Houston's mix of international appeal and Southern charm have captured the imagination of tastemakers the world over. Read on for a few insider facts on the nation's fourth largest city.
At 655 square miles, the City of Houston could contain the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami.
Houston, with 2.2 million residents, is the fourth most populous city in the United States, trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The city is the largest in the South and the Southwest.
Houston is the nation’s demographic future. In racial and ethnic composition, the Houston of today very much resembles the U.S. 40 years hence.
16.7% African American
More than 145 different languages are spoken in Houston. That's the third largest number of languages spoken in a U.S. city behind New York (192) and LA (185). More than a third of Houstonians older than five speak a language other than English at home.
Just under 30% of the population over the age of 25 holds a bachelor's degree or higher.
Houston has a very young population. Approximately 22.6% of residents are age 5 to 19, the largest population segment.
Houston ranks first among U.S. cities where paychecks stretch the furthest, according to Forbes.
Houston is home to the second largest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the country (49) behind New York (72).
Love City: Houston is deemed the No. 1 city in America for young couples in new study, according to a study by Credit Donkey (2014).
Houston was ranked among the top places to visit in 2015 by the Boston Globe,Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.
BusinessInsider ranked Houston the Best City in America in 2014.
Houston rates first among the nation’s 10 most populous cities in total acreage of parkland and third behind only San Diego and Dallas in park acreage per capita, according to a study by The Trust for Public Land.
Houston was named one of the 10 greenest cities in the U.S. by causes.com. The Trust for Public Land indicated that of the nation's 10 most populous cities, none had more total park space than Houston with 56,405 acres. Houston 's 27.2 acres per 1,000 residents ranks second only to San Diego.
The City of Houston offers more than 300-mile interconnected bikeway network spread over 500 square miles and more than 128 miles of hike and bike trails that loop within its parks or are linear and run along bayous and outside park boundaries.
Harris County offers 45 hike and bike trails totaling 228.8 miles.
More than 2.4 million foreign travelers came to Houston in 2014, the most recent year for which data exists. The vast majority of those travelers came from Mexico.
International trade directly or indirectly supports more than one-third of all jobs in the Houston metropolitan area.
Ninety-two foreign governments have official representation here through consulates or trade offices, ranking Houston's consular corps third in the nation.
Houston has 17 sister city relationships promoting business opportunities across five continents: Australia (1), Asia (6), Europe (7), Africa (1) and Americas (2).
Fourteen foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here, and the city has 32 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations.
Bush Intercontinental Airport offers non-stop service to more than 70 International destinations.
Hobby Airport completed construction on an International Terminal in 2015 and began service to Mexico and Latin America through Southwest Airlines.
The Texas Medical Center sees an annual average of 16,000 International patient visits.
Houston received approximately 14.8 million visitors in 2014, according to the most recent data available.
Visitors to Houston spent $17 billion in 2014 and the industry supports more than 123,000 jobs.
Houston has more than 80,000 hotel rooms with approximately 8,000 located downtown.
The Houston Airport System (George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport) handled 55 million passengers in 2015.
With more than 4.4 million square feet of convention space, metro Houston ranks at the top of American cities when comparing convention venues.
In 2014, Houston hosted 364 conventions, events and shows that drew 774,152 attendees to Houston, translating into an economic impact of $485 million, based on attendance.
The city is set to host the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and the NFL's Super Bowl LI in 2017.
Texas has 20 cultural districts, of which 6 are in Houston (Texas Commission on the Arts).
Houston’s cultural events and exhibitions report 9.2 million visits per year.
Houston’s nonprofit arts organizations support 14,115 full-time jobs locally. An additional 12,192 professional artists call Houston their home. In total, 29,729 jobs are sustained by the city’s nonprofit arts industry.
Houston is one of only a few U.S. cities with resident professional companies in the four disciplines of the performing arts: ballet, opera, symphony and theater.
Houston has more than 500 institutions devoted to the performing and visual arts, science and history in the Houston area.
- Houston Ballet: Hailed by The New York Times as "...one of the nation's best ballet companies"
The Alley Theatre has staged more than 25 world premieres in its history.
Theatre Under the Stars is one of the largest nonprofit producers of musical theater in America.
One of the largest museum districts in the country with 20 museums and institutions within walking distance.
Children’s Museum of Houston is the highest attended youth museum in the country for its size and rated No. 1 in the country by Parents magazine.
The Menil Collection: Considered one of the most important private collections of the 20th century.
The Health Museum: Most visited health museum in the country.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: The largest art museum in the Southwest United States.
Rothko Chapel: The only ecumenical center of its kind in the world.
The Greater Houston area has 14 major institutions of higher learning and more than 60 degree-granting colleges, universities and technical schools.
Houston (Rice University) is the birthplace of nanotechnology.
