately 470,000 people live within the Interstate 610 loop, while 1.65 million live between Interstate 610 and Beltway 8 and 2.25 million live within Harris County outside Beltway 8.[95]

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.[96][97] 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.[97][98] The city issued 42,697 building permits in 2008 and was ranked first in the list of healthiest housing markets for 2009.[99]

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, the Texas Medical Center, Midtown, Greenway Plaza, Memorial City, the Energy Corridor, Westchase, and Greenspoint.

Western view of the Downtown Houston skyline in 2010
Western view of the Downtown Houston skyline in 2010


Houston has the fifth-tallest skyline in North America (after New York City, Chicago, Toronto and Miami) and 36th-tallest in the world as of 2015.[100] 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, 19th tallest building in the United States, and was previously 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 21st-tallest in the United States. In 2007, Downtown had over 43 million square feet (4,000,000 m²) of office space.[101]

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 a central business district. The new 20-story Skanska building[102] and BBVA Compass Plaza[103] 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.[104][105][106] Since 2000 over 30 skyscrapers grown up in Houston; all told, 72 high-rises tower over the city, which adds up to about 8,300 units.[107] 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.[108]

Esperson building, 2008

The Niels Esperson Building stood as the tallest building in Houston from 1927 to 1929.

JP Morgan Chase Tower in Houston - Dec 2013

The JPMorgan Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas and the tallest 5-sided building in the world.


The Williams Tower is the tallest building in the US outside a central business district.

Bank of America Center Houston 1

The Bank of America Center by Philip Johnson is an example of postmodern architecture.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20172,312,717[2]10.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
2011 estimate
Race and ethnicity 2010- Houston
Map of ethnic distribution in Houston, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)

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".[113] A 2012 Kinder Institute report found that, based on the evenness of population distribution between the four major racial groups in the United States (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and Asian), Greater Houston was the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the United States, ahead of New York City.[114] In 2017, non-Hispanic whites made up 38% of the population of the Houston metropolitan area, Hispanics 36%, African-Americans 25%,[112] and Asians 9%.[115]

Houston's multiculturalism, 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.[116][117] At least 145 languages are spoken by city residents.[118] Greater Houston is one of the youngest metropolitan areas in the nation, with an estimated average age of 33.5 in 2014, compared with the national average of 37.4;[119] the city's youthfulness has been attributed to an influx of Hispanic and Asian immigrants into Texas.[120] As of 2017, an estimated 600,000 undocumented immigrants reside in the Houston area,[121] comprising nearly 9% of the metropolitan population.[122]

Compared with its metropolitan area, the city of Houston's population has a higher proportion of minorities. According to the 2010 Census, whites made up 51% of the city of Houston's population; 26% of the total population was non-Hispanic whites.[109] Blacks or African Americans made up 25% of Houston's population, American Indians made up 0.7% of the population, Asians made up 6%[109] (1.7% Vietnamese, 1.3% Chinese, 1.3% Indian, 0.9% Pakistani, 0.4% Filipino, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Japanese) 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.[109]

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 in 2000 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 in 2000, while non-Hispanic whites made up 30.8%.[112] The proportion of non-Hispanic whites in Houston has decreased significantly since 1970, when it was 62.4%.[27]

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.


Historically, Houston has been a center of Protestant Christianity, being part of the Bible Belt.[123] 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 (which at the time was dominated by Western Christianity and favored by the quotas in federal immigration law). The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed the quotas, allowing for the growth of other religions.[124]

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. Nationwide, about 71% of respondents identified as Christians. About 20% of Houston-area residents claimed no religious affiliation, compared to about 23% nationwide.[125] The same study says that area residents identifying with other religions (including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 7% of the area population.[125]

Lakewood Church in Houston, led by Pastor Joel Osteen, is the largest church in the United States. A megachurch, it had 44,800 weekly attendees in 2010, up from 11,000 weekly in 2000.[126] Since 2005 it has occupied the former Compaq Center sports stadium. In September 2010, Outreach Magazine published a list of the 100 largest Christian churches in the United States, and inside the list were the following Houston-area churches: Lakewood, Second Baptist Church Houston, Woodlands Church, Church Without Walls and First Baptist Church.[126] According to the list, Houston and Dallas were tied as the second most popular city for megachurches.[126]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the largest Catholic jurisdiction in Texas and fifth-largest in the United States, was established in 1847.[127] The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston claims approximately 1.7 million Catholics within its boundaries.[127]

A variety of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches can be found in Houston. Immigrants from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Ethiopia, India and other areas have added to Houston's Eastern and Oriental Orthodox population. As of 2011 in the entire State of Texas there were 32,000 people who actively attend Orthodox churches.[128] In 2013 Father John Whiteford, the pastor of St. Jonah Orthodox Church near Spring, stated that there were about 6,000-9,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians in Houston.[129]

Houston's Jewish community, estimated at 47,000 in 2001, has been present in the city from the 1800s. Houstonian Jews have origins from throughout the United States, Israel, Mexico, Russia, and other places. As of 2016 there were over 40 synagogues in Greater Houston.[124] The largest synagogues in Houston are Congregation Beth Yeshurun, a Conservative Jewish temple, and the Reform Jewish congregations Beth Israel and Emanu-El.

Houston is home to the largest Muslim population in Texas and the Southern United States as of 2012.[130] It is estimated that Muslims make up 1.2% of Houston's population.[130] As of 2016 Muslims in the Houston area included South Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans, Turks, and Indonesians. In 2000 there were over 41 mosques and storefront religious centers, with the largest being the Al-Noor Mosque (Mosque of Light) of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.[131]


Top publicly traded companies
in Houston for 2018
US Company
28 Phillips 66
54 Sysco
95 ConocoPhilips
105 Enterprise Products Partners
115 Plains GP Holdings
146 Halliburton
202 Waste Management
218 Kinder Morgan
220 Occidental Petroleum
270 EOG Resources
273 Group 1 Automotive
308 CenterPoint Energy
316 Quanta Services
334 Targa Resources
336 Calpine
352 Westlake Chemical
388 National Oilwell Varco
438 Apache Corporation
489 Cheniere Energy
Rankings for fiscal year ended January 31, 2018
Energy and oil (15 companies)
Source: Fortune[132]

Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. Renewable energy sources—wind and solar—are also growing economic bases in the city.[133][134] The Houston Ship Channel is also a large part of Houston's economic base. Because of these strengths, Houston is designated as a global city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network and global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.[14] The Houston area is the top U.S. market for exports, surpassing New York City in 2013, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration. In 2012, the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land area recorded $110.3 billion in merchandise exports.[135] Petroleum products, chemicals, and oil and gas extraction equipment accounted for roughly two-thirds of the metropolitan area's exports last year. The top three destinations for exports were Mexico, Canada, and Brazil.[136]

The Houston area is a leading center for building oilfield equipment.[137] Much of its success as a petrochemical complex is due to its busy ship channel, the Port of Houston.[138] In the United States, the port ranks first in international commerce and 10th among the largest ports in the world.[15][139] Unlike most places, high oil and gasoline prices are beneficial for Houston's economy, as many of its residents are employed in the energy industry.[140] Houston is the beginning or end point of numerous oil, gas, and products pipelines.[141]

The Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land MSA's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 was $478 billion, making it the sixth-largest of any metropolitan area in the United States and larger than Iran's, Colombia's, or the United Arab Emirates' GDP.[142] Only 27 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross area product (GAP).[143] In 2010, mining (which consists almost entirely of exploration and production of oil and gas in Houston) accounted for 26.3% of Houston's GAP up sharply in response to high energy prices and a decreased worldwide surplus of oil production capacity, followed by engineering services, health services, and manufacturing.[144]

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.[145][146] This is in addition to the 12,500 new graduates the U.H. System produces every year who enter the workforce in Houston and throughout the state of Texas. These degree-holders tend to stay in Houston. After five years, 80.5% of graduates are still living and working in the region.[146]

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 magazine.[147] Ninety-one foreign governments have established consular offices in Houston's metropolitan area, the third-highest in the nation.[148] Forty foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here with 23 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations.[149] Twenty-five foreign banks representing 13 nations operate in Houston, providing financial assistance to the international community.[150]

In 2008, Houston received top ranking on Kiplinger's Personal Finance "Best Cities of 2008" list, which ranks cities on their local economy, employment opportunities, reasonable living costs, and quality of life.[151] The city ranked fourth for highest increase in the local technological innovation over the preceding 15 years, according to Forbes magazine.[152] In the same year, the city ranked second on the annual Fortune 500 list of company headquarters,[153] first for Forbes magazine's "Best Cities for College Graduates",[154] and first on their list of "Best Cities to Buy a Home".[155] In 2010, the city was rated the best city for shopping, according to Forbes.[156]

In 2012, the city was ranked number one for paycheck worth by Forbes and in late May 2013, Houston was identified as America's top city for employment creation.[157][158]

In 2013, Houston was identified as the number one U.S. city for job creation by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics after it was not only the first major city to regain all the jobs lost in the preceding economic downturn, but also after the crash, more than two jobs were added for every one lost. Economist and vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership Patrick Jankowski attributed Houston's success to the ability of the region's real estate and energy industries to learn from historical mistakes. Furthermore, Jankowski stated that "more than 100 foreign-owned companies relocated, expanded or started new businesses in Houston" between 2008 and 2010, and this openness to external business boosted job creation during a period when domestic demand was problematically low.[158] Also in 2013, Houston again appeared on Forbes' list of "Best Places for Business and Careers".[159]


Downtown Houston Aquarium in 2012
Fountain of the Downtown Aquarium, Houston, in 2012

Located in the American South, Houston is a diverse city with a large and growing international community.[160] The Houston 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.[161] Additionally, more than one in five foreign-born residents are from Asia.[161] The city is home to the nation's third-largest concentration of consular offices, representing 92 countries.[162]

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.[163] Another large celebration is the annual night-time Houston Gay Pride Parade, held at the end of June.[164] Other notable annual events include the Houston Greek Festival,[165] Art Car Parade, the Houston Auto Show, the Houston International Festival,[166] and the Bayou City Art Festival, which is considered to be one of the top five art festivals in the United States.[167][168]

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", "Crush City", "Magnolia City", and "H-Town".

Arts and theater

The Houston Theater District, located in 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.[169][170][171]

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).[17][172] Houston is also home to folk artists, art groups and various small progressive arts organizations.[173]

Houston attracts many touring Broadway acts, concerts, shows, and exhibitions for a variety of interests.[174] 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.[175][176] 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.[177][178][179]

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 most prominent collections of decorative art, paintings, and furniture. Bayou Bend is the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg.[180]

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,[181] Houston hip-hop has become a significant, independent music scene that is influential nationwide.[182]

Tourism and recreation

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' largest shopping mall, located in the Uptown District), Old Market Square, the Downtown Aquarium, and Sam Houston Race Park.

Houston's current Chinatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District are two major ethnic enclaves, reflecting 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, Buffalo Bayou Park 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.[183] A proposal has been made to open the city's first botanic garden at Herman Brown Park.[184]

Of the 10 most populous U.S. cities, Houston has the most total area of parks and green space, 56,405 acres (228 km2).[185] 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.[186] The Bayport Cruise Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel is port of call for both Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.[187]


NRG Stadium is the home of the Houston Texans

Houston has sports teams for every major professional league except the National Hockey League. The Houston Astros are a Major League Baseball expansion team formed in 1962 (known as the "Colt .45s" until 1965) that won the World Series in 2017 and previously appeared in 2005. It is the only MLB team to have won pennants in both modern leagues.[188] The Houston Rockets are a National Basketball Association franchise based in the city since 1971. They have won two NBA Championships: in 1994 and 1995 under star players Hakeem Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe, Clyde Drexler, Vernon Maxwell, and Kenny Smith.[189] The Houston Texans are a National Football League expansion team formed in 2002. The Houston Dynamo is a Major League Soccer franchise that has been based in Houston since 2006, winning two MLS Cup titles in 2006 and 2007. The Houston Dash team plays in the National Women's Soccer League.[190] The Houston SaberCats are a Rugby team that plays in the Major League Rugby.[191] Minute Maid Park (home of the Astros) and Toyota Center (home of the Rockets), are located in Downtown Houston. Houston has the NFL's first retractable-roof stadium with natural grass, NRG Stadium (home of the Texans).[192] Minute Maid Park is also a retractable-roof stadium. Toyota Center also has the largest screen for an indoor arena in the United States built to coincide with the arena's hosting of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.[193] BBVA Compass Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium for the Houston Dynamo, the Texas Southern Tigers football team, and Houston Dash, located in East Downtown. Aveva Stadium (home of the SaberCats) is located in south Houston. In addition, NRG Astrodome was the first indoor stadium in the world, built in 1965.[194] Other sports facilities include Hofheinz Pavilion (Houston Cougars basketball), Rice Stadium (Rice Owls football), and NRG Arena. TDECU Stadium is where the University of Houston Houston Cougars football team plays.[195]

Houston has hosted several major sports events: the 1968, 1986 and 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Games; the 1989, 2006 and 2013 NBA All-Star Games; Super Bowl VIII, Super Bowl XXXVIII, and Super Bowl LI, as well as hosting the 1981, 1986, 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals, winning the latter two, and co-hosting the 2005 World Series and 2017 World Series, winning the latter. NRG Stadium hosted Super Bowl LI on February 5, 2017.[196]

The city has hosted several major professional and college sporting events, including the annual Houston Open golf tournament. Houston hosts the annual Houston College Classic baseball tournament every February, the Texas Kickoff and Bowl in September and December, respectively.[197]

The Grand Prix of Houston, an annual auto race on the IndyCar Series circuit is held on a 1.7-mile temporary street circuit in NRG Park. The October 2013 event was held using a tweaked version of the 2006–2007 course.[198] The event has a 5-year race contract through 2017 with IndyCar.[199] In motorcycling, the Astrodome hosted an AMA Supercross Championship round from 1974 to 2003 and the NRG Stadium since 2003.

Houston is also one of the first cities in the world to have a major eSports team represent it, in the form of the Houston Outlaws. The Outlaws play in the Overwatch League and are one of two Texan teams, the other being the Dallas Fuel.

Government and politics

The city of Houston has a strong mayoral form of municipal government.[200] Houston is a home rule city and all municipal elections in the state of Texas are nonpartisan.[200][201] The city's elected officials are the mayor, city controller and 16 members of the Houston City Council.[202] 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.[203]

The original city council line-up of 14 members (nine district-based and five at-large positions) was based on a U.S. Justice Department mandate which took effect in 1979.[204] At-large council members represent the entire city.[202]Under the city charter, once the population in the city limits exceeded 2.1 million residents, two additional districts were to be added.[205] 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.[206] The term limits were spearheaded in 1991 by conservative political activist Clymer Wright.[207] During 1991–2015, the city controller and city council members were subjected to a two-year, three-term limitation – the 2015 referendum amended term limits to two four-year terms. As of 2017 some councilmembers who served two terms and won a final term will have served eight years in office, whereas a freshman councilmember who won a position in 2013 can serve up to two additional terms under the previous term limit law – a select few will have at least 10 years of incumbency once their term expires.

