History of Houston
Houston was founded in 1836 near the banks of the Buffalo Bayou, by the Allen brothers from New York, who named the new settlement after Sam Houston, a popular general at the time. Houston was incorporated in 1837 and the same year it became the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas. Houston started growing in the 1860 as the regional commercial and transportation hub for cotton. During the Civil War, the city was General Magruder’s headquarters, from where he organized the Battle of Galveston.
In 1900, a devastating hurricane hit Houston. This accelerated the efforts to make the city into a proper deepwater port. In 1901, oil was discovered near Beaumont, which, of course, prompted the development of oil industry in Texas and made it one of the richest American states. The deepwater Port of Houston was opened in 1914. World War II reduced the activity in the port but on the other hand it did provide some benefits for the economy in the city - wartime industries demanded rubber and petroleum and the city built new factories to meet the demand. After the war, the economy was again primarily based on port activities. The NASA’s Johnson Space Center opened in 1961 and the Astrodome, the first domed indoor sports center in the nation, opened in 1965.
In the late 1970s the city experienced a new population boom when many residents of the Rust Belt moved to Houston. In the 1980s, the oil market crashed, causing a very serious blow to the economy in Houston. The space industry also suffered after the incident in which Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated right after the launch.
Houston experienced the worst flooding in its history, following the tropical storm Allison, which killed 20 people in the state and caused significant material damage. In 2005, Houston sheltered 150,000 residents of New Orleans who evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. Just a month later, 2.5 million residents of Houston had to evacuate as Hurricane Rita approached (and fortunately caused little or no damage to the city itself). This is considered to be the largest urban evacuation ever in the United States.
Geography and Climate
Houston is located in Harris County in Texas. It has four large bayous passing through: Buffalo Bayou, White Oak Bayou, Braes Bayou and Sims Bayou. These three last bayous are tributaries to the Houston Ship Channel, which continues through Galveston and into the Gulf of Mexico.
The climate in the city is humid subtropical. The summers are hot and humid and winters are usually mild. The city is prone to tornados, even though it is not part of the Tornado Valley.
Houston does not have a single central business district and instead of that it has multiple districts that have grown throughout the city over the decades, such as Downtown, Uptown, Texas Medical Center, Midtown, Greenway Plaza, Memorial City, Energy Corridor, Greenspoint and Westchase.
Population of Houston
In 2011, the population of Houston was estimated at 2,145,146. The racial makeup in the city in 2010 was 44% Hispanic or Latino, 26% non-Hispanic White, 24% Black or African American, 6% Asian (Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Korean and Japanese), 0.7% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 15.2% some other race and 3.3% two or more races.
Houston has one of the youngest populations in the USA. It is a multicultural city in which more than 90 languages are spoken. It also has a large population of illegal aliens - approximately 400,000.
As for the crime, Houston is a large center for drug trafficking, especially cocaine, MDMA, marijuana and heroin.
The median household income in Houston is $37,000 and the per capita income for the city is $20,000.
Economy and Business
Energy industry, especially oil and natural gas, is the stronghold of the economy in Houston. Biomedical research, aeronautics, education, finance and healthcare are also large economic sectors in the city.
The Port of Houston has been crucial for the economic development of Houston. It is the tenth-largest port in the world and the first port in the USA in international commerce. The city has 92 consular offices of foreign nations, 23 foreign chambers of commerce and 24 foreign banks.
Some of the largest companies in the city include ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil, Sysco, Enterprise Products Partners, Plains All American Pipeline, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Waste Management, Inc. and others.
Culture and Attractions
The city has a diversified cultural live. The Houston Theatre District is the major center for performing arts. The city has its own professional opera, ballet, symphony and theatre and it is home to a large number of art groups, folk artists and independent art organizations.
The Museum District includes institutions such as The museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Holocaust Museum Houston and Houston Zoo.
Another major attraction for both the locals and the tourists is the Space Center Houston, the official visitors’ center of the NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Other attractions include The Galleria, SplashTown Waterpark Houston, Sam Houston Race Park, Downtown Aquarium, as well as over 337 public parks and gardens, most notably Hermann Park, Memorial Park, Tranquillity Park and Lake Houston Park.
Houston hosts the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest event of this kind in the world.
As for the higher education, Houston has four different state universities. The University of Houston is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System and a Tier One research university with a national recognition. Other three state universities in the city include the University of Houston - Clear Lake, The University of Houston - Downtown and Texas Southern University. The city also has a number of private institutions of higher education. Rice University is probably the most prestigious of them as it is often considered to be one of the top 20 universities in the United States.
Houston is served by three large airports, two of which are commercial. The primary airport is George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the sixth-busiest airport in the USA. Houston was the headquarters of Continental Airlines until the company merged with United Airlines in 2010 and the headquarters moved to Chicago.
The city has a large number of bicycle commuters and a public bicycle sharing system called Houston B-Cycle.
Houston is home to three major league professional sports franchises: Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA) and Houston Astros (MLB). It is also home of the Houston Dynamo of the Major League Soccer and Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.