Rice University ranked first among "30 Best Values in Small Colleges" and the "30 Best College Values in the West/Southwest" according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine (2014).
Tier One research universities in the Houston region include: Rice University, the University of Houston and Texas A&M University.
The region has some 100 trade, vocational and business schools.
Tier One research universities in the Houston region include: Rice University, University of Houston and Texas A&M University.
For four generations, the Hamilton family has made high-quality men’s shirts for high-end stores like Barneys New York from a Richmond Avenue storefront.
Elaine Turner has built a thriving accessories business from her Houston headquarters. Today, her designs are carried in more than 200 specialty stores, at Turner’s boutiques, online and Nordstrom.
Project Runway winner Chloe Dao has created a popular clothing line from her boutique Dao Chloe Dao (formerly Lot 8).
Fashion designer and native Houstonian Cesar Galindo is recognized worldwide for his cocktail and evening wear collections, which have appeared in print, television, film and the runway of New York Fashion Week.
Houston is considered to have one of the best culinary scenes in the country, with cuisine from around the world. There are more than 10,000 restaurants in the Houston area with culinary choices that represent more than 70 countries and American regions.
Houstonians dine out more than residents of any other city—4.1 times per week, compared with the national average of 3.1. The average meal in Houston—$35.57—is less than the national average of $40.53, according to Zagat.
UrbanSpoon.com lists roughly 390 vegan friendly restaurants, 38 farm to table restaurants and 215 food trucks in Houston.
Houston is home to Johnson Space Center, the training base and home for our nation's astronauts and the site of Mission Control. For more than three decades, JSC has been the world leader in human space flight operations for NASA. Over 3,000 men and women began their careers in this facility.
Houston is home to Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, which is NASA's center for spaceflight activities.
In 1969, "Houston" was the first word spoken from the moon. The Apollo 11 mission established a place in history for the city when astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the now-famous line, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
The space shuttle replica Explorer is now on display at Space Center Houston. The 122-foot, 130,000-pound wooden replica was recently restored so the public can go inside the capsule as part of a behind-the-scenes look at life inside a space shuttle, an experience only available at Space Center Houston
Hollywood directors frequently film in Houston because of the vastly diverse terrain and unique locations found in the Greater Houston area, from the urban landscape seen in Jason’s Lyric and Reality Bites to the NASA favorites Apollo 13, Armageddonand Space Cowboys.
In fact, Houston’s varied topography can sometimes be unrecognizable. Who would have guessed that the lush, green landscape on the Rushmore campus was not filmed in New England but in Houston just 10 minutes from downtown? Or that Houston doubled for Arlington, Virginia in the thriller Arlington Road?
Other blockbusters filmed in Houston:
- Terms of Endearment
- Evening Star
- RoboCop 2
- Tin Cup
- Flags of Our Fathers
- Mao’s Last Dancer
- Tree of Life
Texas Medical Center (TMC) with 21 renowned hospitals—including M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the No. 1 cancer hospital in the country — 13 support organizations, eight academic and research institutions, six nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two universities, two pharmacy schools and dental school—is the largest medical complex in the world.
The TMC handles approximately 7.2 million patient visits annually and 106,000 employees..
More heart surgeries are performed in the Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world.
The first successful human heart transplant was performed in Houston by Dr. Denton Cooley (1968).
77030, the Texas Medical Center Zip code, is home to 21,000 physicians, scientists, researchers and other advanced degree professionals in the life sciences at 385 medical offices, the highest concentration in the country.
Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is the birth place of Life Flight™ (1976).
- 1836: On April 21, General Sam Houston's army wins Texas' Independence from Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto.
- 1836: Houston founded on Aug. 30 by brothers Augustus C. and John K. Allen, who pay just over $1.40 per acre for 6,642 acres near headwaters of Buffalo Bayou.
- 1837: General Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas, signs an act authorizing Houston to incorporate. Houston is capital of the Republic from 1837-1839.
- 1853: Houston's first railroad - the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado Railroad - begins operations.
- 1868: Houston's first trolley cars (mule-drawn) appear.
- 1899: First Houston city park opens. (This site, now Sam Houston Park, contains several of Houston's earliest buildings.
- 1912: Rice Institute (now Rice University) begins classes.
- 1913: Houston Symphony is established.
- 1914: The 25-foot-deep Houston Ship Channel is completed and formally dedicated.
- 1924: Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the first fine arts museum in Texas, opens
- 1932: First Houston Fat Stock Show & Rodeo (now Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) held.
- 1943: Texas Medical Center is founded.
- 1962: NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center moves to Houston.
- 1969: Houston Intercontinental Airport begins operations.
- 1969: "Houston" is the first word spoken from the lunar surface.
- 1970: The Galleria opens.
- 2004: Houston's first modern rail line - 7.5 miles long - begins operations.
To download high-res images, visit photo gallery.