Houston Police Department memorial
Houston Police Department Memorial

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 (of any race) in the area are declared or favor Democrats.[208] The city has often been known to be the most politically diverse city in Texas, a state known for being generally conservative.[208] As a result, the city is often a contested area in statewide elections.[208] In 2009, Houston became the first US city with a population over 1 million citizens to elect a gay mayor, by electing Annise Parker.


Houston Police Department headquarters

Houston had 303 homicides in 2015 and 302 homicides in 2016. Officials predicted there would be 323 homicides in 2016. Instead, there was no increase in Houston's homicide rate between 2015 and 2016.[209]

Houston's murder rate ranked 46th of U.S. cities with a population over 250,000 in 2005 (per capita rate of 16.3 murders per 100,000 population).[210] In 2010, the city's murder rate (per capita rate of 11.8 murders per 100,000 population) was ranked sixth among U.S. cities with a population of over 750,000 (behind New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, and Philadelphia)[211] according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Murders fell by 37 percent from January to June 2011, compared with the same period in 2010. Houston's total crime rate including violent and nonviolent crimes decreased by 11 percent.[212] The FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) indicates a downward trend of violent crime in Houston over the ten- and twenty-year periods ending in 2016, which is consistent with national trends. This trend toward lower rates of violent crime in Houston includes the murder rate, though it had seen a four-year uptick that lasted through 2015. Houston's violent crime rate was 8.6% percent higher in 2016 from the previous year. However, from 2006 to 2016, violent crime was still down 12 percent in Houston.[213]

Houston is a significant hub for trafficking of cocaine, cannabis, heroin, MDMA, and methamphetamine due to its size and proximity to major illegal drug exporting nations.[214] Houston is one of the country's largest hubs for human trafficking.[215]

In the early 1970s, Houston, Pasadena and several coastal towns were the site of the Houston mass murders, which at the time were the deadliest case of serial killing in American history.[216][217]


The first Hattie Mae White Administration Building; it has been sold and demolished

Seventeen school districts exist within the city of Houston. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the seventh-largest school district in the United States and the largest in Texas.[218] HISD has 112 campuses that serve as magnet or vanguard schools—specializing in such disciplines as health professions, visual and performing arts, and the sciences. There are also many charter schools that are run separately from school districts. In addition, some public school districts also have their own charter schools.

The Houston area encompasses more than 300 private schools,[219][220][221] many of which are accredited by Texas Private School Accreditation Commission recognized agencies. The Houston Area independent schools offer education from a variety of different religious as well as secular viewpoints.[222] The Houston area Catholic schools are operated by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Colleges and universities

Four distinct state universities are located in Houston. The University of Houston (UH) is a nationally recognized tier one research university and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System.[223][224][225] The third-largest university in Texas, the University of Houston has nearly 44,000 students on its 667-acre (270-hectare) campus in the Third Ward.[226] The University of Houston–Clear Lake and the University of Houston–Downtown are stand-alone universities within the University of Houston System; they are not branch campuses of the University of Houston. Slightly west of the University of Houston is Texas Southern University (TSU), one of the largest and most comprehensive historically black universities in the United States with approximately 10,000 students. Texas Southern University was the first state university in Houston, founded in 1927.[227]

Several private institutions of higher learning are located within the city. Rice University, the most selective university in Texas and one of the most selective in the United States,[228] is a private, secular institution with a high level of research activity.[229] Founded in 1912, Rice's historic, heavily wooded 300-acre (120-hectare) campus, located adjacent to Hermann Park and the Texas Medical Center, hosts approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 3,000 post-graduate students. To the north in Neartown, the University of St. Thomas, founded in 1947, is Houston's only Catholic university. St. Thomas provides a liberal arts curriculum for roughly 3,000 students at its historic 19-block campus along Montrose Boulevard. In southwest Houston, Houston Baptist University (HBU), founded in 1960, offers bachelor's and graduate degrees at its Sharpstown campus. The school is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and has a student population of approximately 3,000.

Three community college districts have campuses in and around Houston. The Houston Community College System (HCC) serves most of Houston proper; its main campus and headquarters are located in Midtown. Suburban northern and western parts of the metropolitan area are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of Houston is served by San Jacinto College, and a northeastern portion is served by Lee College.[230] The Houston Community College and Lone Star College systems are among the 10 largest institutions of higher learning in the United States.

Houston also hosts a number of graduate schools in law and healthcare. The University of Houston Law Center and Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University are public, ABA-accredited law schools, while the South Texas College of Law, located in Downtown, serves as a private, independent alternative. The Texas Medical Center is home to a high density of health professions schools, including two medical schools: McGovern Medical School, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and Baylor College of Medicine, a highly selective private institution. Prairie View A&M University's nursing school is located in the Texas Medical Center. Additionally, both Texas Southern University and the University of Houston have pharmacy schools, and the University of Houston hosts a college of optometry.

TSU Campus

Texas Southern University, located in the Third Ward, is the first public institution of higher education in Houston and the largest HBCU in Texas.

University of Houston-Downtown Commerce Building

The University of Houston–Downtown, located in Downtown, is the second-largest institution of higher education in Houston.

Ezekiel W. Cullen building 3

The University of Houston, located in the Third Ward, is a tier-one public research university and the third-largest institution of higher education in Texas.

Lovett Hall

Rice University, located near the Museum District and Texas Medical Center, is a private tier-one research university and the most selective institution of higher education in Texas.


The University of St. Thomas, located in Neartown, is a private Catholic liberal arts college.


Houston Baptist University, located in Sharpstown, is a private Baptist university.


The current Houston Chronicle headquarters, formerly the Houston Post headquarters

The primary network-affiliated television stations are KPRC-TV (NBC), KHOU (CBS), KTRK-TV (ABC), KRIV (Fox), KIAH (The CW), and KTXH (MyNetworkTV). KTRK-TV, KRIV and KTXH operate as owned-and-operated stations of their networks.

The Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area is served by one public television station and one public radio station. KUHT (Houston Public Media) is a PBS member station and is the first public television station in the United States. Houston Public Radio is listener-funded and comprises one NPR member station, KUHF (News 88.7). The University of Houston System owns and holds broadcasting licenses to KUHT and KUHF. The stations broadcast from the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, located on the campus of the University of Houston.

Houston is served by the Houston Chronicle, its only major daily newspaper with wide distribution. The Hearst Corporation, which owns and operates the Houston Chronicle, bought the assets of the Houston Post—its long-time rival and main competition—when Houston Post ceased operations in 1995. The Houston Post was owned by the family of former Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby of Houston. The only other major publication to serve the city is the Houston Press—which was a free alternative weekly newspaper before the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey resulted in the publication switching to an online-only format on November 2, 2017.[231]



Houston is the seat of the Texas Medical Center, which describes itself as containing the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions.[232] All 49 member institutions of the Texas Medical Center are non-profit organizations. They provide patient and preventive care, research, education, and local, national, and international community well-being. Employing more than 73,600 people, institutions at the medical center include 13 hospitals and two specialty institutions, two medical schools, four nursing schools, and schools of dentistry, public health, pharmacy, and virtually all health-related careers. It is where one of the first—and still the largest—air emergency service, Life Flight, was created, and an inter-institutional transplant program was developed. Around 2007, more heart surgeries were performed at the Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world.[233]

Some of the academic and research health institutions at the center include MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center, Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston Methodist Hospital, Texas Children's Hospital, and University of Houston College of Pharmacy.

In the 2000s, the Baylor College of Medicine was annually considered within the top ten medical schools in the nation; likewise, the MD Anderson Cancer Center had been consistently ranked as one of the top two U.S. hospitals specializing in cancer care by U.S. News & World Report since 1990.[234][235] The Menninger Clinic, a psychiatric treatment center, is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Methodist Hospital System.[236] With hospital locations nationwide and headquarters in Houston, the Triumph Healthcare hospital system was the third largest long term acute care provider nationally in 2005.[237]


Houston is considered an automobile-dependent city, with an estimated 77.2% of commuters driving alone to work in 2016,[238] up from 71.7% in 1990[239] and 75.6% in 2009.[240] In 2016, another 11.4% of Houstonians carpooled to work, while 3.6% used public transit, 2.1% walked, and 0.5% bicycled.[238] A commuting study estimated that the median length of commute in the region was 12.2 miles (19.6 km) in 2012.[241] According to the 2013 American Community Survey, the average work commute in Houston (city) takes 26.3 minutes.[242] A 1999 Murdoch University study found that Houston had both the lengthiest commute and lowest urban density of 13 large American cities surveyed,[243] and a 2017 Arcadis study ranked Houston 22nd out of 23 American cities in transportation sustainability.[244] Harris County is one of the largest consumers of gasoline in the United States, ranking second (behind Los Angeles County) in 2013.[245]

Despite the region's high rate of automobile usage, attitudes towards transportation among Houstonians indicate a growing preference for walkability. A 2017 study by the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research found that 56% of Harris County residents have a preference for dense housing in a mixed-use, walkable setting as opposed to single-family housing in a low-density area.[246] A plurality of survey respondents also indicated that traffic congestion was the most significant problem facing the metropolitan area.[246] In addition, many households in the City of Houston have no car. In 2015, 8.3 percent of Houston households lacked a car, which was virtually unchanged in 2016 (8.1 percent). The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Houston averaged 1.59 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.[247]


45intoI-10 2
The Interstate 10/U.S. Route 90 and Interstate 45 stack interchange northwest of Downtown Houston.

The eight-county Greater Houston metropolitan area contains over 25,000 miles (40,000 km) of roadway, of which 10%, or approximately 2,500 miles (4,000 km), is limited-access highway.[248] The Houston region's extensive freeway system handles over 40% of the regional daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT).[248] Arterial roads handle an additional 40% of daily VMT, while toll roads, of which Greater Houston has 180 miles (290 km), handle nearly 10%.[248]

Greater Houston possesses a hub-and-spoke limited-access highway system, in which a number of freeways radiate outward from Downtown, with ring roads providing connections between these radial highways at intermediate distances from the city center. The city is crossed by three Interstate highways, Interstate 10, Interstate 45, and Interstate 69 (commonly known as U.S. Route 59), as well as a number of other United States routes and state highways. Major freeways in Greater Houston are often referred to by either the cardinal direction or geographic location they travel towards. Highways that follow the cardinal convention include U.S. Route 290 (Northwest Freeway), Interstate 45 north of Downtown (North Freeway), Interstate 10 east of Downtown (East Freeway), Texas State Highway 288 (South Freeway), and Interstate 69 south of Downtown (Southwest Freeway). Highways that follow the location convention include Interstate 10 west of Downtown (Katy Freeway), Interstate 69 north of Downtown (Eastex Freeway), Interstate 45 south of Downtown (Gulf Freeway), and Texas State Highway 225 (La Porte or Pasadena Freeway).

Three loop freeways provide north-south and east-west connectivity between Greater Houston's radial highways. The innermost loop is Interstate 610, commonly known as the Inner Loop, which encircles Downtown, the Texas Medical Center, Greenway Plaza, the cities of West University Place and Southside Place, and many core neighborhoods. The 88-mile (142 km) State Highway Beltway 8, often referred to as the Beltway, forms the middle loop at a radius of roughly 10 miles (16 km). A third, 180-mile (290 km) loop with a radius of approximately 25 miles (40 km), State Highway 99 (the Grand Parkway), is currently under construction, with six of eleven segments completed as of 2018.[249] Completed segments D through G provide a continuous 70.4-mile (113.3 km) limited-access tollway connection between Sugar Land, Katy, Cypress, Spring, and Porter.[249]

A system of toll roads, operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) and Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority (FBCTRA), provides additional options for regional commuters. The Sam Houston Tollway, which encompasses the mainlanes of Beltway 8 (as opposed to the frontage roads, which are untolled), is the longest tollway in the system, covering the entirety of the Beltway with the exception of a free section between Interstate 45 and Interstate 69 near George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The region is serviced by four spoke tollways: a set of managed lanes on the Katy Freeway; the Hardy Toll Road, which parallels Interstate 45 north of Downtown up to Spring; the Westpark Tollway, which services Houston's western suburbs out to Fulshear; and Fort Bend Parkway, which connects to Sienna Plantation. Westpark Tollway and Fort Bend Parkway are operated conjunctly with the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority.

Greater Houston's freeway system is monitored by Houston TranStar, a partnership of four government agencies which is responsible for providing transportation and emergency management services to the region.[250]

Greater Houston's arterial road network is established at the municipal level, with the City of Houston exercising planning control over both its incorporated area and extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). Therefore, Houston exercises transportation planning authority over a 2,000-square-mile (5,200 km2) area over five counties, many times larger than its corporate area.[251] The Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan, updated annually, establishes the city's street hierarchy, identifies roadways in need of widening, and proposes new roadways in unserved areas. Arterial roads are organized into four categories, in decreasing order of intensity: major thoroughfares, transit corridor streets, collector streets, and local streets.[251] Roadway classification affects anticipated traffic volumes, roadway design, and right of way breadth. Ultimately, the system is designed to ferry traffic from neighborhood streets to major thoroughfares, which connect into the limited-access highway system.[251] Notable arterial roads in the region include Westheimer Road, Memorial Drive, Texas State Highway 6, Farm to Market Road 1960, Bellaire Boulevard, and Telephone Road.


METRO Light Rail3
METRORail light rail

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) provides public transportation in the form of buses, light rail, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, and paratransit to fifteen municipalities throughout the Greater Houston area and parts of unincorporated Harris County. METRO's service area covers 1,303 square miles (3,370 km2) containing a population of 3.6 million.[252]

METRO's local bus network services approximately 275,000 riders daily with a fleet of over 1,200 buses.[252] The agency's 75 local routes contain nearly 8,900 stops and saw nearly 67 million boardings during the 2016 fiscal year.[252] A park and ride system provides commuter bus service from 34 transit centers scattered throughout the region's suburban areas; these express buses operate independently of the local bus network and utilize the region's extensive system of HOV lanes.[253] Downtown and the Texas Medical Center have the highest rates of transit use in the region, largely due to the park and ride system, with nearly 60% of commuters in each district utilizing public transit to get to work.[253]

METRO began light rail service in 2004 with the opening of the 8-mile (13 km) north-south Red Line connecting Downtown, Midtown, the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center, and NRG Park. In the early 2010s, two additional lines—the Green Line, servicing the East End, and the Purple Line, servicing the Third Ward—opened, and the Red Line was extended northward to Northline, bringing the total length of the system to 22.7 miles (36.5 km). Two light rail lines outlined in a five-line system approved by voters in a 2003 referendum have yet to be constructed.[254] The Uptown Line, which would run along Post Oak Boulevard in Uptown, is currently under construction as a bus rapid transit line—the city's first—while the University Line has been postponed indefinitely.[255] The light rail system saw approximately 16.8 million boardings in fiscal year 2016.[252]

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service three times a week to Houston via the Sunset Limited (Los Angeles–New Orleans), which stops at a station northwest of Downtown. The station saw 14,891 boardings and alightings in fiscal year 2008.[256] In 2012, there was a 25 percent increase in ridership to 20,327 passengers embarking from the Houston Amtrak Station.[257]


Houston City Council approved the Houston Bike Plan in March 2017, at that time entering the plan into the Houston Code of Ordinances.[258]

Houston has the largest number of bike commuters in Texas with over 160 miles of dedicated bikeways.[259] The city is currently in the process of expanding its on and off street bikeway network.[260] In 2015, Downtown Houston added a cycle track on Lamar Street, running from Sam Houston Park to Discovery Green.[261] In August 2017, Houston City Council approved spending for construction of 13 additional miles of bike trails.[262]

Houston's bicycle sharing system started service with nineteen stations in May 2012. Houston Bcycle (also known as B-Cycle), a local non-profit, runs the subscription program, supplying bicycles and docking stations, while partnering with other companies to maintain the system.[263] The network expanded to 29 stations and 225 bicycles in 2014, registering over 43,000 checkouts of equipment during the first half of the same year.[264] In 2017, Bcycle logged over 142,000 check outs while expanding to 56 docking stations.[265]


Bush terminal E
Terminal E, used exclusively by United Airlines, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport

The Houston Airport System, a branch of the municipal government, oversees the operation of three major public airports in the city. Two of these airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, offer commercial aviation service to a variety of domestic and international destinations and served 55 million passengers in 2016. The third, Ellington Airport, is home to the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. The Federal Aviation Administration and the state of Texas selected the Houston Airport System as "Airport of the Year" in 2005, largely due to the implementation of a $3.1 billion airport improvement program for both major airports in Houston.[266]

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), located 23 miles (37 km) north of Downtown Houston between Interstates 45 and 69, is the eighth busiest commercial airport in the United States (by total passengers and aircraft movements) and forty-third busiest globally.[267][268] The five-terminal, five-runway, 11,000-acre (4,500-hectare) airport served 40 million passengers in 2016, including 10 million international travelers.[267] In 2006, the United States Department of Transportation named IAH the fastest-growing of the top ten airports in the United States.[269] The Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center is located at Bush Intercontinental.

Houston was the headquarters of Continental Airlines until its 2010 merger with United Airlines with headquarters in Chicago; regulatory approval for the merger was granted in October of that year. Bush Intercontinental is currently United Airlines' second largest hub, behind O'Hare International Airport.[270] United Airlines' share of the Houston Airport System's commercial aviation market was nearly 60% in 2017 with 16 million enplaned passengers.[271] In early 2007, Bush Intercontinental Airport was named a model "port of entry" for international travelers by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.[272]

William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), known as Houston International Airport until 1967, operates primarily short- to medium-haul domestic and international flights to 60 destinations.[267] The four-runway, 1,304-acre (528-hectare) facility is located approximately 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Downtown Houston. In 2015, Southwest Airlines launched service from a new international terminal at Hobby to several destinations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. These were the first international flights flown from Hobby since the opening of Bush Intercontinental in 1969.[273] Houston's aviation history is showcased in the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, located in the old terminal building on the west side of the airport. In 2009, Hobby Airport was recognized with two awards for being one of the top five performing airports globally and for customer service by Airports Council International.[274]

Houston's third municipal airport is Ellington Airport, used by the military, government (including NASA) and general aviation sectors.[275]

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.[276][277]

See also


  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. ^ Official records for Houston were kept at the Weather Bureau in downtown from July 1888 to May 1969, and at Intercontinental since June 1969.[90]


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Further reading

  • 174 Years of Historic Houston Houstonhistory.com. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-13.
  • Allen, O. Fisher (1936). City of Houston from Wilderness to Wonder. Self Published. NA..
  • Glaeser, Edward L. (2008). "Houston, New York Has a Problem". City Journal (Summer). Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  • Johnston, Marguerite (1991). Houston, The Unknown City, 1836–1946. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-0-89096-476-7.
  • McComb, David G. (February 15, 2017). "Houston, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  • Miller, Ray (1984). Ray Miller's Houston. Gulf Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-88415-081-7.
  • Phelps, Wesley G. A People's War on Poverty: Urban Politics and Grassroots Activists in Houston. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2014.
  • Pruitt, Bernadette. The Other Great Migration: The Movement of Rural African-Americans to Houston, 1900–1941. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2013.
  • Slotboom, Oscar F. "Erik" (2003). Houston Freeways. Oscar F. Slotboom. ISBN 978-0-9741605-3-5.
  • Wilson, Ann Quin (1982). Native Houstonian – A Collective Portrait. The Donning Company – Houston Baptist University Press. 80-27644.
  • Young, Dr. S.O. (1912). A thumb-nail history of the city of Houston, Texas, from its founding in 1836 to the year 1912. Houston: Rein and Sons. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Digital republication by the Portal to Texas History Portal to Texas History. Reprinted in 2007 by Copano Bay Press.
  • Young, Dr. S. O. (1913). True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches. Galveston, Texas: Oscar Springer. Digital republication by the Portal to Texas History. Reprinted in 2007 by Copano Bay Press.

External links


The NRG Astrodome, also known as the Houston Astrodome or simply the Astrodome, is the world's first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium, located in Houston, Texas. Construction on the stadium began in 1962, and it officially opened in 1965. It served as home to the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB) from its opening in 1965 until 1999, and the home to the Houston Oilers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1968 until 1996, and also the part-time home of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1971 until 1975. Additionally, the Astrodome was the primary venue of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from 1966 until 2002. When opened, it was named the Harris County Domed Stadium and was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World".After the original natural grass playing surface died, the Astrodome became the first major sports venue to install artificial turf, which became known as AstroTurf. In another technological first, the Astrodome featured the "Astrolite", which was the first animated scoreboard. The Astrodome was renovated in 1988, expanding seating and altering many original features.

By the 1990s, the Astrodome was becoming obsolete. Unable to secure a new stadium, Oilers owner Bud Adams moved the team to Tennessee after the 1996 season, where they eventually became the Tennessee Titans. The Astros played at the dome through the 1999 season, before relocating to Enron Field (later changed to Minute Maid Park) in 2000, while the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo continued to be held at the Astrodome until the opening of the adjacent NRG Stadium in 2002. Although it no longer had any primary tenants, the venue regularly hosted events during the early 2000s, and in 2005, was used as a shelter for residents of New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Astrodome was declared non-compliant with fire code by the Houston Fire Department in 2008 and parts of it were demolished in 2013 after several years of disuse. In 2014 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Clyde Drexler

Clyde Austin Drexler (born June 22, 1962) is an American retired professional basketball player. Nicknamed "Clyde the Glide", he was a ten-time All-Star during his career, and named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Drexler won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 as part of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team") and an NBA Championship in 1995 with the Houston Rockets. He is a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (being inducted 2004 for his individual career and in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team"). He currently serves as a color commentator for Houston Rockets home games.

Dennis Quaid

Dennis William Quaid (born April 9, 1954) is an American actor known for a wide variety of dramatic and comedic roles. First gaining widespread attention in the 1980s, some of his notable credits include Breaking Away (1979), Great Balls of Fire! (1989), The Right Stuff (1983), The Big Easy (1986), Innerspace (1987), The Parent Trap (1998), Frequency (2000), Traffic (2000), The Rookie (2002), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Vantage Point (2008), Footloose (2011), and Soul Surfer (2011). For his role in Far from Heaven (2002) he won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor among other accolades.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IATA: IAH, ICAO: KIAH, FAA LID: IAH) is an international airport in Houston, Texas, United States, under class B airspace, serving the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Located about 23 miles (37 km) north of Downtown Houston, between Interstate 45 and Interstate 69/U.S. Highway 59 with direct access to the Hardy Toll Road expressway, George Bush Intercontinental Airport has scheduled flights to a large number of domestic and international destinations. The airport, originally named "Houston Intercontinental Airport", was later renamed after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States.In 2017, the airport served 40,696,189 passengers, making it the 48th busiest airport in the world, and the 15th busiest airport in the United States. IAH covers 10,000 acres (40.5 km2.) of land and has five runways.Houston Intercontinental is the second largest passenger hub for United Airlines. The airport also serves as a focus city for Spirit Airlines. Under operations as United Express, Expressjet Airlines, Republic Airline, Mesa Airlines and Skywest Airlines operate hub operations from IAH. It served as a hub for Houston-based Texas International Airlines and commuter air carrier Metro Airlines, which was also based in the Houston area and started its first flights when Intercontinental opened in 1969. The airport also serves as a hub for Atlas Air, which hosts a crew base, maintenance, and cargo logistics.

Greater Houston

Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land is the fifth-most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States, encompassing nine counties along the Gulf Coast in southeastern Texas. With a population of 6,997,384 people, as of 2018 census estimates, the MSA is the second-most populous in Texas after the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. Colloquially referred to as Greater Houston, the 10,000-square-mile (26,000 km2) region centers on Harris County, the third-most populous county in the nation, which contains the city of Houston—the largest economic and cultural center of the South—with a population of 2.3 million. Greater Houston is part of the Texas Triangle megaregion along with the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Greater Austin, and Greater San Antonio.

Houston has historically been among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States; it was the fastest-growing in absolute terms during the 2013–2014 census year, adding 156,371 people. The area grew 25.2% between 1990 and 2000—adding more than 950,000 people—while the nation's population increased only 13.2% over the same period, and from 2000 to 2007 alone, the area added over 910,000 people. The Greater Houston Partnership projects the metropolitan area will add between 4.1 and 8.3 million new residents between 2010 and 2050.Greater Houston has the sixth-highest metropolitan-area gross domestic product in the United States, valued at $526 billion in 2016. A major trade center anchored by the Port of Houston, Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land has the second-highest trade export value of all MSAs, at over $84 billion in 2016, accounting for 42% of the total exports of Texas. Metropolitan Houston is home to the headquarters of 21 Fortune 500 companies, ranking fourth among all MSAs.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (; Yoruba: [olaɟuwɔ̃]; born January 21, 1963), formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) , Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. He was nicknamed "The Dream" during his basketball career after he dunked so effortlessly that his college coach said it "looked like a dream."Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon traveled from his home country to play for the University of Houston under head coach Guy Lewis. His college career for the Cougars included three trips to the Final Four. Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. He combined with the 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the "Twin Towers". The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. After Sampson was traded to the Warriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets' undisputed leader. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and blocks three times (1990, 1991, 1993).

Despite very nearly being traded during a bitter contract dispute before the 1992–93 season, he remained in Houston where in 1993–94, he became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks (avenging his college championship loss to Patrick Ewing), and Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic. In 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States national team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league's all-time leader in blocks (3,830) and is one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double.

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros are an American professional baseball team based in Houston, Texas. The Astros compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West division, having moved to the division in 2013 after spending their first 51 seasons in the National League (NL). The Astros have played their home games at Minute Maid Park since 2000.The Astros were established as the Houston Colt .45s and entered the National League as an expansion team in 1962 along with the New York Mets. The current name—reflecting Houston's role as the control center of the U.S. crewed space program—was adopted three years later, when they moved into the Astrodome, the first domed sports stadium.

The Astros played in the NL from 1962 to 2012, first in the West Division from 1969 to 1993, followed by the Central Division from 1994 to 2012. The team was reclassified to the AL West from 2013 onward. While a member of the NL, the Houston Astros played in one World Series in 2005, losing in four games to the Chicago White Sox. In 2017, they became the first franchise in MLB history to have won a pennant in both the NL and the AL, when they defeated the New York Yankees in the ALCS. They won the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning four games to three, earning the team, and the state of Texas, its first World Series title.

Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle is the largest daily newspaper in Houston, Texas, United States. As of April 2016, it is the third-largest newspaper by Sunday circulation in the United States, behind only the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. With its 1995 buy-out of long-time rival the Houston Post, the Chronicle became Houston's newspaper of record.

The Houston Chronicle is the largest daily paper owned and operated by the Hearst Corporation, a privately held multinational corporate media conglomerate with $10 billion in revenues. The paper employs nearly 2,000 people, including approximately 300 journalists, editors, and photographers. The Chronicle has bureaus in Washington, D.C. and Austin. It reports that its web site averages 125 million page views per month.The publication serves as the "newspaper of record" of the Houston area. Previously headquartered in the Houston Chronicle Building at 801 Texas Avenue, Downtown Houston, the Houston Chronicle is now located at 4747 Southwest Freeway.It has two websites: chron.com and houstonchronicle.com. Chron.com is free and has breaking news, weather, traffic, pop culture, events listings, and city guides. Houstonchronicle.com, launched in 2012 and accessible after subscription purchase, contains analysis, reporting, columns, and everything found in the daily newspaper.

Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The Rockets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the league's Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center, located in downtown Houston. The Rockets have won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. The team was established as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego, in 1967. In 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston.

The Rockets won only 15 games in their debut season as a franchise in 1967. In the 1968 NBA draft, the Rockets, picking first overall, selected power forward Elvin Hayes, who would lead the team to its first playoff appearance in his rookie season. The Rockets did not finish a season with a winning record until the 1976–77 season, when they traded for center Moses Malone. Malone went on to win the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award twice and led Houston to the conference finals in his first year with the team. He also led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981 where they were defeated in six games by the Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird and future Rockets coach Kevin McHale.

In the 1984 NBA draft, the Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon, who would be paired with 7 feet 4 inches (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson, forming one of the tallest front courts in the NBA. Nicknamed the "Twin Towers", they led the team to the 1986 NBA Finals—the second NBA Finals appearance in franchise history—where Houston was again defeated by the Boston Celtics. The Rockets continued to reach the playoffs throughout the 1980s, but failed to advance past the first round for several years following a second-round defeat to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1987. Rudy Tomjanovich took over as head coach midway through the 1991–92 season, ushering in the most successful period in franchise history. The Olajuwon-led Rockets went to the 1994 NBA Finals and won the franchise's first championship against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. The following season, reinforced by another All-Star, Clyde Drexler, the Rockets repeated as champions with a four-game sweep of the Orlando Magic, who were led by a young Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. Houston, which was seeded sixth in the Western Conference during the 1995 playoffs, became the lowest-seeded team in NBA history to win the title.

The Rockets acquired all-star forward Charles Barkley in 1996, but the presence of three of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all-time (Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley) was not enough to propel Houston past the Western Conference Finals. Each one of the aging trio had left the team by 2001, and the Rockets of the early 2000s, led by superstars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, followed the trend of consistent regular season respectability followed by playoff underachievement as both players struggled with injuries. After Yao's early retirement in 2011, the Rockets entered a period of rebuilding, completely dismantling and retooling their roster. The acquisition of franchise player James Harden in 2012 has launched the Rockets back into championship contention in the mid-2010s.

Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon and James Harden have been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player while playing for the Rockets, for a total of four MVP awards. The Rockets, under general manager Daryl Morey, are notable for popularizing the use of advanced statistical analytics (similar to sabermetrics in baseball) in player acquisitions and style of play.

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans are a professional American football team based in Houston, Texas. The Texans compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) South division. The team plays its home games at NRG Stadium.

The club first played in 2002 as an expansion team, making them the youngest franchise currently competing in the NFL. The Texans replaced the city's previous NFL franchise, the Houston Oilers, which moved to Nashville, Tennessee and are now known as the Tennessee Titans. The team was founded and owned by Bob McNair from 1999 until his death in 2018. Following McNair’s death, the majority ownership of the team went to his wife, Janice McNair, and his son, D. Cal McNair.

While the team mainly struggled in the 2000s, they found success in the 2011 season, after clinching their first playoff berth and went on to win their first division championship. The Texans have gone on to win four more AFC South championships since then, in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2018. As of the 2018 season, they are the only franchise to have never appeared in a conference championship game.

I Will Always Love You

"I Will Always Love You" is a song originally written and recorded in 1973 by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. Her country version of the track was released in 1974 as a single and was written as a farewell to her one-time partner and mentor of seven years, Porter Wagoner, following Parton's decision to pursue a solo career.Parton's version of "I Will Always Love You" was a commercial success. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice. It first reached number one in June 1974, and then in October 1982, with her re-recording on the soundtrack of the movie version of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Thus, she achieved the number one position twice with the same song, a rare feat that Chubby Checker had done previously with "The Twist" becoming number one in 1960 and again in 1962.

Whitney Houston recorded her version of the song for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. Her single spent 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. It also holds the record for being the best-selling single by a woman in music history. Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" re-entered the charts in 2012 after her death, making it the second single ever to reach the top three on the Billboard Hot 100 in separate chart runs. The song has been recorded by many other artists including Linda Ronstadt, John Doe and LeAnn Rimes.

Nolan Ryan

Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr. (born January 31, 1947), nicknamed The Ryan Express, is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher and a previous chief executive officer (CEO) of the Texas Rangers. He is currently an executive adviser to the owner of the Houston Astros.

Over a record 27-year baseball career that spanned four decades: 1966, 1968–1993, Ryan pitched for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.Ryan, a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher, threw pitches that were regularly clocked above 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). He maintained this velocity throughout his career, even into his 40s. Ryan was also known to throw a devastating 12–6 curveball at exceptional velocity for a breaking ball.Ryan had a lifetime winning percentage of .526, and he was an eight-time MLB All-Star. His 5,714 career strikeouts is an MLB record by a significant margin. He leads the runner-up, Randy Johnson, by 839 strikeouts. Similarly, Ryan's 2,795 bases on balls lead second-place Steve Carlton by 962—walking over 50% more hitters than any other pitcher in MLB history. Ryan, Pedro Martínez, Randy Johnson, and Sandy Koufax are the only four pitchers inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame who had more strikeouts than innings pitched. Besides Jackie Robinson (whose number was retired by Major League Baseball) and Frank Robinson (3 teams), Ryan is the only other major league baseball player to have his number retired by at least three teams: the Angels, Astros, and Rangers.

Ryan is the all-time leader in no-hitters with seven, three more than any other pitcher. He is tied with Bob Feller for the most one-hitters, with 12. Ryan also pitched 18 two-hitters. Despite the seven no-hitters, he never pitched a perfect game, nor did he ever win a Cy Young Award. Ryan is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in Major League baseball games in four decades and the only MLB pitcher to strike out seven pairs of fathers and sons.

Ralph Sampson

Ralph Lee Sampson Jr. (born July 7, 1960) is an American retired basketball player. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A 7-foot-4 phenom, three-time College Player of the Year, and first selection in the 1983 NBA draft, Sampson brought heavy expectations with him to the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA Rookie of the Year, Sampson averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds for his first three seasons with the Houston Rockets before injuries began to take their toll. Three knee surgeries later he retired as a four-time All-Star, an NBA Rookie of the Year, and an NBA All-Star Game MVP (1985). One of his many career highlights was a buzzer-beating shot to dethrone the Los Angeles Lakers as Western Conference champions in 1986, derailing their hopes for coveted back-to-back NBA titles, and sending the Rockets to their second NBA Finals in the team's history.

Sam Houston

Sam Houston (March 2, 1793 – July 26, 1863) was an American soldier and politician. An important leader of the Texas Revolution, Houston served as the 1st and 3rd president of the Republic of Texas, and was one of the first two individuals to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He also served as the 6th Governor of Tennessee and the seventh governor of Texas, the only American to be elected governor of two different states in the United States.

Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Houston and his family migrated to Maryville, Tennessee when Houston was a teenager. Houston later ran away from home and spent time with the Cherokee, becoming known as "Raven." He served under General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, and after the war he presided over the removal of many Cherokee from Tennessee. With the support of Jackson and others, Houston won election to the United States House of Representatives in 1823. He strongly supported Jackson's presidential candidacies, and in 1827 Houston won election as the governor of Tennessee. In 1829, after divorcing his first wife, Houston resigned from office, and joined his Cherokee friends in Arkansas Territory.

Houston settled in Texas in 1832. After the Battle of Gonzales, Houston helped organize Texas's provisional government and was selected as the top-ranking official in the Texian Army. He led the Texian Army to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle in Texas's war for independence against Mexico. After the war, Houston won election in the 1836 Texas presidential election. He left office due to term limits in 1838, but won election to another term in the 1841 Texas presidential election. Houston played a key role in the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845, and in 1846 he was elected to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He joined the Democratic Party and supported President James K. Polk's prosecution of the Mexican–American War.

Houston's Senate record was marked by his unionism and opposition to extremists from both the North and South. He voted for the Compromise of 1850, which settled many of the territorial issues left over from the Mexican–American War and the annexation of Texas. He later voted against the Kansas–Nebraska Act because he believed it would lead to increased sectional tensions over slavery, and his opposition to that act led him to leave the Democratic Party. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidential nomination of the American Party in the 1856 presidential election and the Constitutional Union Party in the 1860 presidential election. In 1859, Houston won election as the governor of Texas. In that role, he opposed secession and unsuccessfully sought to keep Texas out of the Confederate States of America. He was forced out of office in 1861 and died in 1863. Houston's name has been honored in numerous ways, and he is the namesake of the city of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States.

Super Bowl XXXVIII

Super Bowl XXXVIII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Carolina Panthers and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2003 season. The Patriots defeated the Panthers by a score of 32–29. The game was played at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on February 1, 2004. At the time, this was the most watched Super Bowl ever with 144.4 million viewers.The Panthers were making their first ever Super Bowl appearance after posting an 11–5 regular season record. They also made it the second straight year that a team from the NFC South division made the Super Bowl, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning Super Bowl XXXVII. The Patriots were seeking their second Super Bowl title in three years after posting a 14–2 record.

NFL fans and sports writers widely consider this game one of the most well-played and thrilling Super Bowls; Sports Illustrated writer Peter King hailed it as the "Greatest Super Bowl of all time." Although neither team could score in the first and third quarters, they ended up with a combined total of 868 yards and 61 points. The game was scoreless for a Super Bowl record 26:55 before the two teams combined for 24 points prior to halftime. The clubs then combined for a Super Bowl record 37 points in the fourth quarter. The contest was finally decided when the Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal was made with four seconds left. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the second time in his career.

The game is also known for its controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson's breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction". Along with the rest of the halftime show, it led to an immediate crackdown by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and widespread debate on perceived indecency in broadcasting.


Texas (, locally ; Spanish: Texas or Tejas Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtexas] (listen)) is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second-most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second-most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed "The Lone Star State" to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico. The "Lone Star" can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texan state seal. The origin of Texas's name is from the word taysha, which means "friends" in the Caddo language.Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes common to both the U.S. Southern and Southwestern regions. Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than 10% of Texas's land area is desert. Most of the population centers are in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.

The term "six flags over Texas" refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845, Texas joined the union as the 28th state. The state's annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2nd of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

Historically four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil. Before and after the U.S. Civil War the cattle industry, which Texas came to dominate, was a major economic driver for the state, thus creating the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative. It was ultimately, though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits (Spindletop in particular) that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2015, it is second on the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with 54. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the U.S. in state export revenue since 2002, and has the second-highest gross state product. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would be the 10th largest economy in the world.

University of Houston

The University of Houston (UH) is a state research university and the main institution of the University of Houston System. Founded in 1927, UH is the third-largest university in Texas with over 46,000 students. Its campus spans 667 acres in southeast Houston, and was known as University of Houston–University Park from 1983 to 1991. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UH as a doctoral degree-granting institution with "highest research activity." The U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 171 in its National University Rankings, and No. 91 among top public universities.The university offers more than 282 degree programs through its 14 academic colleges on campus—including programs leading to professional degrees in architecture, law, optometry, and pharmacy. The institution conducts $150 million annually in research, and operates more than 40 research centers and institutes on campus. Interdisciplinary research includes superconductivity, space commercialization and exploration, biomedical sciences and engineering, energy and natural resources, and artificial intelligence. Awarding more than 9,000 degrees annually, UH's alumni base exceeds 260,000. The economic impact of the university contributes over $3 billion annually to the Texas economy, while generating about 24,000 jobs.The University of Houston hosts a variety of theatrical performances, concerts, lectures, and events. It has more than 400 student organizations and 17 intercollegiate sports teams. Annual UH events and traditions include The Cat's Back, Homecoming, and Frontier Fiesta. The university's varsity athletic teams, known as the Houston Cougars, are members of the American Athletic Conference and compete in the NCAA Division I in all sports. The football team regularly makes bowl game appearances, and the men's basketball team has made 20 appearances in the NCAA Division I Tournament—including five Final Four appearances. The men's golf team has won 16 national championships—the most in NCAA history.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts—as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for "How Will I Know"—influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.

Houston began singing in church as a child and became a background vocalist while in high school. With the guidance of Arista Records chairman Clive Davis, she signed to the label at the age of 19. Her first two studio albums, Whitney Houston (1985) and Whitney (1987), both reached number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States and became two of the world's best-selling albums of all time. She became the only artist to have seven consecutive number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, from "Saving All My Love for You" in 1985 to "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" in 1988.

Houston made her screen acting debut in the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard (1992). She recorded seven songs for the film's soundtrack, including "I Will Always Love You", which received the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. The soundtrack album received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and remains the world's best-selling soundtrack album of all time. Houston made other high-profile film appearances, including Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996). The theme song "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" became her eleventh and final number-one single on the Hot 100 chart, while The Preacher Wife's soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.

Following the critical and commercial success of My Love Is Your Love (1998), Houston signed a $100 million contract with Arista Records. However, her personal struggles began overshadowing her career, and the album Just Whitney (2002) received mixed reviews. Her drug use and tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown were widely publicized in media. After a six-year break from recording, Houston returned to the top of the Billboard 200 chart with her final studio album, I Look to You (2009).

On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, California. The coroner's report showed that she had accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors. News of her death coincided with the 2012 Grammy Awards which she was originally scheduled to perform and featured prominently in international media.

Yao Ming

Yao Ming (Chinese: 姚明; born September 12, 1980) is a Chinese basketball executive and retired professional basketball player who played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected to start for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game eight times, and was named to the All-NBA Team five times. At the time of his final season, he was the tallest active player in the NBA, at 2.29 m (7 ft 6 in). He is the only player from outside of the United States to lead the NBA in All-Star votes.Yao, who was born in Shanghai, started playing for the Shanghai Sharks as a teenager, and played on their senior team for five years in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), winning a championship in his final year. After negotiating with the CBA and the Sharks to secure his release, Yao was selected by the Houston Rockets as the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft. He reached the NBA Playoffs four times, and the Rockets won the first-round series in the 2009 postseason, their first playoff series victory since 1997. In July 2011, Yao announced his retirement from professional basketball because of a series of foot and ankle injuries which forced him to miss 250 games in his last six seasons. In eight seasons with the Rockets, Yao ranks sixth among franchise leaders in total points and total rebounds, and second in total blocks.Yao is one of China's best-known athletes, with sponsorships with several major companies. His rookie year in the NBA was the subject of a documentary film, The Year of the Yao, and he co-wrote, along with NBA analyst Ric Bucher, an autobiography titled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.

In April 2016, Yao was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson.In February 2017, Yao was unanimously elected as chairman of Chinese Basketball Association.

Climate data for Houston (Intercontinental Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1888–present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 84
Mean maximum °F (°C) 78.4
Average high °F (°C) 62.9
Daily mean °F (°C) 53.1
Average low °F (°C) 43.2
Mean minimum °F (°C) 26.7
Record low °F (°C) 5
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.38
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.6 9.2 8.8 6.8 8.0 10.6 9.1 8.3 8.0 7.9 8.2 9.5 104.0
Average relative humidity (%) 74.7 73.4 72.7 73.1 75.0 74.6 74.4 75.1 76.8 75.4 76.0 75.5 74.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 143.4 155.0 192.5 209.8 249.2 281.3 293.9 270.5 236.5 228.8 168.3 148.7 2,577.9
Percent possible sunshine 44 50 52 54 59 67 68 66 64 64 53 47 58
Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1969–1990, sun 1961–1990)[72][91][92]
Climate data for Houston (William P. Hobby Airport), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1941–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 82
Average high °F (°C) 60.2
Average low °F (°C) 43.5
Record low °F (°C) 8
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.35
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 7.2 7.8 9.6 11.5 12.2 10.7 10.3 8.4 9.5 11.8 10.4 7.8 117.2
Source: NOAA (sun 1961–1990)[72]
Racial composition 2010[109] 2000[110] 1990[27] 1970[27]
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 43.7% 37.4% 27.6% 11.3%[111]
Black or African American 25.7% 25.3% 28.1% 25.7%,[112]
Whites (Non-Hispanic) 25.6% 30.8% 40.6% 62.4%[111]
Asian 6.0% 5.3% 4.1% 0.4%
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